Pimlico grass greener for Mr. O'Brien in Dixie

Two-length triumph sets track record for 1 1/8 miles

Preakness Stakes

May 16, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Mr. O'Brien has a deep affection for the Pimlico turf course, and he showed it again yesterday with a convincing victory in the Grade II, $200,000 Argent Dixie Stakes that headlined the Preakness undercard.

Trained locally by Robin Graham at Laurel Park, Mr. O'Brien blazed through 1 1/8 miles in the record time of 1 minute, 46.34 seconds while beating Millennium Dragon by two lengths.

It was a most impressive performance by a gelding who had never raced in a graded stakes.

The previous nine-furlong track record was 1:47.04 by Doubled Booked in 1991.

Mr. O'Brien was coming off a nine-length romp May 1 over one mile on the Pimlico turf.

"We figured there was plenty of speed in the race," Graham said. "I told the jockey [Ramon Dominguez] to just let him be wherever he wanted to be early. He relaxed the horse and just waited until the time was right, and the move was timed perfectly."

Dominguez - in his third victory on the card - said he wanted the horse to relax and that he had to wait for a little traffic.

"I was a little surprised we didn't have more company in the stretch. I won this race last year [with Dr. Brendler]. This probably would have been Rick Wilson's mount. I'm happy I could pick up where Rick left off. We're all thinking about him."

Wilson is recovering at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after a nasty spill last Saturday with his condition listed as serious.

Richard Migliore, who rode Millennium Dragon, said he had to wait for running room until it was too late.

"I wish we'd have had a clean run because we'd have been very tough to beat," he said.

In other races

Abbondanza took to the rail coming through the lane and prevailed by a head over Bwana Charlie in the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes for 3-year-olds. Favored Teton Forest was fourth.

"There wasn't much room when we made our move," said Dominguez, the winning jockey.

Laurel-based trainer Tim Tullock saddles Abbondanza.

A furious late rush by Film Maker was a half-length short as favored Ocean Drive prevailed in the Grade III, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap on the grass.

With Jerry Bailey aboard, the winning time of 1:40.85 was 0.32 of a second shy of the track record.

A perfect trip resulted in an easy victory for Artie Schiller in the $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. The winning margin was 3 3/4 lengths.

Migliore scored his second consecutive win in the Grade III, $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap aboard Argentine-bred Seattle Fitz. Pacesetter The Lady's Groom couldn't resist the winner and finished second by 1 1/2 lengths.

Local star Gators N Bears, trained and owned by Leo Nechamkin, spurted up the rail drew off to a 1 1/4 -length triumph in the Grade III, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap.

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