James Wolf’s durable Artful Splatter, an eight-time career winner from 29 lifetime starts, will attempt to reverse her recent fortunes and become a stakes winner for the third time in Sunday’s $100,000 Caesar’s Wish at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 1 1/16-mile Caesar’s Wish for fillies and mares 3 and up is among four stakes worth $375,000 in purses on an 11-race Independence Day holiday program. It and the $100,000 Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series.
Other stakes are the $100,000 Concern for 3-year-olds going six furlongs and $75,000 Jameela for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled for five furlongs on the grass. Sunday’s program, which begins at 12:40 p.m., also includes a mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6, which carries a Maryland state record carryover jackpot of $1.351 million into the return of live racing Friday.
Post time Sunday is 12:40 p.m.
Artful Splatter made her first six career starts on the main track before being moved to the grass for five straight when she was claimed by trainer Kieron Magee out of a runner-up finish Sept. 7, 2019. The 5-year-old daughter of 2014 General George (G3) winner Bandbox reeled off five straight wins including the Geisha over 11-time stakes winner Anna’s Bandit to open 2020.
“We claimed her toward the end of grass season,” Magee said. “We claimed her thinking she’d run on the dirt, but she hadn’t been getting the chance.”
Since her streak ended, Artful Splatter has won two of 13 starts including a 10 ¼-length romp in an off-the-turf George Rosenberger Memorial last fall at Delaware Park and placed in three others, among them a second in the 2020 Twixt and third in the Feb. 20 Nellie Morse, both at Laurel Park.
“We claimed her for [$16,000] and she’s done very well. She won five in a row off that and she’s done everything we’ve asked of her,” Magee said. “Anytime you have a girl that goes long it’s tough to find spots.
“She always runs her race. She always tries hard,” he added. “We’ve put her in some spots that we shouldn’t have put her in, but she still shows up.”
Maryland’s overall leading trainer from 2014-16, the 60-year-old Magee is currently tied for second in the extended Preakness Meet standings with 12 wins at Pimlico, where the Ireland native and one-time exercise rider for fellow trainer Dale Capuano is based year-round.
“I’ve been around Pimlico most of my life. I love Pimlico. Absolutely,” he said. “Off all the tracks, Pimlico is home for me. I’m hoping we’re here for a few more months.”
Charlie Marquez rides Artful Splatter from Post 3 of eight at co-topweight of 126 pounds.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Kim Eshleman and campaigned in the name of her husband, James, Trolley Ride enters the Caesar’s Wish off a gutsy half-length victory in the Lyphard against fellow state-breds May 28 at Penn National. Originally scheduled for the turf, it was run over a sloppy track at 1 1/16 miles.
It was the second win in three starts for the 6-year-old Flashy Bull mare, who capped 2020 with an optional claiming allowance win and opened 2021 running fourth to undefeated Chub Wagon in the Unique Bella April 27, both sprinting seven furlongs at Parx.
“We were just kind of getting her ready the first time back. I do think she wants to go two turns because she has that kick at the end as long as she’s steady the first part,” trainer Bernie Houghton said. “She needs the backside to get her stride. That was a tough filly that won.
“She’s doing very good,” he added. “She had a good breeze [Tuesday]. She worked great, galloped out good and she’s doing good. I have a race picked out at the end of July so this works from a timing standpoint. It’s a good spot.”
Houghton has had Trolley Ride throughout a 26-race career that includes nine wins, two seconds, four thirds and $323,654 in purse earnings. She was born on his family’s Sylmar Farm, which also foaled and raised multiple Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar, named for the 300-acre spread founded by his parents.
“She’s done very well,” he said. “Kim has been our assistant at the farm for 40 years. She came in when she was real young and stayed with us. It’s very special for her.”
Inoel Beato, aboard for her stakes win, gets a return call from Post 2.
“She doesn’t mind the slop. She loves it. We’ll see what happens Sunday,” Houghton said. “I’m sure it’s going to be tougher than her last spot, for sure.”
Haymarket Farm’s Gracetown will be making her stakes debut in the Caesar’s Wish. The 5-year-old Into Mischief mare has two wins and two seconds in her last four starts dating back to a one-mile allowance triumph last November at Laurel. Runner-up in her next two races, she exits a 1 ¾-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance May 7 at Pimlico.
“She’s doing well for us as we’ve stretched her out. She’s been going around two turns very well,” trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said. “She’s a lovely, big mare with a nice pedigree. The owner wanted to breed her at the end of this year so we’re trying to pick up a little bit of black type for her along the line to enhance her value for the breeding shed.
“She’s been working well. I had her up at Delaware. I was going to run her in a stake or two up there but I’m not sure that she’s quite in love with the deep surface up there,” he added. “She’s won at the distance on the track, so that’s in her favor. She’s going to have to take a step up again, numbers-wise.”
Sheldon Russell gets the assignment from Post 1.
Mrs. Orb, a two-time New York-bred stakes winner and runner-up in the 2020 Turnback the Alarm (G3); multiple stakes-placed Landing Zone, most recently third in the Lady’s Secret June 6 at Monmouth Park; Suggestive Honor, Group 3-placed in her native Argentina last winter; His Glory and Sweet Sami D, third in the 2019 Monmouth Oaks (G3) and fifth in the Lady’s Secret, round out the field.
The Caesar’s Wish debuted in 1978 at old Bowie Race Course and was held at both Pimlico and Laurel before it was renamed the Beyond the Wire for 2018. It honors the Maryland-bred mare that won 11 of 16 starts over two seasons including the 1978 Mother Goose (G1) and Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and 1977 Demoiselle (G2) and Villager (G3). Her winning time in the Mother Goose broke Hall of Famer Ruffian’s stakes record and stood until 1994.
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