Pletcher, Velazquez team up for Pimlico stakes double
Bold Affair (Two Punch) tracked in third throughout and filled that spot on the line, another three parts of a length back of Strike the Moon. Final Mesa was a half-length behind in fourth, while Grand Kisses (Grand Reward), Aba Dabbler (Star Dabbler), Sweet Susan (Wiseman's Ferry) and Spring Jump (Jump Start) completed the order of finish. Side by Side (Include) and Fast Tip (Najran) were withdrawn.
R Holiday Mood made her stakes debut in the Out Ruled S. at Aqueduct in mid-March, and was most recently seen finishing fourth in the Comely S. (G3) after setting the early pace in that one-mile contest. Reverting in distance here, the bay lass now boasts a 5-3-0-1, $103,800, career mark.
Pletcher also gave Velazquez a leg up on Michael B. Tabor's EXCITED (Giant's Causeway) in the $50,000 Hilltop S., which rounded out Pimlico's Friday program.
The sophomore filly saved ground in fourth before easing out on the far turn as Full Moon Blues (Petionville) recorded splits of :24 2/5, :49 and 1:15 3/5. Velazquez sent her around horses entering the stretch and Excited powered on through the lane to draw clear by 3 3/4 lengths of Pink Pallet (Include), who rallied from last to be a length clear of Blushandbashful (Even the Score) on the wire. The winner finished 1 1/16 miles on the yielding turf in 1:49 2/5.
"She's a nice filly," Pletcher said. "I trained her mother as well and it's rewarding when you get that second generation. We had a good trip. The main concern today if you were running on the turf was how they were going to handle the soft ground. Fortunately, she handled it real well."
"That was not an easy race," Velazquez added. "She would hit spots and lose momentum. She stumbled plenty throughout the race. I just wanted to be close enough to make one big move. She ran great down the lane."
Frontside (War Front) followed in fourth with Mount Holiday (Eddington), Ms. Silver Oak (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), Anandi (Anabaa), Full Moon Blues, Green Wave Girl (Bowman's Band), Parade of Colors (Leading the Parade) and Art of the Hunt (Lion Hearted) completing the order under the line. Celestial Kitten (Kitten's Joy) and Subpoena (Afleet Alex) were withdrawn.
Excited entered the Hilltop owning just one win, with that coming in her maiden debut at Saratoga last August. Since then the bay lass has competed out of stakes competition only once, running second in an optional claiming test at Aqueduct in November. She followed her maiden win with a fourth in the Miss Grillo S. (G3) and a second in the Good Mood S., and opened her three-year-old season with a runner-up finish in the Sweetest Chant S. Excited put in a mild bid to be third in the Herecomesthebride S. (G3) at Gulfstream in March and came into this one off an eighth-place run in the Ashland S. (G1). Her line now reads 8-2-3-1, $130,700.
BEN'S CAT (Parker's Storm Cat) began the stakes action on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard by earning his fifth stakes victory in come-from-behind fashion in the $75,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint S.
With Jeremy Rose sporting the silks of owner The Jim Stable, the dark bay gelding settled into last as Southern Region (Stormy Atlantic) took command of the five-furlong dash through splits of :22 4/5 and :47. Southern Region appeared a clear winner in the stretch while four lengths clear of his nearest rival, but his challengers were just gearing up. Local Celebrity (Tactical Cat) and Super Chunky (Put It Back) swept on by the early pacesetter, but neither could withstand the furious rally put in by Ben's Cat as he drew away to finish two lengths in front of Local Celebrity.
"I thought he would win, but that was a special win," trainer King Leatherbury said. "He's done that a couple of times when he's fired in the stretch and rolled away. It's beautiful when you see that. It's very thrilling."
It was another two lengths back to Super Chunky, with Southern Region and Blue Sailor (Northern Afleet) rounding out the depleted field following the scratches of Sneaking Uponyou (Snuck In), Heros Reward (Partner's Hero), Immortal Eyes (Greatness), Gattopardo (Johannesburg), Havelock (Great Notion) and Yield Bogey (Langfuhr).
Ben's Cat completed the Jim McKay Turf Sprint in :59 3/5 on the green to move his record to 14-10-1-0, $316,230. The five-year-old captured the Maryland Million Turf Sprint H., Mister Diz S. and Find H. last year, and two back defended his title in the off-the-turf Mister Diz.
Suzzona, who races for Sandy Valley Farms, made her stakes debut in this race last May, ironically just missing by a neck on that day, and earned her first stakes victory when taking the Lightning City S. at Tampa Bay Downs in December. Her mark now stands at 40-18-6-4 and the chestnut mare has banked $403,765 lifetime.
Send this article to a friend