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Boy, we sure saw some fun times at Pimlico, aka “Old Hilltop,” last weekend. The sport went through a fresh new hell in the past week, but between the good guys rising to the top, as well as barns with recent positive drug tests seemingly faltering left, right, and center, horse racing needed it.
As the sun set over Baltimore Saturday, here’s who we felt earned the right to make our Three Stars of the Week:
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Few trainers were more deserving of winning a first Triple Crown race than Michael McCarthy, one of the true good guys when it comes to handling horses who saddled Rombauer to win the Preakness Stakes (G1). With jockey Flavien Prat in the irons, Rombauer sat a mid-pack stalking trip before pouncing on a weakened Medina Spirit and a hard-fighting Midnight Bourbon in the stretch. We might not have nailed this outcome in the wagering guide, but the sport needed someone honest to win a Triple Crown race this year, and McCarthy and Rombauer got the job done.
Trainer Mike Maker had himself a weekend, winning 2 stakes at Pimlico on both Friday and Saturday. The latter day’s success kicked off in the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) with this speedy gelding who has been near-perfect in 2021. Maker dropped $40k to claim him out of a February victory at Oaklawn Park, saddled him to repeat the same result next out, then sent him off to finish a game second in the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, his first stakes try for the barn. Saturday’s effort showed that he belongs in the conversation among the top older dirt sprinters in the country, especially with as well as he can seemingly ration his early turn of foot.
Immediately after Special Reserve’s victory, Maker sent Somelikeithotbrown out to win the Dinner Party Stakes (G2) over a tough field that threw everything possible at him, but to no effect. After patiently allowing the rabbit Flying Scotsman to blaze early, Somelikeithotbrown took first run at the fading pacesetter and held off all comers to win a race in which he was second last year. Now a 5-time stakes champion, he’s never finished worse than second in 6 turf starts at the race’s 1 1/16-mile distance (3 wins, 3 seconds) and should have a big summer in New York, where he could choose to dominate fellow state-bred foes or take on the big guns at Saratoga and Belmont Park.
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