By Jack Shinar
Nicanor, full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, drew the far outside post in a field of 13 for his stakes debut in the $200,000 Dixie (gr. IIT) on the Pimlico turf May 15.
The Dixie, at 1 1/8 miles, is the race preceding the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on Pimlico's biggest day of racing. The 11th race on the program, it is set for a 5:12 p.m. EDT post.
Nicanor, Lael Stables' 4-year-old by Dynaformer out of the Carson City mare La Ville Rouge, had been set to make his stakes debut in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) as the morning line favorite at Colonial Downs last July 18. But a leg injury forced trainer Michael Matz to scratch him on the day before the race.
The bay colt was sidelined until April 8 when he returned to action at Keeneland, finishing fifth -- though beaten by just one length -- as the favorite in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance race. Nicanor, who was restrained early in that race by jockey Julien Leparoux, will be ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado in the Dixie.
Pimlico, of course, is where Barbaro shattered bones in his right hind leg shortly after the start of the 2006 Preakness and later succumbed to laminitis.
Nicanor began his career in January 2009 and has won twice with two seconds in six lifetime starts, his last three on turf. Both of his victories came on the Delaware Park grass.
He'll face a salty group in the Dixie, including Just as Well and Wesley, who ran second and third, respectively, in last year's renewal.
Jonathan Sheppard's 7-year-old Just as Well went on to finish second in last summer's Arlington Million (gr. IT) and was placed first by disqualification in the Northern Dancer Stakes (Can-IT) at Woodbine. The son of A.P. Indy has earned $1,042,412 in a 22-race career that includes five victories.
Just as Well has raced once in 2010, finishing fourth in the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) on Keeneland's Polytrack April 18. He'll break from post 4 with Leparoux aboard.
Grade III winner Wesley, who drew the rail with Javier Castellano riding, has won once in two starts in 2010 for trainer Mark Hennig. Following a convincing 2 1/2-length win over an optional claiming field at Gulfstream Park Feb. 25, the 5-year-old El Prado horse ran fourth in the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland April 9. Wesley, owned by J. Paul Reddam and Willmott Stables, has won five of 19 overall and earned $333,128.
Grassy makes his first stakes appearance since running a close fourth in Belmont Park's Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) last fall. Christophe Clement trains the 4-year-old son of El Prado for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. Garrett Gomez rides Grassy, who breaks from post 2.
Baltimore Bob is the only horse in the race with a win over the Pimlico course, coming from far off the pace to win the one-mile Henry Clark Stakes in a driving finish April 17 for trainer John Secor. The 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon finished eighth in last year's Dixie.
Coolcullen Times won three consecutive races in his native Ireland last year and wasn't embarrassed when finishing fifth in his American debut in a high-level allowance race at nine furlongs at Keeneland April 10. Trained by Graham Motion for Hickory Tree Stable, the 4-year-old Rock of Gibraltar colt had been on the sidelines for more than nine months. Edgar Prado rides.
Edgewood Farm's Forgotten Dynasty won three races in a row on the Gulfstream Park lawn. The lightly-raced 4-year-old son of Dynaformer makes his stakes debut for trainer Seth Benzel.
Grade II winner Strike a Deal, a lifetime earner of $932,341, ran sixth in last year's Dixie. The 6-year-old has been idle since a seventh-place showing in the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park July 4.
$200,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 11, 5:12 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Wesley (KY), J Castellano, M A Hennig
2. Grassy (KY), G K Gomez, C Clement
3. Coolcullen Times (IRE), E S Prado, H G Motion
4. Just as Well (KY), J R Leparoux, J E Sheppard
5. Forgotten Dynasty (PA), J R Velazquez, S Benzel
6. Picou (FL), E Trujillo, C C Brown
7. Baltimore Bob (MD), V Diaz, J B Secor
8. Strike a Deal (KY), R A Dominguez, A E Goldberg
9. Rahystrada (KY), I Karlsson, B G Hughes
10. Lonely Whistle (NY), S Russell, E Maher
11. Rockaby Bay (KY), K J Desormeaux, H A Smith
12. Pick Six (KY), M E Smith, E M Oare
13. Nicanor (KY), R Albarado, M R Matz
All carry 118 pounds.
Blinkers Off: Pick Six