Let's get started. I have a lot to cover. It has been a quick two weeks.
True Trick's Sis was going to make one last try at the non-winners-of-two races lifetime at Pimlico on May 6. She made that try for William Kroh's WAK Stable. The homebred is now spending her days on a lovely farm in western Maryland teaching two young sisters the basics of riding. GG, her companion goat is now spending time with Frisky Thunder.
Another home found by Kimberly Clarks Retirement and Placement Organization, www.helpfortbs.org.
Arnold Hefts’ Dressy Devil was our next starter at Pimlico on May 7. Unfortunately Devil was behind Snazzy Jazzy when that horse injured himself and pulled up quickly. Devil was checked hard by rider Sheldon Russell. There was nothing anyone could do. Sheldon did a nice job of steering Devil and himself out of harm's way.
That same day, Love On A Wire was making his second start of the year for NRS Stable. Love showed much more interest and desire than he did in his last race, running third in a field of five. On a day when horses were not making up ground on the front runners, Love showed his determination and closed several lengths to finish strongly.
Derwin's Pulpit would be our last starter of the week. Sunday May 8. She too was making her second start of the year, racing in the black and yellow colors for MOM Stable. The 3-year-old by Horse Chestnut needs grass and distance. She got both. Unfortunately she also got the outside post. Oh well, luck of the draw. Sheldon had the mount. After breaking well, she settled mid pack early and wide on the first turn. Down the backside she advanced to fourth and closed ground. All on the outside. With 11 other horses there was just no room to save ground. Turning for home she was set down for the drive and finished a strong second. A very nice effort.
Preakness Week. This week and Maryland Million Week are my favorites. I love all of the out-of-town horses, trainers and jockeys coming into the Free State. It gives them a chance to see how great Maryland racing, Maryland horses, Maryland trainers and Maryland jockeys really are. This is a wonderful state with deep racing history.
The Legends Race was the idea of Maryland Racing Secretary Georgeanne Hale. Eight retired female riders coming back to ride a race on Friday, Black Eyed Susan Day. More can be found on the Maryland Jockey Club Website.
Two of the riders, Mary Wiley-Wagner and Andrea Seefeldt-Knight asked me if they could ride out on some of my sets in the morning to help with their fitness and preparation for Friday's big race. Andrea worked a few sets with Sheldon and on Wednesday Mary joined them working three from the gate. The Baltimore Sun and Channel 13 both came out to interview, photograph and video the pair going through early morning exercises. This was fun. Miss Princess, Celtic Music and Our Jaks were the three horses I used for the trio.
Everything went great. All their horses behaved very well and broke fast from the gate. All three riders looked like journeymen (journeymen, I guess) out for regular work before heading to the jockey's room.
The Legends race went off without a hitch that afternoon. The crowd was incredible. Photos. Autographs. News articles. Everything was positive.
That Friday we had two runners. Flying Wildcat went off a long shot in a Maryland-bred starter. Wildcat ran well for about 7 furlongs. Unfortunately the race was a mile and one sixteenth. There are a lot of easier spots for the daughter of Forest Wildcat.
Next was Cary Jackson’s British-bred Conceit. A winner in his only start this year, Conceit needed to step it up running against first-level allowance horses. He did. This race was part of the jockey challenge series. Eight riders were chosen to participate. Riders were then named on eight of the horses in that particular race. Conceit drew Kent Desormeaux, Kent was enthusiastic about riding this son of Royal Applause. With a good break, Conceit settled fourth or fifth down the backside going 5 furlongs on the grass. Swinging for home Conceit dug down hard and tried to hold on for second. Just missed. We lost. I mean Kent lost, his stick. Yup one of the best jockeys in the world lost his stick right when it mattered most. Conceit thought the race was over. Oh well. Next time Sheldon will be on him. Great race. Great effort.
Preakness Day. Choptank and Celtic Innis, making his fourth appearance on one of Maryland’s most exciting days, represented our stable.
Choptank, racing for Dumbarton Farm, ran first. Showing his preference for the grass in his last start Choptank didn’t disappoint. Luis Garcia had the return call on the 5-year-old gelding by Dixieland Band.
Choptank broke sharply and went straight to the lead pressed by 60-1 shot Invisible Genius. In front by 2 at the top of the stretch, Lighthouse Sound ran us down winning by 3 1/2-lengths while favorite Macho Chick nailed us on the wire for second. A good solid performance.
Celtic never really settled into his surroundings at Pimlico. This was very unusual for our 8-year-old veteran. He loves a crowd. After all, he's convinced all the people are there to watch him perform. Preakness Day was not his day. He paced nervously in his stall. He wouldn’t even settle for my assistant Victor. He came to the paddock quiet and seemed OK but regular rider Sheldon Russell said Celtic warmed up unenthusiastically and seemed dull. That was the way he ran in the Maryland Sprint Handicap. A race he has run in three times before, finishing second, third and fourth. He seems to have come out of the race fine and I'm not sure where we will go with him next. More later.
Once the Preakness was over, it was on to the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale at the Timonium Fair Grounds. Once again bloodstock great Buzz Chace helped me pick some nice, quality horses to add to the roster. Cary Jackson was looking to add one more youngster to his stable. We settled on a Pennsylvania-bred filly by Forest Danger. The big bay filly will join the barn right away. Next it was Steve ONeil’s turn. We had a beautiful chestnut filly named Parade Of Colors in our sights. And just like that the Leading The Parade filly was in Steve's stable. She too will join the growing number of up-and-coming babies right away.
Heart Striker runs Wednesday. First race at Penn National.
Eighttofasttocatch runs Thursday at Belmont.
Celtic Music runs Friday at Pimlico.