Arthur B. Hancock III's Burnish, who liked the sloppy surface at Keeneland in her last start, also enjoyed the off going Friday at Pimlico, splashing home to win the $100,000 Miss Preakness (gr. III) under Rafael Bejarano.
In a non-winners of two allowance race at Keeneland April 23 on a sloppy track, Burnish drew off to win by an easy 10 ¼ lengths. The 3-year-old Kentucky homebred daughter of Menifee
didn't win by as big a margin at Pimlico in her graded stakes debut, but she came from off the pace and passed the leaders just as easily to win by two lengths. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:12 2/5.
"The filly's bred by one of the great breeders of all time, Arthur Hancock," said winning trainer Nick Zito. "That's all you have to say. I was glad to see the muddy track because she ran so well on a wet track at Keeneland last out. She ran huge today."
Missile Bay outbroke the field but was quickly joined by Partners Due and Hot Storm. Bejarano was content to get in position behind the leaders in the seven-horse field, which was reduced when Miss Lombardi and Loch Nessie were scratched.
The field went a quarter in :23.75 and a half in :46.80 with Partners Due and Ramon Dominguez leading, but as the field turned for home, Bejarano had Burnish in full flight on the outside and she swept to the lead.
"I had a lot of horse throughout the race," Bejarano said. "She wasn't even blowing hard. I wanted to stay close and make one big move, and that move was everything I was hoping for and more."
Partners Due hung tough down the lane for second. Hot Storm, with Jerry Bailey aboard, was third.
Slight 3-2 favorite Maddalena was never in the hunt and finished last under John Velazquez, eight lengths behind the winner.
"She didn't get away well from the gate, and she didn't like the slop in her face," said Todd Pletcher, who saddled the favorite. "She wouldn't level out."
As the second choice, Burnish, trained by Nick Zito, paid $5.60, $4.20, and $3. Partners Due returned $12 and $6, and Hot Storm was worth $3.60.
Flowerbud, Hear Us Roar and Missile Bay were ahead of Maddalena at the end.
Burnish, out of the Well Decorated mare Burnished Bright, won for the fourth time in her seven-race career and increased her earnings to $173,879. She ran fifth in last fall's Pocahontas at Churchill Downs in her only previous stakes start.