BALTIMORE, MD – Isabelle de Tomaso’s homebred Irish War Cry rebounded from a rough past 11 months to return to the winner’s circle in Friday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking comfortably from the rail under Jose Ortiz, Irish War Cry assumed the early lead while setting comfortable splits of :23.19, :47.25, and 1:11.58. Given the cue in the upper stretch while already 2 1/2 lengths ahead of his rivals, Irish War Cry steadily increased his lead through to the wire. The Graham Motion trainee hit the finish line first by 4 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:55.51 for the 1 3/16-mile event over a sloppy (sealed) main track.
“The key was the distance today,” Ortiz said of the colt whose last victory came in 2017’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes. “With the 1 3/16 miles, he broke well, I let him run to the first turn, took a hold of him, and he got under his feet beautifully. When I asked him by the 3/8 pole, he kept going and gave me everything he had. I am glad he showed up today because he has been working really nice in the morning. Today, he finally ran well.”
Well behind the winner, One Liner and Untrapped crossed in a dead heat for second. One Liner had tracked the winner closely from second for much of the race before fading in the stretch and allowing Untrapped to catch him at the wire. Discreet Lover took fourth ahead of Rated R Superstar, while Afleet Willy nosed out Hedge Fund for sixth. The favored Something Awesome was anything but, failing to fire before being eased across the finish line in eighth. Papa Zulu was scratched.
Irish War Cry’s victory was a triumphant return for a colt that showed great promise in 2017 before taking time off last fall, then struggled last out in the Grade 2 Hardacre Mile Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 4-year-old son of Curlin improved his record to 12-5-2-0 with career earnings of $1,252,060.
“I just wanted to get him back on track, and I feel like today, we did that,” Motion said. “It was important to me. This horse shows so much in the morning and it’s so frustrating to see him run disappointedly in the afternoons. He really did get the thumps last time. I really think the hot, humid weather at Gulfstream doesn’t agree with him. He’s run his two poorest races down there. I think getting the cooler air of today is like running at Aqueduct last year. It’s just a different deal. It was very reassuring.”
Irish War Cry returned $10 to win, $5 to place, and $4.20 to show. One Liner brought back $3.20 to place and $3.80 to show, while Untrapped paid $4.20 to place and $5 to show.