December 1, 2022

King for a Day back for Sir Barton; Wentz tries graded company in Maryland Sprint

Wentz training at Keeneland (c) Coady Photography

King for a Day established himself as a Kentucky Derby contender recording a close fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last November but didn’t make it back in time for the spring classic. His sophomore season begins Saturday in the $100,000 Sir Barton, one of three dirt stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, King for a Day broke his maiden when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in his second career start at Belmont Park. He came back with a strong showing in his stakes debut, striking the front in upper stretch of the Kentucky Jockey Club before grudgingly giving way in the latter stages, and was included in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager off the encouraging performance.

A half-brother to a pair of stakes winners, King for a Day is by Uncle Mo and will meet five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton. He’s been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite with John Velazquez.

Top Line Growth, an April 22 runaway debut winner at Laurel Park for Kelley Rubley, is listed as the 9-5 second choice in his first start against winners. Julian Pimentel retains the mount on the Tapizar gelding. Rubley will also send out Pretty Good Year, who exits a close third in a Laurel Park allowance.

In the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3), Wentz will step up to the graded level following a game win over stakes-caliber allowance foes at Keeneland. The four-year-old colt has captured both starts this season for Jason Servis and Joel Rosario guides the promising front-running son of Super Saver.

Multiple stakes victor Lewisfield, second most recently in the April 20 Frank Whiteley Jr. at Laurel, has been pegged as the early 9-5 favorite in the six-furlong test. Grade 3 winners Always Sunshine and Proforma are also part of the seven-horse field.

A solid cast of nine three-year-old sprinters will contest the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at six furlongs. Preamble, who remained perfect when opening 2019 with a convincing allowance triumph at Keeneland, is the slight 5-2 morning line favorite in his stakes bow. Rodolphe Brisset conditions the Speightstown colt and Florent Geroux has the call.

Malpais merits serious respect following a pair of convincing wins and Luis Saez will be up for Joe Sharp. Unbeaten Pyron, who will make his first stakes appearance for Steve Asmussen, adds further depth after recording a pair of nice wins at Oaklawn Park.