Exotic West Seeks Graded Success in $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3)

Exotic West Seeks Graded Success in $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3)

Among Six Stakes, Four Graded, Worth $1.05 Million in Purses May 20

BALTIMORE – Well-traveled Exotic West, who has found success going two turns on dirt, will make her graded-stakes debut at historic Pimlico Race Course in Friday’s $150,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3).

Exotic West drew the rail in the field of six for the 29th running of the 1 1/8-mile du Pont for fillies and mares 3 and up. It is one of six stakes, four graded, worth $1.05 million in purses during a spectacular 14-race card on the eve of the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1). The headliner of the Friday program is the 98th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies.

Other graded stakes on the program are the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs, and the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for three-year-olds and up at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles. Rounding out the stakes action are a pair of turf events, the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, and $100,000 The Very One, a five-furlong dash for females 3 and older.

First race post time is 11:30 a.m.

New York training stalwart Gary Sciacca was pleased with the post position in a race that figures to have plenty of pace.

“I’m happy with that,” he said. “I wanted to be in the one or two with the speed in there and that’s where we are.”

Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano will ride the daughter of Hard Spun, who has a 3-2-1 record in eight starts since Sciacca, 62, and owner Louis Lazzinnaro claimed her for $40,000 last summer at Saratoga.

Just to her outside is Augustin Stable’s homebred Into Vanishing, who has been second in all three starts this season. Mi Patria Racing’s Click to Confirm, a Maryland-bred who has made of her 12 career starts at Laurel Park, drew Post 3. Mary Lou Whitney Stables’ homebred Super Quick will start from Post 4, to the inside of speedy Lil Kings Princess and Godophin’s homebred Frost Point, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

Exotic West began her career in late 2020 with trainer Bob Baffert, and breeders-owners Gary and Mary West moved her to Wayne Catalano who had her focused on dirt sprints in the Midwest last year. Trainer Ray Handal claimed her for $50,000 at Churchill Downs in June and when Handal ran her back for a tag two months later, Sciacca claimed her for Lazzinnaro, who owns the Nove restaurant in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“She’s a big, good-looking filly,” Sciacca said. “Louis picked her out and said, ‘What do you think of her? I went over and looked at her and she just looked fantastic. She said, ‘Let’s take a shot and take her.’”

Sciacca claimed her out of victory in a race that was rained off the turf. He started her four more times on the turf and she turned in competitive performances but was winless. When the turf season ended in New York in December, Sciacca moved her to the dirt and she has flourished, winning three of four starts. Her lone loss was in the Ladies on Jan. 16 when she stumbled and unseated jockey Dylan Davis.

“She’s doing well. She loves the two turns,” Sciacca said. “That was a great two-turn race for there, so we’ve going to take out best shot.”

Exotic West added to her resume on April 10 at Aqueduct with a three-quarter length victory in the Top Flight Invitational.

“In her last race, she really put it all together,” Sciacca said.

Sciacca began training in 1981 and earned his 1,000th career victory in November. He said there was no simple explanation to why Exotic West has improved in his care.

“Sometimes horses get good,” he said. “You just hope they peak at the right time.”

Frost Point, a daughter of Frosted, has been a consistent performer for Mott, who won the race in 1998 with Ajina. Shas been on the board in six of seven starts and was third in the Top Flight.

Two starts back, Into Vanishing chased champion Letruska and finished second in the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Super Quick, trained by Norm Casse, has shown plenty of speed during her 10-race career. In her last start she finished in a dead heat for third in the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland.

Click to Confirm will face older horses for the first time in the du Pont. She ran third to five-time consecutive stakes winner Luna Belle in the April 16 Weber City Miss at Laurel two starts back; Luna Belle will be one of the favorites for the Black-Eyed Susan, to which Click to Confirm was also nominated.

“It’s going to be a smaller field and maybe a softer field, as well, so we’ll see. The [Black-Eyed Susan] is going to be tough so we’ll take a shot,” trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon said. “She’s doing very well. I’m very happy with the filly. She is doing awesome right now, knock on wood.”