Lion D N A and Joel Rosario take the Skipat at Pimlico.

Lion D N A and Joel Rosario take the Skipat at Pimlico.

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Lion D N A, Miss Behaviour Score at Pimlico

Lion Heart mare guided to win by Joel Rosario in opening stakes at Pimlico May 16.

Lion D N A enjoyed an ideal set-up in splashing to victory in the $100,000 Skipat Stakes Presented by Finlandia, the first of seven stakes races on the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes program May 16 at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO).

Later on the card, Miss Behaviour wired nine rivals, leading from start to finish in the $100,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs (VIDEO).

Ridden by Joel Rosario, who picked up the mount earlier in the day, Lion D N A comfortably tracked from third the contested early pace set by race favorite Winning Image and Flattering Bea who dueled through an opening quarter in :22.92 over the sloppy, sealed track.

The leaders hit the half-mile mark in :45.84 with little between them while Lion D N A swung wide around the turn to launch her bid. After brushing slightly with She's Ordained at the top of the stretch, Lion D N A hit her best stride in the lane and collared the pacesetters inside the sixteenth pole.

Lion D N A won the six-furlong fixture by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:11.09, and returned $11.20, $5.60, and $2.80. Flattering Bea, runner-up in last year's Miss Preakness Stakes on Black-Eyed Susan day, gamely held second ($6.40 and $3) and completed the $59.60 exacta. Winning Image finished third and paid $2.10 to show.

"I had a plan to send her a little bit," said Rosario. "I just let her sail and let her make the one run. I was hoping she wouldn't drop far back. It took some time to get her in the race. If I would have let her fall too far, I didn't think she could make it."

Bred in Illinois by Pat Greco, Lion D N A is owned by Ronald Ulrich, Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith. Rudy Rodriguez trains the 5-year-old mare by Lion HeartToo Many Holes, by Touch Gold.

"The shorter field really helped," said Asquith. "My horse relishes the slop. The race set up perfectly for us because there was speed up front. That helped us out and gave us a shot in the last half furlong."

The Skipat score was Lion D N A's third stakes victory for Rodriguez in her past five starts. Earlier this year she annexed both the Interborough and Correction handicaps, both at six furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The $60,200 winner's share of the Skipat purse raised Lion D N A's bankroll to $403,598. She is now a winner in nine of 31 lifetime starts.

Originally drawn with a field of nine, the Skipat Stakes was reduced to five starters as a result of scratches due to the sloppy condition of the racetrack.

In the Miss Preakness, Miss Behaviour and jockey Sheldon Russell dictated proceedings from the first jump. Typically a stalker, Miss Behavior broke sharply and Russell let her roll down the backstretch with Sweetmarys Success glued to her flank on the outside.

With an opening quarter in :22.74 and a half mile in :46.03, Miss Behaviour appeared well within herself and led the field around the far turn.

When called upon for more run by Russell in the stretch, Miss Behaviour responded gamely and scampered clear. Leading by as many as 4 1/2 lengths, the bay filly held at bay a steady late charge from Stormy Novel who emerged from the pack mid-stretch to chase Miss Behaviour home.

Miss Behaviour went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths, completing the distance over a track upgraded to fast in 1:10.85.

Miss Behaviour returned $12, $7, and $3.60. Stormy Novel ($23, $10) completed the $205 exacta, and Jojo Warrior ($2.40) finished third as the 7-5 race favorite.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Cal MacWilliam and Teitelbaum and Associates and racing in the colors of MacWilliam and Neil Teitelbaum, Miss Behaviour is a 3-year-old daughter of Jump Start  out of the Successful Appeal  mare Successful Romance.

It was the third lifetime stakes win for Miss Behaviour who captured the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Matron Stakes (gr.II) at Belmont Park last year at 2. Miss Behaviour kicked off her 2014 campaign with a third-place finish April 19 in the Stormy Blue Stakes at five furlongs over the grass.

With the $60,000 winner's share of the purse, Miss Behaviour has amassed career earnings of $312,000 and has won four of seven lifetime starts.

Trainer Phil Schoenthal was impressed with his charge's wire-to-wire score in the Miss Preakness.

"Obviously coming into this year we had big hopes and dreams of going to some big races with her," Schoenthal said.

"Not winning her prep for this left us with a lump in our throat hoping she wasn't just a flash in the pan 2-year-old. There was a little trepidation coming into this race. I was hoping she would prove herself. She's a pleasure to train."

"The plan was to lay off the pace," Schoenthal added, "but she broke so well, he (Russell) let her do her thing. That's why you pay jockeys to be jockeys."

Russell said of his winning ride: "She really has a lot of speed. She broke sharp today and just carried me all the way around the track. She kept me out of trouble and not one time did I have to move on her until the stretch. When I asked her, she kept going nicely. She was very impressive today."