Assigned the highweight of 124 pounds in the 1 3/16-mile test, Stronach Stables' 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper enters off a three-quarters of a length win in the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1) March 11. One race prior he finished 4 3/4 lengths behind champion Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), besting other grade 1 winners Keen Ice, Noble Bird, and two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome .
"He came out of the last race good," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "We were kind of idling along and not knowing when his next start was going to be. Luckily I kept him kind of going, and we didn't stop on him or anything like that.
"I kept him breezing a little bit in case something popped up," he said of the runner, who last worked a bullet five furlongs May 10 at Belmont Park's training track in :59. "Mr. Stronach decided he wanted to run at Pimlico. (Shaman Ghost has) been running every couple months and it's kind of been working out so he wanted to stick to that. It was fine with me.
"The mile and three-sixteenths shouldn't be a big deal for him. He's won going a mile and a half, he's won going a mile and a quarter, and he's won going a mile and an eighth. I don't see how a mile and three-sixteenths is that big a difference."
Shaman Ghost will break from post 6 with jockey Javier Castellano aboard.
Jerkens also saddles Dede McGehee's Dolphus, a 4-year-old Lookin At Lucky colt who is a half brother to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. The colt enters off an April 23 allowance victory at Aqueduct Racetrack and ran fourth in the Stymie Stakes in March. Dolphus breaks from the rail with Rajiv Maragh up.
"He ran very well in the Stymie, then he won the three-other-than going a mile out of the chute," Jerkens said. "We didn't know where else to run him. Without any conditions it's kind of tough to find a spot after that, so we thought he might lay up close and maybe get brave on the lead and get something."
John Oxley's Noble Bird is looking for another win in the Pimlico Special after taking last year's edition by 11 1/4 lengths.
Trained by Mark Casse, the 6-year-old son of Birdstone has run off the board in his last four starts. He last hit the wire first in the Oct. 29 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) last October at Keeneland. He starts from post 5 with Julien Leparoux up.
Also entered are Ben Ali Stakes (G3) 1-2 finishers, Godolphin's Watershed and W.S. Farish's Eagle. Both runners rallied from off the pace in the April 15 Bel Ali, Watershed finishing 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Eagle.
The Kiaran McLauglin-trained Watershed ran off the board after getting caught in traffic in the grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes on Gulfstream Park's turf. In January the 5-year-old son of Bernardini won a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream by 9 1/2 lengths.
Neil Howard-trained Eagle has only finished worse than fourth twice in his 19 race career. Prior to the Ben Ali he ran fourth in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) and the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Pimlico Race Course, Friday, May 19, 2017, Race 7
- 1 3/16m
- 3 yo's & up
- 2:39 PM (local)
|1||1Dolphus (KY)||Rajiv Maragh||118||James A. Jerkens||8/1|
|2||2Eagle (KY)||John R. Velazquez||118||Neil J. Howard||8/1|
|3||3Watershed (KY)||Paco Lopez||120||Kiaran P. McLaughlin||6/1|
|4||4Discreet Lover (FL)||Jose Luis Flores||118||Uriah St. Lewis||30/1|
|5||5Noble Bird (KY)||Julien R. Leparoux||118||Mark E. Casse||8/1|
|6||6Shaman Ghost (ON)||Javier Castellano||124||James A. Jerkens||4/5|
|7||7Name Changer (KY)||Jevian Toledo||118||Alan E. Goldberg||20/1|
|8||8Bodhisattva (CA)||Xavier Perez||118||Jose Corrales||30/1|
|9||9Conquest Windycity (KY)||Luis Saez||118||Brendan P. Walsh||15/1|
|10||10Fellowship (FL)||Joel Rosario||118||Kenneth Decker||20/1|