The Pimlico turf course was playing quick enough on Preakness Day to produce course records in both the Dinner Party S. (G2) and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint S.
Dinner Party S. (G2)
Trainer Mike Maker continued his hot hand with Somelikeithotbrown in Saturday’s $250,000 Dinner Party. A troubled second in last year’s pandemic-delayed running, the son of Big Brown enjoyed a straightforward passage courtesy of Jose Ortiz to go one better.
The 2.80-1 second choice wasn’t quickest into stride on the rail, but that worked to his advantage. A pace duel had proved costly in his reappearance in the April 9 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland, where Somelikeithotbrown faded to seventh. That scenario was to be studiously avoided here.
Ortiz let pace rival Flying Scotsman go, and steered Somelikeithotbrown out into a favorable stalking perch. After splits of :23.78 and :47.33 on the firm turf, Somelikeithotbrown accosted Flying Scotsman at the six-furlong mark in 1:10.52 and seized command.
Although the new leader didn’t open up on the field, his pursuers weren’t able to make much of an impact. Somelikeithotbrown ground out a one-length decision while lowering the 1 1/16-mile course record to 1:40.09. The previous mark of 1:40.24 was set by Inside Out in 2016.
The 14-1 Talk or Listen kept on for second in the blanket finish, a head in front of 19-1 Midnight Tea Time. Sacred Life, the 13-10 favorite, made headway from last to dead-heat for fourth with Bye Bye Melvin. Flying Scotsman tired to sixth, followed by English Bee and Kuramata.
New York-bred Somelikeithotbrown boosted his bankroll to $842,838 from a 19-7-4-2 line. Owned by Skychai Racing and his co-breeder, Sand Dollar Stable, the bay placed in the 2018 With Anticipation (G3), Pilgrim (G3), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). At three, he captured the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) and John Battaglia Memorial. Last season, he scored in the Bernard Baruch (G2) and Mohawk and added placings in the Kentucky Cup Classic and Fort Marcy (G2).
Somelikeithotbrown was bred by Sand Dollar in partnership with Hot Pink Stables. Out of the Tapit mare Marilyn Monroan, the five-year-old is a half-brother to another well-named stakes winner, Jolting Joe. This is the family of champions Stevie Wonderboy and Big Blue Kitten.
Jim McKay Turf Sprint S.
Robert V. LaPenta and Harlow Stables’ Firecrow transferred his useful dirt form to grass to upset the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint in course-record time.
The Ron Moquett trainee was coming off a fourth in the March 13 Hot Springs S. at Oaklawn Park to C Z Rocket, champion stablemate Whitmore, and subsequent Grade 1 winner Flagstaff. Cutting back to five furlongs and switching surfaces made for a new career high.
Confidently handled by Joel Rosario, the 9-1 shot tracked 8-5 favorite The Critical Way through fractions of :21.92 and :43.95 and gradually wore him down late. Firecrow was a neck up in a final time of :55.30, eclipsing the old mark of :55.66 established by Ageless in the 2015 The Very One S.
Completed Pass, who lost his best chance with a slow start, worked his way into a commendable third. Boldor completed the superfecta in fourth, while defending champion Hollis wound up seventh in the 13-horse field.
Firecrow had lost his two prior turf attempts, but his close third to eventual Grade 2 winners Fast Boat and Texas Wedge in a 2019 Keeneland allowance implied he was up to this level. Having missed the bulk of 2020, and wintered at Oaklawn Park, the bay gelding hadn’t had another turf opportunity near at hand in the interim. His stakes breakthrough advanced his scorecard to 14-4-3-2, $233,536.
Bred by Johnson, Galvin, and Flounders in Kentucky, Firecrow RNA’d for $16,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. But the son of Maclean’s Music appreciated in his ensuing tours of the sale ring, bringing $70,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July and $300,000 at the same venue’s Midlantic May Sale. His dam, the Indian Charlie mare Cheyenne Autumn, hails from the extended family of Hall of Famers Winning Colors and Chris Evert.