Meadowood, Class Leader Win Stakes at Pimlico
The son of Harlan's Holiday tallied his third win from as many starts after Javier Castellano moved him off the rail in the stretch and guided him through a gap. Meadowood collared favored Brewing and drew off.
Later on the card Illinois Derby (gr. III) fourth-place finisher Class Leader closed furiously on the outside and wrested the lead late for a head win in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds (VIDEO).
Meadowood was a convincing winner of his career debut last June at Monmouth Park, his only start at 2 for trainer Todd Pletcher. He took an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs March 12, more than nine months later in his first start back and first under trainer Derek Ryan, before progressing to stakes company in the Chick Lang.
With Meadowood stalking from third on the rail, two-time stakes winner Brewing led through solid fractions of :23.45 for the opening quarter and :46.66 for the half, with Prudhoe Bay tracking about a length back in second. Extending his advantage over that rival by 1 1/2 lengths entering the stretch, Brewing cruised through five furlongs in :58.35 before Meadowood came calling to his outside and took charge to win.
Meadowood was timed in 1:10.11 for six furlongs on a fast track. Prudhoe Bay stayed on to hold for third, a length behind 7-5 favorite Brewing.
"It was really professional how he did it," Castellano said of how Meadowood won. "He got in behind and at the top of the stretch he took off. He's going to be a good horse in the future. The only speed horse was the 9 (Brewing). I didn't want to hook him and that was the horse to beat. I just wanted to track him and get him at the right time and the right place."
The winner is campaigned by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton, who teamed to buy him for $190,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale from consignor Three Chimneys, agent. He was bred in Kentucky by Scott Dilworth out of the stakes-winning Untuttable mare Into Reality.
"This is a classy horse and he's the kind that doesn't need to have the lead," Ryan said after the Chick Lang. "I got him in the middle of January. We had entered in a stake in New York and scratched out of that and this race came up and looked like a good spot."
Meadowood paid $12.20, $4.40 and $3.40 as the fourth choice while carrying 116 pounds. Brewing, trying for a third straight stakes win as the 122-pound highweight, returned $3 and $2.80. Prudhoe Bay brought $3.40 in finishing third.
Ground Control, who was cross-entered in the Sir Barton Stakes later on the card, and Elevated were scratched.
Class Leader's Sir Barton victory was the first in a stakes for the son of Smart Strike and his third from five career starts.
He's Achance opened a clear lead out of the gate and was tracked by Life in Shambles in second and Six Spot in third while 9-5 favorite Class Leader raced well off the early pace in seventh.
Life in Shambles grabbed the lead by a head nearing the home turn and Six Spot was ridden to challenge. As the pair dueled through the stretch, Class Leader moved four wide and powerfully accelerated on the outside under James Graham. Life in Shambles edged past Six Spot in the closing stages but Class Leader was unstoppable and got the win.
Class Leader stopped the timer in 1:43.79 for 1 1/16 miles.
Class Leader was bred by William S. Farish and is campaigned by Lane's End Racing, the racing branch of Farish's Lane's End in Versailles, Ky., and trainer Neil Howard. His dam is multiple graded stakes winner Class Kris, by Kris S. He is a half brother to two-time grade I winner Student Council and grade III winner Gradepoint.
The colt was a well-beaten sixth last October at Churchill Downs in his only start at 2. He came back in 2014 with a breakthrough win in his season debut in February at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and followed up with a win in allowance/optional company at the New Orleans track March 13 before a big step up in class in the April 19 Illinois Derby April. After racing a forwardly in the 1 1/8-mile race, he faded to fourth behind winner Dynamic Impact, a contender in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) later on the Pimlico card.
"He's a nice colt," Howard said of Class Leader after the Sir Barton. "He's kind of a big colt, still growing up, but a very nice colt. I think he has a future. We couldn't be happier.
"He had to work but that's the kind of horse he is. It just takes a while for him to get his feet under him. We all agreed he was a little close in the Illinois Derby, but the horse that won (Dramatic Impact) is a very nice horse running in the Preakness today. We weren't quite ready for that."
Life in Shambles held for second, with Six Spot a length back in third.
Class Leader paid $5.60, $3.40 and $2.80 while Life in Shambles paid $4.60 and $2.60. Six Spot returned $3.80.
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