BALTIMORE – On a cloudy and cool Saturday afternoon, Always Sunshine broke through with his first career graded-stakes victory in the $150,000 Sagamore Spirit Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
The 30th running of the Maryland Sprint for 3-year-olds and up was the first of eight stakes and four graded stakes on a spectacular 14-race Preakness Day program at Pimlico Race Course.
Bred and owned by Gilbert Campbell’s Stonehedge Farm and trained by Ned Allard, the same connections that will run Abiding Star in the 141st Preakness Stakes (G1) later Saturday, Always Sunshine took the lead from Cinco Charlie in mid-stretch and pulled away to a 2 ½-length victory in 1:10.49 over a muddy main track.
It was the fifth career win, third in as many tries over an off track and second in a stakes for Always Sunshine ($5.80), second choice in a field of seven at 9-5 under regular rider Frankie Pennington. The bay West Acre colt was second in the Tom Fool (G3) March 12 at Aqueduct in his only previous attempt at graded company.
All Star Red was second, two lengths ahead of 50-1 long shot Rockinn On Bye. Grade 1 winner Salutos Amigos, the 6-5 favorite who entered the race 7-for-7 on off tracks, was a non-threatening fifth.
Sagamore Spirit Maryland Sprint Stakes Quotes
Winning Trainer Ned Allard (Always Sunshine): “I was very confident going in. I was really up for this horse’s race. He’s such a nice horse. He’s turned into a monster. He’s one of those horses that trains like a good horse, acts like a good horse, and now he has to go out and prove it. He’s on his way to doing that.”
Winning Jockey Frankie Pennington (Always Sunshine): “He broke with [Cinco Charlie]. He took the lead, so we figured we’d sit outside. We got there and he was doing it very comfortably and easily. At the quarter-pole, I asked him, he took off and did it easily. The track is great and he handled it beautifully. I like him a lot.”
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez (All Star Red, 2nd): “We were happy to be here. He ran a big race. The race is very, very tough, but he showed he can compete with this kind of horses.”
Jockey Luis Saez (All Star Red, 2nd): “I got a great trip. He really came on and I thought we might get it, but the winner kept running. We just couldn’t catch him. He loves the wet.”
Trainer Stephen Casey (Rockinn on Bye, 3rd): “He ran super. We’re really proud of him. He’s never run with this type of horse before. And he did (today). He was flying the last part, so we’re really proud of him.”
Jockey Taylor Hole (Rockinn on Bye, 3rd): “We got a good trip and settled in nice and he ran real good. The track’s a little bit fast and he ran against it a little bit, but he kept on running. He fires every time.”
John Velazquez (Salutos Amigos, 5th) “I had a good trip, but I had no horse.”
Pimlico Race Course