Donegal Racing’s Paddy O'Prado, an Eclipse Award finalist from a year ago, returns from a six-month layoff to face seven rivals in the $200,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) May 21 at Pimlico Race Course.
The 1 1/8-mile Dixie, for 3-year-olds and up on the turf, is one of five graded stakes on the program and is run one race prior to the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Post time is slated for 5:06 p.m. EDT.
Despite having not raced since November, Paddy O'Prado was pegged as the heavy 4-5 morning-line choice in the Dixie. The 4-year-old son of El Prado won four graded stakes on turf last season, including the grade I Secretariat at Arlington. The versatile colt was also runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Polytrack and third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on dirt.
Paddy O’Prado finished his stellar 3-year-old season in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs when finishing fifth. He was a finalist for champion 3-year-old colt.
Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will keep the mount on Paddy O’Prado, who will break from post 4.
“All along the plan was to give him some time off after the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Dale Romans. “There was nothing wrong with him, we just wanted to give him a break. He had some muscle soreness, so it took a while for him to get in the groove.
“We were looking to start him back in the Woodford (gr. IT, at Churchill Downs), but that didn’t happen. He needed a little more time. But I’m really feeling good about him now. He seems plenty fit. When he got off the van it was like he knew what was going on. He knew it was game time.”
Also entering off a lengthy layoff is Earle I. Mack’s Grand Rapport, who was last seen when winning the Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) in September at Delaware Park. The Grand Reward gelding has won two of his last three starts, his only setback coming by a nose in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga.
The 9-2 second choice on the morning line, Grand Rapport will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez for Gary Contessa.
$200,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 11, 5:06 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Eighttofasttocatch, (MD), S Russell, 118, T L Keefe, 10/1
2. Lonely Whistle (NY), F Boyce, 118, E Maher, 20/1
3. Grand Rapport (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, G C Contessa, 9/2
4. Paddy O'Prado (KY), K J Desormeaux, 118, D L Romans, 4/5
5. Baryshnikov (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, M J Maker, 10/1
6. Slews Answer (FL), R Maragh, 118, H G Motion, 6/1
7. Pocket Patch (PA), J Joyce, 118, F W Stites, 12/1
8. Bim Bam (FL), G K Gomez, 118, R Moquett, 10/1