Ring Weekend Searches for Dixie Redemption

May 16, 2017 10:36am
Ring Weekend wins 2016 Seabiscuit
Photo: Benoit Photo/Del Mar

Trainer Graham Motion is no stranger to taking graded turf stakes in Maryland — or anywhere for that matter — and appears to hold a solid hand this weekend at Pimlico, led by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds G1-winning turf star Ring Weekend, who tries to improve upon a neck runner-up finish in last year’s Dixie.


Since that effort, the 6-year-old gelded son of Tapit has eight starts and a pair of Grade 2 wins. Wintering in California after finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G2), he took the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) in late November before a trio of off-the-board, albeit unlucky performances. Last out, he was off slowly before running fourth, beaten less than two lengths, in the Frank Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita March 11 after finishing fourth in the Arcadia (G2) in his previous start.


“He is a barn favorite and it’s been a frustrating campaign for him this winter,” Motion said. “One of his races came off the turf and was a disappointing result. I thought the last two fourth-place finishes were better than they look on paper. He wasn’t beaten much at all and those were good efforts. I thought he maybe could have been closer.


“People may think he’s lost an edge in his form, but that’s not the case,” Motion added. “We decided to freshen him up for this race. He’s an honest and lovely horse and was unlucky in this race last year, to be honest. It was really soft and he does prefer it a little more firm. I feel very good about him and excited to run him.”


Ring Weekend, fifth in the 2014 Preakness, has seven wins from 23 starts during carefully managed career. An on-the-board finish pushes his career bankroll over the $1.5 million mark.

Though with appropriately less fervor, but confidence nonetheless, Motion spoke to the prospects of Bjorn Nielsen’s Danilovna, who steps back into graded company in the $150,000 Stella Artois Gallorette (G3) earlier Saturday afternoon. Making what will be her eighth lifetime start and fifth for Motion after commencing her career in England, the daughter of Dansili won the local prep, the Dahlia at Laurel Park Apr. 22. It was her first start since an off-the-board finish in Aqueduct’s Winter Memories Nov. 25. In her lone graded try, she was an unlucky second by a nose second in Santa Anita’s Autumn Miss Oct. 29

“My only nervousness with her is coming back in a month off such a good performance, but I thought she won quite comfortably that day,” Motion said. “I don’t think that spot was that easy, either, but it’s obviously a big step up for her. I expect her to run well.” 

Source: Maryland Jockey Club 


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