Mr. O'Brien Wins Dixie in Course-Record Time

Irish-bred Mr. O'Brien scored a two-length win in the May 15 $200,000 Argent Dixie (gr. IIT) on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard at Pimlico Race Course. His time of 1:46.34 was a course record, breaking the previous record of 1:47 set in 1991 by Double Booked.

Millennium Dragon was second, with Warleigh a head back for third.

Robin Graham conditions Mr. O'Brien for the partnership of Skeedattle II. Jack Ronan and Des Vere Hunt Farm bred the son of Mukaddamah in Ireland.

The winner, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, returned $24.80, $12.60, and $7.40. Millennium Dragon paid $8.20 and $5.80. Warleigh returned $6. The exacta paid $201.80 with the trifecta paying $1,334.60.

The win for Mr. O'Brien followed a nine-length score in the May 4 Henry Clark Stakes also at Pimlico. Mr. O'Brien notched his first graded stakes win and seventh triumph from from 16 starts overall. First-place money of $120,000 pushed his career total to $310,290.

"We figured there was plenty of speed in the race," Graham said. "I told the jockey to just let him be wherever he wanted to be early. He relaxed the horse and just waited until the time was right, and the move was timed perfectly. This horse will go whenever you ask him."

Breaking from gate one, Wudantunoit took the early lead and was soon challenged by Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando as the field of 11 rounded the first turn. Wudantunoit took the field though early fractions of :23.89 and :46.80 for the half, with the group clocking three-quarters of a mile in 1:10.03. As the field approached the final turn, Mr. O'Brien made a sweeping move to take the lead, kicking away at the sixteenth pole and holding on for a driving win.

"I had to wait a little for some traffic on the turn," Dominguez said. "After that, he responded very well. He was willing to do anything I asked him to do. I was a little surprised we didn't have more company in the stretch."

"This probably would have been Rick Wilson's mount," he said of the injured jockey who was hospitalized last week following a disastrous fall. "I'm happy I could pick up where Rick left off. We're all thinking about him."

Millennium Dragon was put to the drive by Richard Migliore near the quarter pole, but was brushed and forced inside by Wando in upper stretch. Lacking room through most of the lane, he finished up well along the inside once clear. He edged Warleigh by a head.

"I couldn't find a seam at the head of the lane," Migliore said. "I got a good ground-staving trip stalking the pace, but then I had to wait for room. I had horse, I had run, I had no room. When the rail opened up, we came kicking through to be second, but the race was over by then. I wish we'd have had a clean run because we'd have been very tough to beat."

Megantic was fourth, a neck behind Warleigh and the same distance ahead of Senor Swinger in fifth. Wudantunoit, Wando, Silver Tree, Better Talk Now, Herculated and My Lord rounded out the order of finish.

Herculated, the slight 7-2 favorite over Wando in the 11-horse field, lost ground while racing wide for Frank Lovato Jr.,and came up empty when urged for more on the final turn.

(Chart, Equibase)