New York-based trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Friday he plans to bring five horses to Pimlico for stakes on Preakness weekend, led by Stronach Stable's multiple Grade 1 winner Shaman Ghost in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) May 19.
Shaman Ghost breezed five furlongs in a bullet 59.05 seconds Wednesday over the training track at Belmont Park, the fastest of 10 horses. He has run twice this year, finishing second in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) behind Arrogate and winning the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 11 last time out.
Jerkens said he also expects to run DeDe McGehee's Dolphus, a half-brother to Hall of Fame mare and 2009 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra and the son of 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, in the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up. Dolphus is coming off a front-running one-mile allowance victory April 23 at Aqueduct.
Other horses Jerkens plans to run are Joseph V. Shields Jr.'s Full House in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Summer Reading in the $100,000 Skipat, both May 19, and Allen Stable's Secretary at War in the $100,000 James W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard May 20.
“We're still working on it but I wouldn't want to get there any later than Thursday,” Jerkens said. “I'm leaning toward Wednesday because I'd like the horses all to get a look at everything, school in the paddock and maybe get a gallop over the track. That's what we'd like to do.”
Will Farish's Eagle will run in the Pimlico Special, said Churchill Downs-based trainer Neil Howard, who also is bringing Society Beau for the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton for 3-year-olds May 20.
The 5-year-old Eagle in his last start was second in Keeneland's Ben Ali (G3) in defense of his 2016 victory. He has been second, third or fourth in eight other graded stakes, including starting this season with a pair of fourth at the Fair Grounds following a 7 1/2-month layoff.
Last year Eagle instead ran in Churchill Downs' Alysheba (G2) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard and then the Stephen Foster (G1) in mid-June, finishing second in both. The timing of the Pimlico Special from the April 15 Ben Ali, which came two weeks after the New Orleans Handicap, spurred the decision to wait for the Maryland race this year.
“He's doing well,” Howard said. “We ran back a little on short rest to the Ben Ali. Mr. Farish and I talked about it, so we decided to take the extra time and wait for the Special. We also were liking the mile and 3/16 for Eagle, so that was another reason.”
Howard won the 2003 Pimlico Special with future Horse of the Year Mineshaft and the 1990 Preakness with Summer Squall.
Society Beau is coming off an allowance victory at Keeneland. The 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton will mark his stakes debut.
“The Sir Barton is a restricted 3-year-old stakes, for non-winners of a stakes, so we thought that would be a good spot for him,” Howard said. “I'm happy with both horses, and looking forward to it.”
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