BALTIMORE, MD – Switzerland showed off his speed in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. This was the first graded stakes victory for the four-year-old son of Speightstown, who has been perfect in all four starts for Trainer Steve Asmussen since transferring barns and breaking his maiden last December.
The early lead was claimed by the pair of Red Dragon Tattoo and Switzerland who set fractions of :22.94 and :45.69. As they entered the turn, Red Dragon Tattoo quickly off, eventually ending up in the back of the pack by the top of the stretch. Switzerland continued to set the pace through the turn while the trio of Long Haul Bay, Irish Colonel and Lewisfield stalked close behind. Into the stretch Switzerland held a comfortable two-length lead that only grew and the finish came closer. Switzerland cruised to an easy victory on the muddy Pimlico dirt winning by 3 1/2 lengths. The 2-1 favorite Long Haul Bay came in second and was followed by Lewisfield in third and Irish Colonel in fourth.
Jockey Ricardo Santa Jr. said after the race, “He’s a nice horse. Steve told me the first time I rode him that he was going to be a special horse. Today he was really sharp, really in the bit. He broke good and I put him the spot I wanted. He showed his class.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. continue to dominate the day at Pimlico. The pair has now won 3 stakes races adding to earlier victories in the $200,000 Chick Lang with Mitole and in the $100,000 James W. Murphy with Tap Daddy
“He came into the barn a fast horse, and we’ve been able to maintain that. I think the key to today’s race was him being able to get away with going 22 4/5 the first quarter. He came into the barn really fast. He did come with (allowance conditions). But I’m a numbers guy, a ‘sheets’ guy, and just trying to maintain the ability he came to us with,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “I was surprised, the way the day’s played, that he was able to do that in the first quarter. You felt good. You say, ‘I like my chances from here,’ and he came home beautifully.”
Switzerland returned $7.80 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.00 to show. Long Haul Bay brought back $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show, while Lewisfield paid $3.40 to show.