May 20, 2018

World Approval headlines Dixie on Preakness Stakes undercard

World Approval was a flashy winner of the Dixie Stakes (G2) on Preakness Day 2017 (Photos by Z)

While the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1) is the main attraction on Saturday at Pimlico, there are seven other stakes contests carded for the day, including the $250,000 Dixie Stakes (G2), $150,000 Gallorette Stakes (G3) and $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3).

The Dixie highlights the undercard as the 1 1/16-mile turf affair attracted reigning champion World Approval. The Mark Casse-trained six-year-old gelding captured last year’s edition by 2 1/4 lengths and wrapped up 2017 with victories in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1), Woodbine Mile (Can-G1) and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). That was enough for the gray son of Northern Afleet to be honored with an Eclipse Award as champion turf male.

World Approval scored in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) on February 10 to open 2018 but enters the Dixie off a fifth-placing in the March 10 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1). John Velazquez takes back the mount as the Florida homebred faces seven rivals, including multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero, on Saturday.

Two races later, eight distaffers will go 1 1/16 miles in the grassy Gallorette, the sister race to the Dixie. Just like the Dixie, the Gallorette has drawn last year’s winner back for a title defense run.

Cambodia has only ever raced once at Pimlico, and that resulted in a two-length score in the 2017 Gallorette. Following that, the Tom Proctor trainee sandwiched wins in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) and John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) between third-place efforts in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3) and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The bay daughter of War Front closed out her five-year-old season with a fourth-place run in the Matriarch Stakes (G1) on November 26.

Cambodia opened 2018 with a sixth-placing in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on April 14, and will attempt to get back to the winner’s circle with Julien Leparoux aboard on Saturday.

The six-furlong Maryland Sprint stakes place on Pimlico’s main track and will see nine runners head to post.

Long Haul Bay and Lewisfield look to duke it out in the contest after going 4-3-0-0 and 7-5-1-1, respectively, in their short careers. The Chad Brown-trained Long Haul Bay captured the Bay Shore Stakes (G3) last April and was a 4 1/2-length allowance/optional claiming winner in his four-year-old bow on April 22 at Aqueduct. Lewisfield is two-for-two on the year after taking an allowance/optional claimer by 6 3/4 lengths on February 3 for trainer Jeff Runco and earning his first stakes win in the Not for Love Stakes last out on March 17 at Laurel Park.

Regular rider Manny Franco has the call on Long Haul Bay while Arnaldo Bocachica pilots Lewisfield.

A field of nine has been entered to go six furlongs on the dirt in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes. Mitole is the likely favorite off a trio of romping wins at Oaklawn Park earlier this year. The Steven Asmussen pupil earned triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings for his latest scores and keeps Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons.

Among those the Eskendereya sophomore faces in the Chick Lang is Grade 2 victor Run Away. That Simon Callaghan-trained bay capped off a three-race win streak in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) last August before finishing third in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and taking the Barretts Juvenile Stakes in his penultimate start of the season. The bay sophomore was last seen running a well-beaten fifth in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) on November 11. Regular rider Flavien Prato has the call.

The $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes features 11 runners going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Pony Up has been knocking on the door of a stakes win, just missing by a neck in the Jeff Ruby Stakes (G3) and filling out the third spot in the Lexington Stakes (G3) in his past pair. John Velazquez will be in the pilot’s seat.

Also entered in the Sir Barton are Sunland Derby (G3) third-placer Dream Baby Dream, who will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., and Title Ready, who reunites with Jose Ortiz after that one guided him to a fourth-place effort in the Rebel Stakes (G2) two back.

One race before the Sir Barton 14 distaffers have been entered to sprint five furlongs on the turf in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes.

Pretty Perfection returns after missing by only 1 1/4 lengths when fourth in last year’s running of the race. The six-year-old mare gets Jose Ortiz in the saddle for the first time as she attempts to record her third stakes win in this spot.

Jessica Krupnick was fourth by only three parts of a length in the Whimsical Stakes (Can-G3) over Woodbine’s synthetic Tapeta most recently and tries the turf for only the second time here. Boos is Group 2-placed in her native France and makes her fourth stateside start in The Very One. Forest Bryce holds the reins on Jessica Krupnick while Jevian Toledo has the call on four-year-old Boos.

Saturday’s stakes action kicks off in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes, which will send nine runners a mile on the turf.

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