Diabolical Hot Choice in Maryland Sprint Handicap

By Jon Forbes

Diabolical will seek his first graded stakes win when he heads to the post for the Emirates Airlines Maryland Breeders’ Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico on the Preakness (gr. I) undercard on Saturday. The three-time stakes-winning son of Artax will face seven opponents, including five stakes winners.

Diabolical will attempt to avenge his father’s fifth-place finish in the 1999 renewal of the race. Artax checked while leading the race to avoid a patron that ran onto the track near the eighth pole and then tried to take a swing at the sprinter.

The 4-year-old Diabolical merits the 120-pound highweight off of his consecutive graded stakes-placings in his three starts leading to Saturday’s race. He has won stakes on dirt, on turf, sprinting, and routing. 

Diabolical, the eighth place finisher behind Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness, was bred in Kentucky by Longleaf Pine Farm. He is owned by Puglisi Stables and Steve Kelsaris. Diabolical will regain the services of jockey Mario Pino, who has had the mount aboard Diabolical in six of his 17 career starts.

Other stakes winners in the field include Semaphore Man, Celtic Innis, Talent Search, and Euro Code. Celtic Innis, a four time stakes winning son of Yarrow Brae, finished second in last year’s Maryland Breeders’ Cup Sprint. 

Fleet Valid is the only horse in the field who has never competed in a stakes race. The lightly raced 4-year-old son of Montbrook has led or been second at the first call in all of his victories and will be part of a scramble for the lead.

Fleet Valid has rapidly ascended through the allowance ranks, having won four of his six career starts, including his last three races. The Maryland Breeders’ Cup Sprint will be his first start under jockey Edgar Prado.

Emirates Airline Maryland Breeders’ Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. III). $200,000, 3-year-olds and up, Six Furlongs, Approximate Post 2:49 p.m.

PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Semaphore Man, 116, Robby Albarado
2 Diabolical, 120, Mario G. Pino
3 Celtic Innis, 114, John R. Velazquez
4 Sir Classic Chris, 112, Ryan Fogelsonger
5 First Word, 114, Rafael Bejarano
6 Fleet Valid, 114, Edgar Prado

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