Michael Gill's Pioneer Boy rolled to an impressive victory in the $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup (gr. III)at Pimlico Saturday. Trained by John J. Robb, the 5-year-old gelding by Pioneering was ridden by Jeremy Rose.
One of Pioneer Boy's entrymates, Tasty Caberneigh, outbroke the winner and the two got the early jump on the field, but Pioneer Boy wrestled the lead and set an opening quarter fraction of :23.60 in the six-furlong race. Shah Jehan got into third position while traveling wide and tracked the top two. The half-mile split was a quick :46.24 over the muddy going.
Turning for home, Pioneer Boy opened up a sizable advantage and cruised to the line to win by 1 ½ lengths. A late-rallying Sassy Hound got second. The final time was 1:10.35. The three-horse entry, which also included Highway Prospector, was sent off at 3-5.
Rose said Pioneer Boy was hard to saddle because "he doesn't like this paddock. We didn't break real fast. I thought I hustled him too much, but then he relaxed and I felt more confident. I liked the way it ended."
Robb said the race didn't start very well.
"I had to wrestle with him out in the mud just to get the tack on him. Then he broke flat-footed and was still able to win. He was all upset in the paddock, and that's what made him mad. Maybe that's the key to this horse. He gets scared and maybe that's what makes him run so fast."
The winner paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Sassy Hound, who rallied for second, paid $3.00 to place. The exacta returned $9.60. Tasty Caberneigh and Highway Prospector dead-heated for third.
Ramon Dominguez, jockey on Sassy Hound, had no excuse.
"He responded very well when I asked him at the top of the lane. But he just could not get to the winner. He ran a very good race."
Pioneer Boy was bred in Texas by Ruth C. Brightbill. He is out of the Northern Jove mare Jovial Wings. His eighth win in 26 races, his first in a graded stakes, was worth $120,000. He's bankrolled $293,865.