What the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) lacks in star power it makes up for in numbers. Fourteen older horses were entered for Friday’s renewal, which will be run for the first time over 1 1/4 miles, a rarely used distance at the historic Baltimore oval.
You’re to Blame didn’t draw particularly well — post 13 — but will have plenty of time to find favorable position before reaching the first turn and is a bit of a long-winded sort anyway having captured the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx last fall. Later second in the $200,000 Temperence Hill over 1 5/8 miles at Belmont, the Todd Pletcher trainee kicked off his 2019 campaign with a one-length allowance win at Gulfstream going 1 1/16 miles.
Pletcher also has Grade 1-pladed Rally Cry, fourth in the Charles Town Classic (G2) and Woodward (G1) in his last two starts, in the field.
“Not every horse can get 1 1/4 miles,” Pletcher said. “You need to get a good run to establish a good position, and get into a comfortable rhythm. I think it plays to [my horses’] strengths.”
War Story finished behind You’re to Blame in the aforementioned marathon events last fall. Winner of the 2017 Brooklyn (G2) over 1 1/2 miles, he’s placed in numerous other graded events, including the Charles Town Classic three times.
Trainer Mark Casse won the Special in 2016 with Noble Bird and relies here on Flameaway. Although one of the classier horses on paper, the front-running colt may find it difficult to see out the trip. Perhaps a better candidate is Tenfold, a close third to Justify in last year’s Preakness (G1) and later victorious in the Jim Dandy (G2). However, the Curlin colt disappointed in the Oaklawn H. (G2) last time, finishing seventh with blinkers on for the first time.
Others with a chance, outside or otherwise, to pull a minor surprise are Unbridled Juan, Carlino, and Cordman.
A dominating figure up the road at Parx for the past several seasons, Pure Sensation enters off an April 12 allowance score at Gulfstream. Bound for Nowhere could be bound for a return trip to Royal Ascot, where he ran a close third in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) last year, with a good performance. He was last seen missing by a neck in his title defense of the April 6 Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland.
Despite entering off a 6 1/2-month layoff, Chalon looks imposing in the $100,000 Skipat, a six-furlong dash for fillies and mares. The multiple stakes winner lost photo finishes in both the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) in Kentucky last fall.
A modest renewal of the $150,000 Allaire duPont Distaff (G3) for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles includes Another Broad, recent winner of the $200,000 Top Flight at Aqueduct; 2018 Gazelle (G2) winner My Miss Lilly; Grade 1-placed Gio Game; and the multiple allowance winners Mylady Curlin and Golden Award.