Cognac Kisses was second in the Allen's Prospect Stakes at Pimlico April 19.

Cognac Kisses was second in the Allen's Prospect Stakes at Pimlico April 19.

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Wide-Open MD Sprint Handicap Draws Seven

Suave Jazz is the most accomplished, but is coming off a lengthy layoff.

Seven older sprinters will try to earn their first graded stakes score May 17 at Pimlico Race Course when they do battle in the $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) – the first of 10 blacktype races on Preakness Stakes (gr. I) day.

The Sprint Handicap will be contested at six furlongs on the main track.

Michael Dubb’s Suave Jazz enters with an impressive résumé, the 5-year-old gelding having won his last two and finished in the money every race since August, 2006 – a span that covers 14 events. A son of Suave Prospect--Cavite Starlet, by Jazzing Around, he has produced an 11-8-3 record from 28 starts. All but two of those wins have come since trainer Tony Dutrow claimed him for Dubb in March, 2006.

Bred in Florida by Farnsworth Farms, Suave Jazz has done most of his damage in allowance company at Aqueduct, Belmont and Delaware Park, but he also has a victory in his only start at Pimlico, that coming last May at six furlongs. His lone effort in graded stakes competition was a very good one, as he finished second by 1 ¾ lengths in the True North Handicap (gr. II) last June at Belmont.

The major concern for Suave Jazz is whether or not he will respond to a lengthy layoff. The bay gelding has not raced since Nov. 3 when he took the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Stakes by a head at Delaware. Ramon Dominguez will get the return call on the 9-5 morning-line favorite and break from post three.

Ben Mondello and Adam Russo’s Cognac Kisses has been in good form since beginning his 5-year-old campaign. The Dixie Union horse has accumulated a 1-3-1 mark from five starts this year. Included in those starts was his most recent effort, a runner-up finish in the April 19 Allen’s Prospect Stakes at Pimlico.

Cognac Kisses (5-2) has also improved since being claimed for $75,000 last October by trainer Scott Lake. The Maryland-bred has been in the money in all but one of his seven starts since that time. Jeremy Rose will get the mount.

Looking to make a successful step up in class will be Vincent Arcieri Jr.’s The Vin Man. The son of Louis Quatorzehas won three in a row – all in the allowance company – and has really seemed to turn a corner since beginning his 4-year-old season. Winless in six starts as a sophomore, The Vin Man broke his maiden Jan. 23 at Laurel, and has won three of four since then. This will be his first try in stakes competition.

Celtic Innis is the only starter who contested the Sprint Handicap last year. The 5-year-old Yarrow Brae gelding was fifth in the 2007 edition.

$100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III, Race 3, 11:28 a.m.), 3 & Up, Six Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Celtic Innis,114, John R. Velazquez
2. Unbridled Behavior, 114, Erick D. Rodriguez
3. Suave Jazz, 115, Ramon A. Dominguez
4. Starforaday, 111, Edgar S. Prado
5. Forest Park, 114, Rafael Bejarano
6. The Vin Man,111, Julian Pimentel
7. Cognac Kisses, 113, Jeremy Rose