Nine older horses, including 5-2 morning-line favorite A.P. Arrow, have been entered for the $250,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) May 16 at Pimlico Race Course. The 1 3/16-mile Special is contested at the same distance as the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which will be held the following day.
A.P. Arrow, a son of A.P. Indy, is winner of more than $1.4 million during a 23-race career, and is coming off a fourth-place finish to Curlin in the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). In his only other outing this year, A.P. Arrow was a solid second, beaten only a half-length by Spring At Last, in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
"He came out of Dubai very well and he's training very well," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who is hoping for some pace in the race. "Lots of speed. A good pace up front could certainly help him." Ramon Dominguez will be in the irons.
In addition to A.P. Arrow, the field also includes 3-1 second choice Grasshopper, trained by Neil Howard, who seeks to become a two-time winner of the Special. Howard scored five years ago with Mineshaft .
"This is a very nice horse, but a different type than Mineshaft," said Howard. "Mineshaft was a physical specimen, like a linebacker. Grasshopper is more like a wide receiver and a little more athletic. And Mineshaft was a little more accomplished at this time (in his career)."
In 10 lifetime starts, the Dixie Union colt has won or finished second nine times and he was a close third after encountering trouble in the other race. In his only grade I effort, he was second by a half-length to 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense in the Travers (gr. I) at Saratoga last August.
At 9-2, Gottcha Gold is the third pick following an impressive score in the grade III Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
"The Special wasn't our primary plan for him, but when the Memorial Day Handicap's purse was cut (at Calder) and would no longer be graded we were glad to have the Special as an option," said Eddie Plesa, Gottcha Gold's conditioner.
"I think he's deserving of starting in the race and will run well. He's a late developing horse. Last year was a banner year for him (more than $1 million in 2007 earnings)."
Trainer Nick Zito will be represented by Wanderin Boy (8-1) whose only start this year was a third over a sloppy track in the grade III, Alysheba at Churchill Downs May 2. At age 7, Wanderin Boy is the group's senior citizen.
Another million-dollar winner, Student Council, who took the grade I Pacific Classic last summer, will represent trainer Steve Asmussen at 6-1 while the local hopes will be carried by Ryan's for Real (10-1), who broke through with a victory in the Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne last month. He is trained by Dale Capuano.
ESPN2 will cover the May 16 races at Pimlico beginning at 4:40 p.m.
The field for the $250,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) includes:
1 --Ryan’s For Real (Erick Rodriguez, 10-1)
2--Gottcha Gold (C.C. Lopez, 9-2)
3--Student Council (Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1)
4 --A.P. Arrow (Ramon Dominguez, 5-2)
5 --Xchanger (Garrett Gomez, 20-1)
6--Wanderin Boy (Kent Desormeaux, 8-1)
7--Grasshopper (Robby Albarado, 3-1)
8--Sir Whimsey (Edgar Prado, 10-1)
9--Temporary Saint (John Velazquez, 10-1)