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Still Having Fun Shortens Up for $200,000 ClearSpan Chick Lang
$100,000 LARC Sir Barton Attracts Balanced Field of 11
Among Eight Stakes, Four Graded, Worth $2.55 Million on Preakness Day
BALTIMORE – Before Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Justify and runner-up Good Magic have their rematch against six others in the 143rd running of the $1.5 million Preakness (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, 3-year-olds will be also be in the spotlight in a pair of supporting stakes Saturday at legendary Pimlico Race Course.
The ninth running of the $200,000 ClearSpan Chick Lang at six furlongs and the 21st running of the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton to benefit Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at 1 1/16 miles are among eight stakes, four graded, worth $2.55 million on the 14-race program. First race post time is 10:30 a.m.
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing’s Still Having Fun, already a two-time stakes winner in Maryland, returns to sprinting in the Chick Lang after back-to-back off-the-board finishes in his last two races, both around two turns.
Still Having Fun opened his sophomore campaign with wins in the seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. Jan. 27 and one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 17, but stumbled at the start and got pinched on the first turn of the Private Terms March 17 and wound up fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths.
Trainer Tim Keefe opted to give Still Having Fun another shot around two turns in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio, where he raced in contention along the inside for a half-mile but faded to be sixth behind Preakness contender Diamond King.
“He came out of it fine. I think he proved to us there that he’s probably not a two-turn, mile-and-an-eighth, mile-and-a-sixteenth kind of horse. So we shortened him back up,” Keefe said. “I think that’s probably what he prefers to the longer distances so we thought we’d give it a try on Preakness Day.
“Pimlico is a little bit different kind of track. Sometimes it can be a speed-favoring track just going three-quarters, but he’s got a lot of natural speed,” he added. “I think that kick at the end that he’s shown us when we were sprinting them he just didn’t have going the two turns but we’re excited about him. He’s doing great and I’m looking forward to trying him up there. He’s coming into the race very, very well.”
Jacks or Better Farm homebred Old Time Revival, second by a neck to Still Having Fun in the Miracle Wood, steps back into stakes company for the Chick Lang. The Brethren colt found himself briefly on the Triple Crown trail after finishing second while setting the pace in the one-mile Gotham (G3) March 10 at Aqueduct, but couldn’t duplicate that effort four weeks later in the Wood Memorial (G2) tiring to be eighth of nine.
Trainer Ken Decker brought Old Time Revival back in an open six-furlong entry-level allowance April 27 at Laurel, where he again showed early foot to lead through four furlongs but gave way late and wound up third as the favorite.
“He ran a good race and come out of it good. We decided we’d sprint him in the Chick Lang and we’ve been pointing there,” Decker said. “We might go back to some distance later on but right now he kind of looks like he wants to be a sprinter so we’re going to give it a try.
“I don’t really think that distance is a limitation to him. He just kind of right now kind of wants to sprint,” he added. “We may need a little more maturity before we stretch him back out. We’re going to take what’s in front of us right now and he’s doing well. Hopefully we get a good trip Saturday.”
Another multiple stakes winner in the field is GoldMark Farm’s homebred Soutache, who capped his juvenile season with successive wins in the seven-furlong Affirmed and 1 1/16-mile In Reality divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Ralph Nicks, Soutache has raced one this year, finishing second in the six-furlong Hutcheson (G3) March 24 at Gulfstream.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who will send out Tenfold in the Preakness, has two for the Chick Lang – L. William and Corinne Helligbrodt’s Mitole, winner of the Bachelor Stakes April 12 at Oaklawn Park, and Scott Dilworth and Norma McKathan’s Pure Shot, exiting an off-the-board finish in five-furlong turf stakes April 28 at Churchill Downs.
Kaleem Shah’s Run Away will be making his 3-year-old debut in the Chick Lang after winning four of six starts in California as a 2-year-old for trainer Simon Callaghan. Run Away won his first three starts including the 6 ½-furlong Best Pal (G2) and was third in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) behind Bolt d’Oro.
Also entered are Aqua Bel Sar, Clouded Judgement and Curly’s Rocket.
The Chick Lang is named for the Baltimore native and racing industry legend who served as a trainer, jockey’s agent and racing official as well as director of racing and vice president and general manager of Pimlico, retiring in 1987. He continued to promote racing until his death in 2010 at age 83.
$100,000 LARC Sir Barton Attracts Balanced Field of 11
A group of 11 sophomores, including stakes winners Prince Lucky and Whirlin Curlin and graded-stakes placed Dream Baby Dream and Pony Up, will go to the gate in a competitive edition of the $100,000 Sir Barton.
Calumet Farm’s Pony Up and Daniel McConnell’s Prince Lucky are trained by Todd Pletcher, who briefly put Pony Up under Preakness consideration before opting for the Sir Barton. He enters the race off a respectable third in the Lexington (G3) April 18 at Keeneland.
“After discussing it with the Calumet folks we decided the Sir Barton was a better fit,” said Pletcher. “With the restrictions on the race he fits the conditions nicely. We are hoping to use it as a springboard to the Belmont Stakes [G1].”
A son of Aikenite out of the A. P. Indy mare A. P. Petal, Pony Up had one victory and two seconds in three 2017 starts and finished second in the Kitten’s Joy on turf in his first race as a 3-year-old. Fifth in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Pony Up next traveled to Turfway Park, where he was runner-up in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over a synthetic surface.
Prince Lucky, a homebred son of Corinthian, won three of his four starts at 2, including a victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, in which he drew away to win by 2 ¾ lengths. He was seventh in the Lacomte (G3) at the Fair Grounds as a new gelding, and in his first start for Pletcher improved his position to finish ninth in the Sunland Derby (G3) after being fractious in the gate.
Based at Laurel Park with trainer Gary Capuano, Marathon Farms homebred Whirlin Curlin is looking to snap a three-race losing streak in the Sir Barton. He won the Christopher Elser Memorial Stakes and Maryland Juvenile Futurity and was fifth to Diamond King in the Heft Stakes to cap his 2-year-old season. He was sixth this year in his only starts, the Frank Whiteley and Private Terms.
Dream Baby Dream, trained by Steve Asmussen, came with a strong late run to be a decisive second in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby, his graded stakes debut. He was unable to match that effort in his subsequent and most recent start, the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn.
Shirley Lojeski’s Forest Fire makes his first start in two months in the Sir Barton for trainer John Servis, who has Preakness contender Diamond King. Forest Fire broke his maiden going seven furlongs at Parx Jan. 15 in his 3-year-old debut and followed with a hard-fought allowance triumph Feb. 16 at Laurel. The Friesan Fire gelding took the lead into the stretch of the Private Terms and held it until being caught late by long shot V. I. P. Code.
“He’s a nice colt. He’s doing pretty good, that colt. The race is coming up a little tougher than I was hoping,” Servis said. “He’s doing very good. He’s been training very well. He had trained very good and acted like he had some talent but we just weren’t real sure exactly how good he was. I was tickled to death with the [last] race. I thought it was a good effort from him and I think he’s gotten better off of that.”
Completing the field are Ax Man, California Night, Navy Commander, Takedown, Threes Over Deuces and Title Ready.
The Sir Barton is named for racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 1919 who, within a span of 32 days, won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Withers and Belmont Stakes.