Apple Picker Impresses in $100,000 Weather Vane
Intrepid Daydream Sparkles in $75,000 Shine Again
BALTIMORE – James Wolf’s Dollarization sat off dueling Grade 3 winners Jaxon Traveler and Wondrwherecraigis and came with a powerful run through the stretch to spring a three-length upset at odds of 18-1 in Saturday’s $100,000 Lite the Fuse at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The eighth running of the Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up was the last of three six-furlong dirt stakes sprints on an 11-race program headlined by the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3), following the $100,000 Weather Vane for 3-year-old fillies and $75,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and up which had not won an open sweepstakes.
Based at Penn National with trainer Tim Kreiser, Dollarization ($39.60) had run second in each of his last three starts including a 6 ½-furlong allowance Aug. 27 at Timonium where he broke poorly and wound up beaten 1 ¾ lengths as the favorite by Al Loves Josie. Al Loves Josie came back to be second in the Sept. 10 Challedon at Pimlico, a race in which Dollarization was withdrawn.
“I scratched last time out of the one hole,” Kreiser said. “So I said, ‘Well I guess we go in the stake.’ We drew the one [again] and I had no other choice [but to run] because I’ve got a stake in Pennsylvania for him next month, so it would set us up for that race.
“It shows he belongs,” he added. “Everybody was like, ‘Why are you in that race?’ The horse tries. He didn’t get a good start at Timonium last time, and you know how that track is. You just can’t [overcome it]. You go out and horses are saving ground on the inside. He tries every time. No complaints. Hopefully, he moves forward and we can keep doing this kind of stuff.”
Jaxon Traveler, winner of the 2022 Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico, broke sharply and went to the front, going the opening quarter-mile in 23.66 seconds with 2021 Bold Ruler (G3) winner Wondrwherecraigis pressing to his outside. Jockey Angel Rodriguez settled Dollarization in third along the rail, flanked by 11-time career winner Stage Left.
The two leaders continued to battle up front, straightening for home together after a half went in 46.72 seconds. Rodriguez maintained his position before tipping out to the middle of the track for a stretch run that saw him reel in two horses that have combined for 14 wins, eight in stakes, and more than $1.1 million in purse earnings. The winning time was 1:11.32 over a fast main track.
“We were hoping that something would transpire up front there, it was about our only shot. It did, and he took advantage of it,” Kreiser said. “He got a ground-saving trip and kind of a perfect trip out of the one-hole, really. It was a lot of fun to watch.”
Sir Alfred James made a late run to be second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Stage Left, It was another head back to Wondrwherecraigis in fourth, with Jaxon Traveler – first or second in five previous tries at Pimlico – checking in fifth. Cowan, Little Roo Roo and Scaramouche were scratched.
It was the second career stakes win for Dollarization following the six-furlong Fabulous Strike last August at Penn National. He was claimed for $16,000 out of a win there the previous October.
“He’s actually pretty good. When I claimed him he was very nervous,” Kreiser said. “He’s changed a lot. He’s matured, obviously, and he loves sprinting. They were running him long all the time when I claimed him. We turned him back and he just seems to be a much better sprinter.”
Wondrwherecraigis went off as the 1-2 favorite in the Lite the Fuse, his first race since finishing second for a third consecutive year in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. Prior to that effort he ran sixth in the Maryland Sprint May 20 at Pimlico.
“Craig’s good. He’s all good,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “Maybe [he doesn’t like the track]. He ran some good races on it earlier. Maybe we just keep him at Laurel. He likes Laurel. That was a bummer.”
The Lite the Fuse honors the millionaire bred, owned and trained by the late Maryland-based Richard Dutrow Sr. that is the only two-time winner of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, in 1995-96, when it was a Grade 2 race. Lite the Fuse also won the Carter Handicap (G1) those same years as well as the 1995 Tom Fool (G2) and 1996 Bold Ruler (G3) and placed in 10 other graded-stakes, including runner-up finishes in the 1995 and 1996 Met Mile (G1).
Apple Picker Impresses in $100,000 Weather Vane
Michael Dubb’s Apple Picker made her return to the main track a winning one with an impressive victory in the $100,000 Weather Vane.
Trained by Brittany Russell and ridden by Sheldon Russell, Apple Picker covered six furlongs in 1:12.11 for her third victory in eight starts. The 3-year-old daughter of Connect had won in May at Delaware on the main track but then finished off the board on the turf at Laurel in the summer in the Stormy Blues and Searching.
Racing for the first time at Pimlico, Russell settled Apple Picker off the pace down the backstretch while Talk to the Judge, Ms. Bucchero and Late Frost all went to the front past fractions of :23.47 and :46.76. But Russell and Apple Picker drove past Late Frost at the eighth pole before cruising home to victory.
“Looking back, we got such a good set up,” Sheldon Russell said. “This is definitely what she wants to do.”
The Weather Vane pays homage to the Maryland-bred mare trained by Richard W. Delp that won 17 races and $724,532 in purses from 1996 to 1998. A former claimer bred by William B. Delp, Weather Vane went on to register 14 stakes victories including the Safely Kept (G3) and Miss Preakness in 1997, the latter before it was graded, and capped her career by being named Maryland-bred champion older female of 1998.
Intrepid Daydream Sparkles in $100,000 Shine Again
Paul Fowler Jr.’s 4-year-old homebred filly Intrepid Daydream carried jockey Jevian Toledo past the pacesetter Beneath the Stars entering the stretch and proved much the best in the $75,000 Shine Again.
A Maryland-bred daughter of Jess’s Dream, Intrepid Daydream covered the six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:12.74, 1 ½ lengths in front of a closing Deco Strong. Moody Woman rallied for the show.
Intrepid Daydream was rated second down the backstretch behind Beneath the Stars, who set an opening quarter in :23.62 and a half in :46:46. But entering the stretch Intrepid Daydream galloped past the pacesetter and opened up quickly on the rest of the field before driving home to victory.
Intrepid Daydream has now won four of 10 starts with four second-place finishes. Third, beaten less than a length in the Caesar’s Wish at Laurel in July, Intrepid Daydream was cutting back in distance after finishing second by a head last time out at seven furlongs at Colonial Downs.
“Days like today are big,” Fowler said.
“It set up good,” said trainer Gary Capuano. “She broke well, and she had a great post, great position. She just kind of followed that horse a little bit and then when it was time to go she just kind of went on by. She kind of waits on horses a little bit at the end so I’m always worried about whether she’s going to hang there, but she’s come a long way.
The Shine Again honors Allaire duPont’s fourth generation Maryland homebred mare that retired in 2003 after winning 14 of 34 starts, seven stakes and nearly $1.3 million in purses. Trained by late Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, she won back-to-back editions of the Ballerina (G1) in 2001 and 2002 and was second in 2003.