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Tango Tango Tango Seeks Graded Success in $150,000 Dinner Party (G2)
Among 10 Stakes, Six Graded, Worth $2.75 Million on Preakness Day Program
BALTIMORE – The question facing Calumet Farm’s Tango Tango Tango in Saturday’s $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) at Pimlico Race Course is whether the 4-year-old colt is ready to win, win, win a graded stakes?
The bay son of Tourist showed ability last year, finishing second in the Bruce D (G1) at Arlington Park. He steps back into graded company in the 121st running of the 1 1/16-mile Dinner Party for 3-year-olds and up on the grass off victories at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. Tango Tango Tango drew the rail in the field of seven that was entered Monday.
The historic Dinner Party is part of a spectacular 14-race program featuring 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses headlined by the 147th renewal of the Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Other graded-stakes on the card are the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds and $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) for 3-year-olds and up, both going six furlongs; $150,000 Gallorette for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles on the grass; and $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for Arabian horses.
First race post time is 10:30 a.m.
Pimlico’s oldest stakes race and the eighth-oldest in the country, the Dinner Party was contested at two miles for its 1870 debut – on opening day of the new Pimlico course – and won by the Hall of Famer Preakness. Long called the Dixie and returned to its original name in 2020, the Dinner Party has been won by 10 other horses that are in the Hall of Fame. That distinguished group includes Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Assault as well as Lure, Fort Marcy and Equipoise. The distance has changed eight times over its history, settling at the current distance in 2014.
Tango Tango Tango is the leading performer from the first crop by Tourist, whose time of 1:31.71 is the stakes record in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Calumet purchased him as a yearling for $35,000 in 2019. He did not race as a 2-year-old and in his fourth career start last year, wearing blinkers for the first time, he broke his maiden with a victory in the American Derby. A month later, he ended up second by 2 ¾ lengths to Point Me By following a troubled trip in the one-mile Bruce D for trainer Jack Sisterson. The blinkers were off for his last-place finish in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational on September 18, but they are back on again this season.
Sisterson said that Tango Tango Tango did not grow much but filled out over the winter.
“A bit of time off after the race at Belmont did him a world of good,” Sisterson said. “We just felt as a 3-year-old, he was a bit on the lighter side. We thought he was going to be a better older horse, so we give him time off and he’s sort of paying us back.”
Tango Tango Tango is 2-for-2 in 2022. He returned six months after his Belmont fade to capture a 7 ½-furlong optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on March 27.
“We can't complain of what he's done so far. Winning off a layoff, we rarely do as a barn,” Sisterson said. “I don't get them 100% fit to win off a layoff. I like them to improve with the run. He obviously overcame that to win at Gulfstream going seven and a half, and a wide trip as well, which I thought was convincing.”
On May 1, Tango Tango Tango was game in a half-length victory going 1 ¼ miles in an optional claimer on turf at Belmont.
“That wasn't the original plan,” Sisterson said. “He didn't get into the two-other-than at Keeneland so I had to scramble for Plan B because he was ready to run again. We sent him up there and, obviously, going from seven and a half to a mile and a quarter was a question mark. He had never won over that distance, but I think Flavien Prat helped us out, as well. He put him in the right spot.
“It was pleasing for me to see his versatility over different distances,” he added. “He's a horse that can be forwardly placed if the pace is slow and get him to relax if the pace is quick up front. He's doing great at the moment.”
Among the veteran turf stakes horses Tango Tango Tango will face in the Dinner Party is English Bee, also owned by Calumet Farm, but who is trained by Graham Motion. The 6-year-old English Channel horse will be making his 27th career start. He won the James W. Murphy for 3-year-olds in 2019 and was seventh, beaten 2 ½ lengths in the Dinner Party last year. In four starts during the winter in Florida, English Bee was third in the Fort Lauderdale (G2), fourth in the Tampa Bay (G3), third in the Canadian Turf (G3) and fifth by two lengths in the Appleton (G3).
Three Diamonds Farm’s Atone has been very competitive in the seven races he has run since being purchased at auction from breeder Godolphin last summer and switched to trainer Mike Maker’s care. The 5-year-old Into Mischief gelding has yet to score in a graded stake.
“He was a good fourth in the Pegasus Turf [G1] and the Maker’s Mark Mile [G1], so hopefully some class relief will be what the doctor ordered,” Maker said. “He shows up every time. No complaints. He’s kept the best company and held his own.”
Atone was beaten 1 ¾ lengths in the Pegasus Turf. Wearing blinkers for the first time, he was in the thick of it in the Maker’s Mark and was a length behind the winner Shirl’s Speight.
“We put the blinkers on because a couple of the jockeys said when they went to hit him or something that he’d lose focus and swap his leads back and forth,” Maker said. “I think he was more worried about the stick than anything. I thought he ran his race [with the blinkers] and did his job.”
Runnymoore Racing’s Beacon Hill will be making his graded debut in the Dinner Party, just his second stakes attempt following a runner-up finish in last fall’s 1 ½-mile Point of Entry, where he was beaten a half-length. He has raced once this year for trainer Michael Matz, closing to be second by a nose to Camp Hope in a 1 1/16-mile third-level allowance April 20 at Keeneland.
Daniel Alonso’s Brazilian-bred Novo Sol won his stateside debut for trainer Saffie Joesph Jr. on Jan. 5 and was third behind Gufo and Abaan in the Pan American (G2) on April 2 at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old is twice Group 1-placed in his native country.
Built Wright Stable’s Nathan Detroit, trained by Norman Cash, will try turf stakes company for the first time. The 4-year-old son of Union Rags won a one-mile turf allowance at Laurel Park on April 29.
Juddmonte’s Set Piece won three of seven starts with two seconds last year for trainer Brad Cox. In his 2022 debut he was seventh, beaten two lengths in the Maker’s Mark.
“He didn’t fare very well last time, probably a little close to the pace at Keeneland,” Cox said. “Hopefully he can rebound. We won the race with Factor This a couple of years back. It will be his second run off a layoff, and he’s trained real well all winter and spring. I’m excited about getting him back. He just wasn’t quite up to the Grade 1 caliber and didn’t have the greatest trip last time. Hopefully he can get back on the winning track.”