A tough shipper arrived from Kentucky to try him. Dr. Max was in the field off an impressive win in a graded stakes on Preakness Day. Holiday Music had won two in a row.
None of that mattered to red-hot Just Carl Me Carl, who proved his sprinting mettle again by scoring a 2 1/4 -length victory in the $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes yesterday at Pimlico.
It was the third straight stakes triumph for Just Call Me Carl, whose winnings are donated by owner Steven Newby to Project Excellence, which awards college scholarships to minority youth.
The bettors made the invader, Abajo, a 6-to-5 favorite in the seven-horse lineup, and the colt by Robyn Dancer set quick early fractions with Just Call Me Carl in hot pursuit on the outside.
Jockey Travis Dunkelberger steered Just Call Me Carl to the front as they straightened into the lane and then pulled away. Abajo couldn't hold off Holiday Music for the place.
"This is definitely one of the fastest horses I have ever ridden," said Dunkelberger, who had three wins on the card. "He's a little horse, but he has a big-horse move on that turn. I had plenty all the way down the backside, and I was fully confident that when I asked him he would respond."
Dunkelberger said he has yet to use the whip on the gelding, who is 8-for-14 lifetime and has earned more than $251,000. He has ridden him four times after Edgar Prado moved his tack to New York.
Just Call Me Carl covered six furlongs in 1 minute, 10 seconds over a fast track and stamped himself as a contender for the J. Frank de Francis Dash next month at Laurel.
"This horse has been great to us this year. When we donated him to charity, he was only a yearling," said Newby. "We never in our wildest dreams thought this horse would earn all this money."
Trainer Dale Capuano was concerned most about Dr. Max, who never represented a challenge in the race.
"I know Abajo was shipping up from Kentucky, and sometimes a long trip in this kind of weather can dull a horse just enough for them not to perform their best. When I saw Carl come up beside him, I was confident he had another victory," said Capuano.
NOTES: On a sultry afternoon, Pimlico played to a crowd of 7,416, which was treated to free grandstand admission and a free live program on Fan Appreciation Day. Overall, attendance in Maryland, including those at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway, was 14,436 with the Belmont Stakes as the primary attraction. ... Laurel Park's summer meeting will open June 21 and will continue through Aug. 25 before Timonium Race Course launches its annual state fair meeting. The first-race post at Laurel will be 1:30 p.m. except on Fridays, when the start is 4 p.m.