Trainer Nick Zito shoots for an unprecedented third win in the reinstated $500,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) when he saddles Wanderin Boy for the 40th running at Pimlico Race Course Friday.No trainer has won more than two editions of the race since it was brought back in 1987 after a 28-year hiatus.Zito's two previous winners of the Special were graduates of the Triple Crown wars – Strike the Gold in 1992 and Star Standard four years later. Wanderin Boy, one of six entered Sunday for the 1 3/16-mile handicap, comes to this year's Special in a much more circuitous manner.The 5-year-old son of Seeking the Gold, owned by Arthur Hancock III, has had only nine career starts due to various injuries during his career. Unraced at 2, Wanderin Boy seems to have conquered his frailty this season after open-length victories in an allowance race and the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths over Alumni Hall most recently.Zito said Wanderin Boy turned in a strong :59 3/5 drill for five furlongs at Saratoga Sunday. "He had a good winter and a great spring. He won the Ben Ali impressively. I think he's a horse with a big upside, as far as talent goes. Hopefully, he'll have a big chance in that race."Wanderin Boy will carry high weight of 117 pounds, including jockey Javier Castellano, conceding between one and five pounds to his five rivals. Invasor, the Uruguayan champion, and Harlington, trained by Todd Pletcher, will both carry 116 pounds, one more than the Pletcher-trained West Virginia and five pounds more than Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner, and We Can Seek.Funny Cide, who scored by just under 10 lengths in the Preakness, will also be entered Wednesday for the William Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) on Saturday's Preakness undercard.
"I put him in (the Special) today, but I'd like to run him in the William Schaefer the next day. It's a little easier spot. I think it's the proper spot," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "He needs a couple of easier races. It's taken us a couple of years to get him over his back problems, so he needs a couple of easier races."The Pimlico Special anchors Friday's card of five stakes races worth approximately $1.4 million. The Special and the $250,000 Woodford Reserve Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) will be televised by ESPN (5-6 p.m.). $500,000 Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I, Race 12, 5:43 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 3/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Funny Cide (NY), 113, Richard Migliore
2. West Virginia (NY), 115, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
3. Wanderin Boy (KY), 117, Javier Castellano
4. Invasor (ARG), 116, Ramon A. Dominguez
5. We Can Seek (CHI), 112, Rafael Bejarano
6. Harlington (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez