BALTIMORE — Snapping a mind-boggling streak of 116 straight losses in graded stakes races, Hall-of-Fame legend D. Wayne Lukas saddled 5-2 favorite Hamazing Destiny to win yesterday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico by 1 1/2 lengths.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Hamazing Destiny chased the heated pace duel between Diski Dance and Immortal Eyes, ranged up to join them turning for home, then opened up down the stretch. Band Box rallied for second.
“He was the favorite and he ran like it,” said Lukas, who had Optimizer in the Preakness. “It’s a good way to start the day.”
AND THEY’RE OFF! Ovour The Top (No. 7,) leads the field down the front stretch in The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, a Grade 1 race for purebred Arabian horses, before yesterday’s 137th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Lukas won the next race with 8-1 Skyring.
Hamazing Destiny, who won for the first time in 11 starts dating back to Sept. 2010, ran the six furlongs in 1:10.48 to pay $7.80. The exacta came back $30.20.
JAMES W. MURPHY STAKES
One race after the drought ended, a streak began.
Lukas’ 3-year-old colt Skyring led wire-to-wire in a turf thriller to win the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes to give the renowned trainer his second straight stakes triumph of the afternoon.
Skyring never had raced on turf, but the 76-year-old Lukas must have seen something to ship him to Maryland to run him in a turf stakes. The horse had no turf workouts but he is a son of English Channel, who is throwing turf winners in bunches.
With that record, Skyring escaped at 8-1 with top Californian jockey Joel Rosario.
He put Skyring on the lead right from the jump and he was never headed, though Hammers Terror, second choice at 3-1, pressed him all the way. In deep stretch, Easy Crossing, the 2-1, favorite and Mr Handsome, a 23-1 shot, joined them and all four fought a thrilling tussle to the wire.
Skyring beat Easy Crossing by a neck with Mr Handsome a nose back in third. The winner got the mile in 1.35.3 to pay $19.60. The exacta came back $69.40.
“I liked him the best of all my horses all day long,” Lukas said.
“[Lukas] told me the horse tries hard and never gives us,” Rosario said. “He was certainly right.”
ALLAIR DUPONT DISTAFF
Two races before trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith teamed up in the Preakness with Bodemeister, they reached the winner’s circle when the 4-year-old filly Awesomemundo rallied wide into the stretch, then prevailed over Love and Pride in a long stretch duel to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Allaire Dupont Distaff by a head.
Owned by Baffert’s wife, Jill, Awesomemundo was making her first stakes appearance after winning three of her last four starts in California against maiden and allowance company.
After pressing the early pace set by Canadian Mistress, Love and Pride looked like a winner when she turned for home on top under John Velazquez. But then Awesomemundo came flying to her outside, and after appearing to bump a couple of times, Awesomemundo got up in the final strides.
The daughter of Awesome Again ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.70 to pay $4.80 as the favorite. The exacta returned $22.40.
Earlier on the card, Baffert and Smith won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race with the 3-year-old colt Paynter, a candidate for the June 9 Belmont Stakes.
It wouldn’t seem like a day at the track if the Todd Pletcher training juggernaut didn’t win a big race and yesterday was no exception when Hudson Steele demolished a strong field to win the Grade 2 $300,000 Dixie Stakes over 1¹/ miles on the turf.
Bet down to 3-1 favorite with hot jockey Javier Castellano on board, Hudson Steele trekked pacesetter Straight Story out of the gate, took over at the top of the stretch and then ran away from them all to score by 2 1/2 lengths from 16-1 long shot Humble and Hungry with Forte Dei Marmi a half length back in third.
The winner, a 5-year-old gelding, has never been off the board in seven starts on the turf, with five wins and two seconds. He came to the Dixie off a similarly easy score in a minor stake at Pimlico three weeks ago.
Casino Host, the second choice at 7-2 with John Velazquez, had to give six pounds to Hundson Steele and never looked like winning. From gate 11, he fell back to midpack early and struggled on to get fourth.
Hudson Steele, who won the Jersey Derby two years ago, ran the trip in 1.47.1 to pay $8.20. The exacta returned $119.60.The only hard luck story came from jockey Mike Smith on Forte Dei Marmi. “We had a bad start,” he said. “He stumbled right out of the gate and it probably cost us second.”A beaming Pletcher said, “He [the winner] was loaded up the whole way. It was a real big effort.” Castellano said, “He exploded. It was amazing. He was so strong.” So were the bettors who knocked him down to 3-1.
D. Wayne Lukas, Pimlico, Preakness Stakes, Hudson Steele, Mike Smith, James W. Murphy Stakes, Bob Baffert, Hundson Steele, John Velazquez, John Velazquez