Preakness Meet Title First at Pimlico for Journeyman Toledo

Preakness Meet Title First at Pimlico for Journeyman Toledo

Russell, Sillaman Tied Atop Trainer Standings into Monday Finale
Eight-Race Memorial Day Holiday Program Starts at 12:40 P.M.

BALTIMORE – By the time the high-profile Preakness Meet wraps up with Monday’s special Memorial Day holiday program at historic Pimlico Race Course, there will be significant firsts in both the jockey and trainer standings.

Jevian Toledo will own his ninth career riding title in Maryland but first at Pimlico after eight at Laurel Park. The 27-year-old native of Puerto Rico goes into the finale of the 12-day Preakness Meet with 15 wins, followed by Victor Carrasco with nine. Carrasco won twice Sunday aboard Friar Tuck ($15.20) in Race 6 and By the Sey Shore ($8.80) in Race 7.

Toledo, represented by agent Marty Leonard, has two mounts scheduled for Monday while Carrasco is named in three of eight races.

“I’m feeling good, really good. It means a lot, to be honest. We have a really good colony of jockeys over here, pretty strong, and it feels amazing,” Toledo said. “I’ve never won the Pimlico meet before in my life, so the first one is pretty special. It’s a special place. Everybody looks at the races at Pimlico every day, especially the Preakness, and it’s really special to win the meet.”

Toledo registered five multi-win days during Preakness Meet, with hat tricks on opening day, May 12, and Black-Eyed Susan Day, May 20. He kicked off the meet by winning on each of his first five mounts, and also won four in a row May 26-27.

Maryland’s overall leading rider in 2015, 2017 and 2021, Toledo won Laurel’s 2022 winter meet title before finishing second by one win to 18-year-old apprentice Jeiron Barbosa at its spring stand that preceded Pimlico.

“I have to thank every single trainer and owner for the opportunity, and all the staff. Without the grooms, as a rider it’s impossible. I have to thank everybody involved, especially the horses. They’re the ones running. We just try to put them in the right spot and get them to the wire first.”

Brittany Russell and Richard Sillaman are tied atop the trainer standings with seven wins apiece. Russell has horses entered in two races Monday, while Sillaman had none in over the final two racing days.

Mike Trombetta is next with five wins following By the Sey Shore’s victory, but has just one starter Monday.

Even without a win Monday, a tie makes Russell, 32, the first female to win more than one meet title in Maryland. She earned her first championship at Laurel’s 2022 spring stand to join Karen Patty (1992 Pimlico spring), Mary Eppler (2016 Laurel fall) and Linda Rice (T-1st, 2017 Laurel winter) as other women to be meet-leading trainers.

“That’s amazing. I never would have thought that,” Russell said. “Again, I don’t think of it in those terms but it’s pretty cool to do it. At the end of the day this is a tough game and it’s hard to win races, period, so to be the leading trainer is a big deal no matter what.”

Russell notched two-win days May 13, 20 and 27, with all seven of her wins coming with Toledo aboard. With strings at both Pimlico and Laurel, she also won five races at three different tracks May 26 and 27 – Pimlico, Delaware Park and Charles Town.

“It’s awesome. It feels pretty good,” Russell said. “It sort of feels like we’ve been able to keep the momentum going. We have a lot of horses that we’re just getting right and getting in the entries, so I feel like we could have a really good summer ahead of us.

“The goal is to just keep winning races and to keep the horses and the clients happy,” she added. “To have another title, it’s nice for the whole team. The hard work they put in shows up and pays off. It’s a big deal.”

For Sillaman, 61, it would mark the first training title in a career spent with horses. The Anne Arundel County native followed in the footsteps of his father, Robert, who also trained horses in Maryland.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Sillaman said. “I was an assistant trainer for Jerry Robb on and off for a long time, back in the 80s and 90s when he had Little Bold John. I was his groom for five years and won 27 stakes rubbing him. He was one of a kind.”

Sillaman has seven wins and one second from 11 starters at the meet. Six of his wins have come from eight starters for Herman Braude, making Braude the leading owner.

“It’s been phenomenal. We’ve been lucky enough that the races went and I got the right kind of horses for the condition book, I guess,” Sillaman said. “They’re all claimers, and they’re just doing well. Most of them I got down in Tampa and they’ve just transitioned great up here.”

According to Equibase statistics, Sillaman is a multiple stakes-winning trainer with 279 career victories since his first in 1983. He had two wins May 13 and 27, and has won two races apiece during the meet with 4-year-old geldings Ghost Stalker and Jimmy the Kid.

“I was on my own a couple times, but things are just clicking now. I’ve got some really good clients and great help. My help’s been with me for six years, they’re just phenomenal,” he said. “The last couple years have been really good, percentage-wise. I’ve always had between 12 and 16 horses and now it’s up to 20 with a few more coming in. I’m enjoying it. My wife just retired a couple months ago and we’re just enjoying it.”

Without a starter Monday, Sillaman will be watching closely. Russell has the narrow 3-1 program favorite, 13-time career winner Stroll Smokin, in Race 4, a starter-optional claimer scheduled for five furlongs on the grass. She also has Reassured, rated at 6-1 on the morning line, in Race 6, a 1 1/16-mile starter-optional claimer also carded for the turf.

“It’s exciting. I’m low-key, though. I don’t get too excited because I know it can turn on you in a heartbeat and you can go 0-for-30 before you know it and nobody’s talking to you and nobody’s looking at you,” Sillaman said. “It’s exciting now, though. I’m enjoying it. I’ve got a lot of people rooting for me, lots of friends and family, really pulling for me.”

Russell claimed Stroll Smokin on behalf of Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group for $16,000 in February at Laurel, and the 7-year-old gelding has won both times for his new connections including a May 8 victory that helped the trainer clinch her first title on Mother’s Day.

“He’s so cool. I really have to thank Stuart for claiming that horse,” Russell said. “We love that horse more than anything. He won a race on closing day that helped us win the last title; if he ends up winning on closing day to help us win it again he’s never, ever leaving my barn.”

Notes: Five-pound apprentice Marshall Mendez bookended Sunday’s card by winning Race 1 with Carolina Sun ($19.60) and Race 8 aboard Baffle ‘Em ($11) … There will be mandatory payouts Monday in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi-5 wagers. Post time is 12:40 p.m. … Live racing moves to Laurel Park for its summer meet starting Friday, June 3 through Sunday, Aug. 21.