The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Seattle Fitz scored a 1 1/2-length win in the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
The Lady's Groom was second, with Roaring Fever 5 ¼ lengths back for third. Seattle Fitz completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.43.
McLaughlin conditions the 5-year-old son of Fitzcarraldo for West Point Thoroughbreds. Seattle Fitz was bred in Argentina by Firmamento.
The winner, ridden by Richard Migliore, returned $5, $3, and $2.40 as the 3-2 favorite in the field of eight. The Lady's Groom, the second choice at 5-2 with Horatio Karamanos in the irons, paid $3 and $2.40. Roaring Fever, the third selection at 7-2 with Jerry Bailey aboard, paid $2.80. The exacta paid $13.60.
Deeliteful Guy, White Buck, Jorgie Stover, Your Bluffing and Off the Glass completed the order.
Seattle Fitz was pressed into the favorite's role when the connections for Ole Faunty chose to run in Friday's Pimlico Special (gr. I) instead. Local hope Cherokee's Boy and One Eyed Joker also scratched from the Schaefer.
The win for Seattle Fitz was his first since nosing out Evening Attire in the Jan. 17 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Most recently he finished unplaced in the April 4 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
The Lady's Groom broke quickly from the extreme outside post while Seattle Fitz was rated back between rivals before moving out to challenge the leaders . The Lady's Groom held on the early lead to take the field through early fractions of :23.88, :47.81, and 1:12.08 before Seattle Fitz made his move as the field made their way around the final turn. Seattle Fitz and The Lady's Groom dueled down the stretch with Seattle Fitz getting the better of his rival and holding on under pressure from jockey Migliore.
"The race really set up for him perfectly," Migliore said. "He likes to be in a position where you don't have to get after him too much. When you drop the lines and get him into a comfortable rhythm he's a much better horse. He was much the best today."
Migliore, who suffered a leg injury in a gate mishap at Belmont Park on Thursday, won back-to-back on the Preakness undercard. He tallied with Artie Schiller in the Woodlawn earlier.
"I'm pretty beat up today after yesterday , but I'm feeling better every time I win," he said.
Seattle Fitz now owns a 5-3-2 record in 19 starts with earnings of $440,621.