The Pimlico Special Stakes (gr. III), returning to the Pimlico racing calendar after a three-year hiatus, has drawn a solid field of 10 handicap horses, headed by Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) winner Alternation.
Once a grade I event that has produced 15 Horse of the Year award winners in its 41 previous runnings, the Special is the 12th race on the May 18 card.
Trained by Donnie Don Hemel, Alternation is one of five horses that will carry top weight of 124 pounds in the Special. Pin Oak Stable’s son of Distorted Humor comes into the race with a three-race winning streak capped by the Oaklawn Handicap.
“This looked like a good next step for him,” Von Hemel. “We liked the distance (1 3/16 miles) and the type of race it is. It’s a race with a lot of tradition and history and it will set him up nicely for the Stephen Foster (gr. I, at Churchill Downs).”
Also expected to draw support in the Special is Todd Pletcher-trained Mission Impazible , who finished a nose behind Special contender Hymn Book in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) in February. Most recently, the son of Unbridled's Song finished second in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).
Among the four Oaklawn Handicap starters in the Special are Yawanna Twist and Hymn Book, third and fourth, respectively, at Oaklawn.
A son of Yonaguska who won the General George (gr. II) at Laurel Park in February for John Parisella, Yawanna Twist finished fourth in the 2010 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) while trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr., but then was off until February 2011.
Trainer Shug McGaughey said Hymn Book “had a little bit of an off day” in the Oaklawn Handicap. “But he’s seen a lot of these horses and he’s in there with them. I like this spot because it’s around two turns and he’s doing good. Of course, he likes about anything.”
$300,000 Pimlico Special Stakes (gr. III, Race 12, 5:51 p.m.), 3YO & Up, 1 3/16 miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Toby’s Corner (FL), E Castro, 118, H G Motion
2. Endorsement (KY), M Garcia, 124, E G Harty
3. Cease (KY), R Napravnik, 124, A M Stall Jr.
4. Hymn Book (KY), J R Velazquez, 124, C R McGaughey III
5. Cherokee Artist (124), V Santiago, 118, J J Robb
6. Nehro (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, S M Asmussen
7. Mission Impazible (KY), J Castellano, 118, T A Pletcher
8. Yawanna Twist (NY), M J Luzzi, 118, J Parisella
9. Alternationa (KY), L S Quinonez, 124, D K Von Hemel
10. Eighttofasttocatch (MD), S Russell, 124, T L Keefe