Special Reserve Gives Red-Hot Maker Another Graded Stakes Win In Maryland Sprintspecial

Trainer Michael Maker has a knack for turning claiming horses into graded stakes winners. He did it on Friday when Last Judgment, a $62,500 claim, won the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on the opening day of Preakness weekend at Old Hilltop in Baltimore, Md. He accomplished the feat again on Preakness day Saturday when Special Reserve captured the Grade 3, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes, three races after Maker claimed the 5-year-old Midshipman gelding for $40,000 at Oaklawn Park.

Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Special Reserve dueled with 5-2 favorite Strike Power, put that one away at the top of the stretch, then drew out for his first stakes triumph, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. Special Reserve covered six furlongs in a quick 1:08.91 after fractions of :22.94, :45.38 and :56.77. Special Reserve paid $9.80.

Owned by Paradise Farms Corp. and David Standacher, Special Reserve gave Maker his third graded stakes of the Preakness weekend, following Friday’s stakes double with Last Judgment and Army Wife in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. He added a fourth graded stakes win in the race following the Maryland Sprint when Somelikeithotbrown won the Grade 2 Dinner Party Stakes.

Strike Power – who was trying to give trainer Steve Asmussen his third consecutive victory in the Maryland Sprint and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. his fourth straight – held second by 1 1/4 lengths, with Frosted Grace third, Mucho fourth and Laki fifth in the field of 11 older runners. They were followed by War Tocsin, Threes Over Deuces, Lebda, Seven Nation Army and Yodel E.A. Who.

Breezy Gust was pulled up n by jockey Joel Rosario approaching the half-mile pole, but the gelding walked back to the stable area.

Starting from the No. 8 post position, Special Reserve broke on top, but Ortiz allowed Strike Power and Santana to move through on the inside to take the lead. Special Reserve was on Strike Power’s right flank throughout and moved to the lead at the top of the stretch.

The Maryland Sprint was the second win from three starts since Maker claimed Special Reserve. He was coming off a good second to the tough sprinter Flagstaff in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on April 3. This was Special Reserve’s sixth career win from 19 starts.

The Maryland Sprint is part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) series, which ran from 1997-01, then was revived in  2018. It is a regional racing series for multiple divisions of horses that offers bonuses to owners and trainers compiling the most points. The 2020 series was not held because of COVID-19 and this year’s series is abbreviated to include races from  Maryland and Virginia. Series organizers anticipate returning to a more robust schedule involving additional racetracks and horsemen’s organizations in 2022.

Post-race quotes:

Winning Trainer Mike Maker (Special Reserve): “I might get some stalls (in Maryland).”

“He was in at Oaklawn (for a $40,000 claiming tag on Feb. 6). We’ve got to have this horse, and we claimed him. He had a bit of a bleeding issue that we addressed and got taken care of, and the rest is history. We originally liked him because he was still eligible for two-other-than [allowances]. You never know in this game.”

“I just gave a leg up to Irad [Ortiz Jr.] and said ‘Good luck.’ That was about it. He was going to be forwardly placed.”

Winning Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Special Reserve): “The horse broke great and put me in the race very quick out of there, I had a horse inside with speed. I just relaxed and tried not to fight with him too much. He came back to me, so I left him there and when I asked him, he took straight off for me to win.”

 Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Strike Power; 2nd): “He ran hard and gave me everything he had. We had a good trip – just second best today.”

Trainer Kathy Ritvo (Frosted Grace; 3rd): “He ran a good race. We’re happy with him.”

Jockey Javier Castellano (Frosted Grace; 3rd): “He went really well. I expected to be a little closer to the pace, but the horse missed the break. There was nothing I could do. I liked the way he did it: come from behind, saved all the ground, cut the corner. He did really well today.”

The post Special Reserve Gives Red-Hot Maker Another Graded Stakes Win In Maryland Sprintspecial appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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