Trainer Steve Asmussen has another rising three-year-old sprinter in his barn in Ryvit, who decisively prevailed in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico, a race marred by the fatal injury suffered by odds-on favorite Havnameltdown.
Narrowly in front of Havnameltdown entering the far turn when that rival suffered an inoperable injury and dumped jockey Luis Saez, Ryvit soon found himself well in front of the pack passing the quarter pole. Opening up a four-length advantage in midstretch, Ryvit safely held off a late bid from Prince of Jericho to win by 1 3/4 lengths under Tyler Gaffalione.
Owned by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Ryvit covered six furlongs in 1:09.33 over a fast track and paid $12.80 as the third choice in a field of seven three-year-olds. Prince of Jericho finished four lengths clear of Frosted Departure, who was followed by Prove Right, Super Chow, and Bristol Channel.
Havnameltdown, a three-time graded stakes winner who most recently missed by a head in the Feb. 25 Saudi Derby, was found to have fractured his left front ankle and was euthanized. Saez was sent to a local hospital complaining of leg pain.
“We never had an issue with him,” trainer Bob Baffert said of Havnameltdown. “We are so careful with all these horses, and it still happens. It is something that is disheartening. I feel so bad for that horse, and I just hope that Luis is ok.”
This was the sixth career win in the Chick Lang for Asmussen, the most notable of his previous winners being future sprint champion Mitole (2018). The Chick Lang was the fourth win in a row for Ryvit, who entered off a trio of victories during the spring at Oaklawn Park, including the April 29 Bachelor S.
“Obviously the sprint stakes at Saratoga are lucrative and what we will aim for next,” Asmussen said of the winner.
Bred in Kentucky by Curt Leake, Ryvit sold for $70,000 as a yearling at the Texas Thoroughbred Association sale. By Competitive Edge, he was produced by She is Bedazzling, a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister to Grade 2 winner High Dollar Woman.
Baffert had better luck in the $100,000 Sir Barton S., when Arabian Lion cruised to a four-length win as the 2-5 favorite in a field of five three-year-olds. A half-length second to scratched Preakness (G1) entrant First Mission in the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland, Arabian Lion made all to win in a time of 1:41.13 for 1 1/16 miles under John Velazquez.
“I should have run him in the Preakness!” Baffert said. “What I saw today I thought I was going to see in the Lexington. If he would have won the Lexington, he would have definitely been in the Preakness. I think that race sort of helped him, and I wanted to give him one more time around two turns.”
Owned by Zedan Racing, Arabian Lion returned $2.80. Finishing second in the Sir Barton, restricted to nonwinners of open stakes, was second choice Tapit’s Conquest, who had 6 1/2 lengths on Denington.
Sold for $600,000 at OBS as a juvenile, Arabian Lion is by the Baffert-trained Triple Crown winner Justify and out of the stakes-placed Unbound, by Distorted Humor. His third dam was the undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign.
Straight No Chaser turned in a dazzling display to land his first stakes win in the $100,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) under John Velazquez.
The 8-5 favorite in a field of nine, Straight No Chaser led from the start and opened up down the lane to record a 7 1/2-length victory in a stakes-record time of 1:08.27 for six furlongs.
Owned by MyRacehorse and trained by Dan Blacker, Straight No Chaser paid $5.20. Prevalence just lasted for second by a nose over Nakatomi.
Seventh of nine in the Dec. 26 Malibu (G1) and third in the Palos Verdes (G3) in early February, Straight No Chaser entered off an allowance win at Oaklawn by more than seven lengths. He’s now won four of seven starts.
“In the last eight months he’s improved a lot mentally. He’s gotten much more mature, much more straightforward to be around,” Blacker said. “You can see he’s shipped for two races now and done really well.”
A four-year-old by Speightster, the Kentucky-bred was produced by Margarita Friday, a daughter of Johannesburg who has also reared the stakes-winning Hangover Saturday.
Bred by John Eaton and Steve Laymon, Straight No Chaser was sold for $110,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile.
The Chilean-bred mare Cheetara made a resolute rally down the center of the track and was up in time to take the $100,000 Skipat S. as a 17-1 chance under Vincent Cheminaud.
A Group 2 winner in her home country and a dual stakes winner since her importation, Cheetara had been producing more modest form since last August, but turned in one of her better efforts to prevail in a time of 1:09.95 for six furlongs. She returned $36 for owner Stud Los Leones and trainer Ignacio Correas.
Finishing second in the Skipat was Olivia Darling, who had a half-length on I’m the Boss of Me. Gunning, the 19-10 favorite and a half-sister to Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage, finished sixth in the field of eight fillies and mares.
A six-year-old by Daddy Long Legs, Cheetara has now won eight of 24 career starts.