Irish-bred Mr. O'Brien got a rail-skimming ride from Pat Day to win the $100,000 Woodlawn, the first stakes race of Saturday's Preakness program at a cloudy and cool Pimlico race course in Baltimore, Md.
The Michael Dickinson-trained colt tracked pacesetter Regal Sanction from third position through fractions of :24.05 for the quarter-mile, :49.41 for a half, and 1:14.70 for the opening six furlongs on a turf course rated yielding after overnight rains.
Mr. O'Brien began his rally when Regal Sanction drifted off the rail on the turn for home, but jockey Edgar Prado closed off the opening once straightening away into the stretch. Day sat patiently until a path reopened and Mr. O'Brien responded with a burst of speed, drawing clear from Regal Sanction by 2 ½ lengths at the finish. February Storm rallied wide on the turn for third, followed by Billy Elliot. Final time of the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds was 1:46.01. The winner paid $7.60 to win and combined with Regal Sanction for a $37 exacta.
"He was excited when we went under the wire the first time," said Day. "He has a sore mouth and as he turned his head, I had to straighten him. About the middle of the race, he really got into it and things went our way. I watched Edgar's horse trying to ghet out and Edgar did a great job of keeping him up there, but I was sure that he would eventually let me through because of the way he was running. Once we got the hole, he jumped through and ran very gamely.
The winner, owned by Skeedattle II, is by the Storm Bird stallion Mukiaddamah out of Laurel Delight by Presidium. He won at first asking in a maiden race on turf at Fair Grounds, then repeated on that surface over allowance company. In his last start, the Transylvania at Keeneland, he was a well-beaten sixth behind Flying Dash.
"In his last start he missed the break and then he just ran off," Dickinson said. "So we ran him in a schooling race at Fair Hill to get him relaxed. He did what we wanted him to do today." (Chart, Equibase