Ageless, Wallyanna Take Pimlico Turf Stakes
As her name implies, Ageless, winner of the $100,000 The Very One Stakes Presented by HRTV May 17 at Pimlico Race Course, continues to improve with age (VIDEO).
In a second turf race on the Preakness undercard, Wallyanna, claimed two starts previously, rewarded his new connections with an impressive stakes win in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes Presented by RTN for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf (VIDEO).
Ageless, under confident handling from jockey Luis Garcia, raced near mid-pack into the far turn while 22-1 shot Knit One Purr Too carved out early splits of :22.63 and :47.02 in leading the maximum field of 14 around the far turn.
Two races later, Wallyanna, ridden by Javier Castellano, hopped inward at the break and rated in third position while pulling his way around the first turn. Open the Bank, a 25-1 long shot, dictated proceedings early and led the field of eight into the backstretch through fractions of :23.82 and :48.77.
Rounding the far turn after six furlongs went in 1:13.89, Wallyanna forged alongside the pacesetter. Open the Bank came off the rail in the lane, brushing with Wallyanna who appeared to lug in while discovering his best stride. Once leveled out, Wallyanna drew clear in the lane under right-handed encouragement from Castellano to win by a widening 4 3/4 lengths. The winner covered the distance in 1:39.09 over a turf course listed as good.
"Our goal today was to take him back a little bit, then kick to the finish," said Castellano. "I was able to take him back and rate behind the leaders. He sat beautiful on the backside. Turning for home, the front-runner drifted a little bit and I had to check. We steadied and then he showed good acceleration when I asked him for run. It was very impressive the way he did it today."
Under equal weights of 116 pounds, Wallyanna returned $7.80, $4.60, and $3.60 and topped a $184.80 exacta over runner-up Open the Bank ($15.40 and $6.60), who fought back bravely to save second. Thunder Strike closed ground late to get third,returning $4.20 to show. The 2-1 race favorite, Special Envoy was never a factor and wound up fifth.
Trainer Michael Pino claimed Wallyanna for owner Tim E. O'Donohue Racing for $35,000 from the colt's breeder Mike Tarp and trainer Dale Romans off a maiden-breaking effort at Gulfstream Park March 16. That start followed a fifth-place finish at Churchill Downs on debut last November.
Following the claim, the dark bay or brown colt promptly won an allowance event at Keeneland April 12 in his first start for Pino.
"He had an OK race at Churchill and we thought we'd go over and look at him," explained Pino of the claim. "If he was impressive looking we figured we would take a shot. Obviously, he's an awesome-looking horse. We got lucky.
"When we first got him he had presence and acted like a good horse," Pino added. "I couldn't have asked for this race to go better. He's a young horse and is still learning."
The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Langfuhr, out of the Tale of the Cat mare Magbel, is a winner in three of four lifetime starts with earnings of $91,086.
As for what's up next for Wallyanna, Pino said, "Hopefully there's some more bright light ahead. Anything is possible. We'll sit back, see how he comes out of it and play it by ear."
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