Taqarub, Checklist, and Yano – all graded stakes placed in their last starts– lead a field of nine 3-year-old sprinters looking to take their games to the next level in the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (gr. III) May 16 at Pimlico.
The six-furlong Hirsch Jacobs is the fourth of seven graded stakes on the Pimlico program that features the $1.1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The Jacobs post time is set for 2:35 p.m. EDT.
Shadwell Stable’s Taqarub could be set up to take his first graded stakes, as he cuts back to a distance at which he is a perfect 3-for-3. The son of Aldebaran notched those three wins to begin his career, including a dominating 8 1/4-length score in the Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 19 at Aqueduct in his sophomore debut.
The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was no match for Quality Road when tiring badly to finish ninth in the one-mile Fountain of Youth (gr. II) Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park, but rebounded with a solid runner-up in the Bay Shore (gr. III) on April 4 in New York.
Bred in Kentucky by Hank Snowden, Lynn Snowden, and John Phillips, Taqarub is out of the Honor Grades mare Honor Bestowed. He was a $300,000 yearling. The bay colt, who was installed as the 8-5 favorite, will break from post 1 with Alan Garcia in the irons.
Also with a bright future is Starlight Partners’ Checklist, who won two of his first three starts for Todd Pletcher, including a 6 1/2-furlong allowance sprint in the slop at Gulfstream March 21. The Gone West colt came back April 25 to take third in the Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill Downs after setting the early pace. Edgar Prado will get the mount on Checklist, who was bred in Kentucky by B. Wayne Hughes.
Roland Reeley’s Yano won consecutive starts at Laurel Park for trainer Valora Testerman before finishing third in the Bay Shore. The gelded son of Yonaguska has never been off the board in four starts. Harry Vega will have the call.
Also in with a good chance are Despite the Odds and Everyday Heroes, both undefeated in their young careers. Michael Trombetta trainee Despite the Odds broke his maiden by more than 10 lengths at Laurel Park before taking an optional claimer over the same course April 4. Everyday Heroes, trained by Tim Ritchey, has triumphed in all three starts, each of them at Oaklawn Park.
Trombetta will also saddle Not for Silver, a winner of three of five starts who was fifth in the Bay Shore.
Also on the May 16 Pimlico card is the $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III), a six-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up. A field of eight was entered.
Drawing early favoritism was The Jim Stable’s Ah Day (5-2), winner of the March 7 Toboggan (gr. III) where he rallied from well back to get up by a head for trainer King Leatherbury. The 6-year-old Malibu Moon gelding has been off the board in two starts since then. A winner of 11 of 26 career starts, Ah Day will get Garrett Gomez for the first time.
The 3-1 second choice is Lindy Redding’s Ravalo, a 5-year-old gelding with seven stakes victories in his solid career. The son of Mutakddim has raced twice in 2009, most recently taking fourth in the Commonwealth (gr. II) April 11 at Keeneland. John Velazquez will ride for Donald Barr.
The only 4-year-olds in the race are D. Wayne Lukas trainee Silver Edition and Stronach Stables’ locally-based Torpedo Run, who has won three races in a row – all at Laurel Park – and will be making his stakes debut. Silver Edition has produced a 4-5-2 record from 21 starts. Three of the wins have come at six furlongs.