In the race immediately preceding the Preakness (gr. I) at Pimlico Saturday, eight older horses will contest the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) over nine furlongs.
Breaking from the outside post will be highweight and likely favorite Alumni Hall. The 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy
is fresh off a victory in the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland last month, his second win at that meeting this year. Alumni Hall is a consistent type at this level, and has won seven of his 15 lifetime races, good for earnings of $386,571.
The biggest earner in the field is Zakocity, a veteran of 26 starts who has bankrolled better than $585,000. Zakocity hasn't visited the winner's circle since his lone stakes score, last October in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. He comes in off a third in the Skip Away Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream to Eurosilver, and has hit the board in all three of his races this year. He has four victories to his credit along with five seconds and seven thirds.
Royal Assault has a touch of back class, and took the Sir Barton on this card a year ago as a 3-year-old. He was also the forgotten horse who finished third behind Birdstone and Smarty Jones in last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He ended a drought with an allowance tally at Keeneland last month for trainer Nick Zito.
Contante is a group I winner in his native Argentina and managed an allowance victory at Aqueduct last month, but was soundly defeated in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) previous to that. He managed a third in the Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III) in January.
Local runner Ouagadougou has multiple wins over the surface but is being asked to step up in class here. He took an allowance race last month at Laurel after a second to Lusty Latin in the Harrison Johnson Handicap there in March. He has six wins in 27 starts. Seven Talents has proven a useful allowance runner on the Maryland circuit, and has three wins and three seconds this year from six starts. He, too, must prove he can handle the step-up in class.
The field for the Schaefer in post position order with jockeys and weights:
1) Ouagadougou (Steve Hamilton, 114)
2) Clays Awesome (Edgar Prado, 113)
3) Go Now (Gary Stevens, 112)
4) Seven Talents (Eric Camacho, 113)
5) Royal Assault (Rafael Bejarano, 112)
6) Contante (Jose Santos, 114)
7) Zakocity (Jerry Bailey, 117)
8) Alumni Hall (Robby Albarado, 119)