Stuart Janney III's Ironicus made the best of his stakes debut, rifling through the stretch to claim the $300,000 Longines Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) May 16 at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor is trained by Shug McGaughey. He was second in an allowance race last time out and only had an allowance win and maiden special weight victory to his credit prior to his performance in the Dixie, where he looked much the best under jockey Javier Castellano, pulling away to win by 2 3/4 lengths over longshot Cage Fighter. Up With the Birds was 1 1/4 lengths back in third.
Off at 7-1, the winner sat in ninth, more than seven lengths back of early leader Skyring through opening fractions of :23.69 and :48.14. Ironicus dropped back to 10th after six furlongs in 1:11.95, found space inside entering the lane then shifted out for a final surge. He finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.53 on a turf course rated firm.
"This race set up perfectly for us," Castellano said. "In his last race, the leader just galloped and he made a run, but didn't have a chance to win. The turf was also softer that day. He likes a little harder track and with today's fast pace, it was exactly what we needed. I think he may be able to step up."
Cage Fighter tracked in sixth for much of the race, then held a two-length lead at the top of the stretch before being caught by Ironicus.
"You've got to love this horse," Cage Fighter's jockey, Joe Bravo, said. "He always hits the board. I'm sorry we lost, but he ran great and hats off to the winners."
Ironicus delivered $16.20, $8.60, and $6 across the board. Cage Fighter brought $25.20 and $13.80. Up With the Birds paid $5 to show. The $2 exacta returned $317.80 an the $1 trifecta delivered $2,165.90.
Janney bred Ironicus in Kentucky from the A.P. Indy mare Meghan's Joy. The gray or roan colt boosted his earnings to $272,790 with the $180,000 winner's share. His record now stands at 3-3-1 from eight starts.
Favored Long On Value was an even fourth, followed by Legendary, Aripeka, Skyring, Manchurian High, Tricky Hat, Beyond Smart, Talk Show Man, Lochte, and Chamois. War Correspondent , the 7-2 favorite on the morning line, was scratched, along with Grand Tito, who was ruled out by the track veterinarian after an incident in the gate.