LeRoy, miscast as a dirt horse in his youth, found himself after being
claimed by owner Ron Sanchez and put in the care of veteran trainer
Manny Azpurua. The 4-year-old is now a grass horse and comes into
Saturday’s historic 113th running of the $400,000 Dixie Stakes (G2) as
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
“We’re expecting him to win,” Sanchez said. “He’s been training well and we have the best rider in Javier Castellano.”
Hey LeRoy has had five different riders in his last five races and Castellano will be number six in six.
circumstances,” Sanchez said. “I love that he is riding my horse. With
Javier, Manny and me, our whole team is from Venezuela.”
Sanchez said his horse is much different from when he was claimed.
loves the grass and his numbers are pretty good,” the owner said. “If
everything goes as we plan, we think we have a shot in the Breeders’ Cup
Dixie, which dates to 1870, when it was won by Preakness – the horse
the Preakness Stakes is named for - is one of nine stakes, four of them
graded, among Saturday’s 13-races. The first post is 10:45 a.m. The
Dixie, as the 11th race on the program, immediately precedes the 139th
running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of
racing’s Triple Crown.
Sanchez’s enthusiasm, it is unlikely the 5-2 favorite will have
everything his own way in the 10-horse field. Hey LeRoy, sired by Any
Given Saturday, will see competition from more than one gate. Up With
the Birds, the Canadian Horse of the Year trained by Pierce Malcolm, is
the second choice at 5-1. While the Stormy Atlantic offspring comes in
off a sixth-place performance at Keeneland in his only race this year,
he has six wins in his last 9 races.
Sagamore Farms will send out Maryland bred Hamp. Sired by Sky Mesa,
Hamp is a 12-1 shot, but Sagamore trainer Ignacio Correas said he has
been pointing the 4-year-old to the Dixie for three months.
not the favorite to win the race, but I think we have an advantage in
that he’s run on the track before,” Correas said. “My horse is a very
special horse. There are not many Maryland-breds running this weekend
and we have Hamp and two others bred at Sagamore.
horse comes from way off the pace,” Correas said, pointing to Hamp’s
last win in the $100,000 Henry Clark Stakes run over a mile at Pimlico.
“At the half-mile he was last.
not worried about the pace. Usually in the good races they have a good
pace. I think some horses will come back to him. And, I think we have a
shot. He belongs in the race. Now he needs to run the best race of his
life and I think he’ll do it; and I hope that’s enough.”
Grade 3, 6-furlong $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap will be the fifth
race of the afternoon. It will see six horses going to post, with
4-year-old Happy My Way, with lifetime winnings of $272,185, going off
as the 6-5 favorite. Maryland racing fans might want to watch
Maryland-bred Action Andy at 8-1. The son of Gators N Bears has 12
career wins, more than any other horse in the field.
fillies and mares are expected in the very competitive ninth race of
the day, the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap. The $150,000 race
will be competed on the turf and features three graded stakes winners –
Strathnaver, the morning line favorite at 3-1, Somali Lemonade (7-2)
and Watsdachances (4-1).
stakes on the card are: the $100,000 The Very One (race 6), which has
15 fillies and mares entered for the 5 furlong turf challenge; the
$100,000 Chick Lang (race 7), with nine entries for the 6 furlong test
for 3-year-olds; the $100,000 James W. Murphy (race 8) another test for
3-year-olds, this one drawing 11 for the 1-mile turf test; the $100,000
Sir Barton Stakes (race 10) for 3-year-olds who have not won a
sweepstakes and the $40,000 Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap (race 2)
TODAY SHOW FRIDAY MORNING KICKS OFF NBC’S PREAKNESS WEEKEND COVERAGE
Dylan Dreyer of TODAY
will be at Pimlico Race Course on Friday morning, discussing Black-Eyed
Susan Day and Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. On Saturday morning’s Weekend TODAY, Carolyn Manno will be live from Pimlico with a look at California Chrome’s run for the Triple Crown.
Sports and NBC Sports Network will offer eight hours of coverage:
Friday from 3-5 p.m. and 1-7 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Post time for the
Preakness is 6:20 p.m. Eastern.