Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Yaupon , record-setting winner of the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) last fall, returns to Maryland looking to recapture his winning form in the July 4 $100,000 Lite the Fuse Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
The six-furlong Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up returns to the Maryland stakes calendar for the first time since being run in 2002 at Laurel Park.
Yaupon gave the Heiligbrodts and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen the second of three straight Chick Lang victories Oct. 1, after the race was pushed back from mid-May amid the coronavirus pandemic. They also won with Mitole , the 2019 champion male sprinter, in 2018 and Mighty Mischief May 15. Mighty Mischief also returns in the Concern Stakes, two races before the Lite the Fuse.
The Chick Lang was the fourth consecutive win for Yaupon and second straight in a graded stakes following the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) last August at Saratoga Race Course. Each of them came in front-running fashion. He then competed in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), where the son of Uncle Mo ran into traffic trouble in upper stretch and wound up eighth in the field of 14, beaten 6 1/4 lengths.
Yaupon has made one start this year, again encountering trouble running eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1) March 27 in Dubai. He has been working steadily since mid-May at Churchill Downs for his return.
“I’m hoping he’ll run good. Obviously, he’s coming back,” Heiligbrodt said. “He went over to Dubai and had problems over there, so we’re trying to get him straightened out if we can.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. will be in town to ride Yaupon for the first time from the far outside in a field of seven. Yaupon has raced exclusively at six furlongs throughout his career.
“He’s doing really good right now (but) you never know until you race,” Heiligbrodt said. “He had a pretty bad experience in the Breeders’ Cup, so we’ll see what happens. But he’s a very, very talented horse.
“He’s not Mitole, and I don’t think there will ever be another horse like him as far as consistently every time putting him on the track and running out of his skin, but he’s a very nice horse,” he added. “He’s a very nice pedigreed horse so I hope he runs well. I hope everybody over there will enjoy both (he and Mighty Mischief). They’re as good as I can send them.”
Two days after Yaupon’s Chick Lang victory, Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki became a graded stakes winner in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (G3). The 8-year-old gelding captured the April 24 Frank Y. Whiteley Stakes two starts back, marking his fifth straight season as a stakes winner.
An 11-time winner from 34 career starts with purse earnings of $805,162, the Maryland-bred Laki exits a fifth-place finish behind Special Reserve in the six-furlong Maryland Sprint Match Series Stakes (G3) May 15.
The Maryland Sprint came just 22 days following Laki’s second career Whiteley victory. He’ll have had 51 days from the Maryland Sprint to the Lite the Fuse, which trainer Damon Dilodovico believes is in his favor.
“I always like to give him the time when I can give it to him,” Dilodovico said. “Even though he didn’t place well Preakness day, I still feel like he ran well. He came out of the race good. We scoped him after and he came back clean.”
Regular rider Horacio Karamanos will be aboard Laki from post 4.
Michael Dubb’s Chateau , winner of the March 6 Tom Fool Handicap (G3), recent Ben’s Cat Stakes winner Valued Notion , Threes Over Deuces , Lebda , and Whiskey and You complete the field for the Lite the Fuse.
Pimlico Race Course, Sunday, July 04, 2021, Race 10
- 3 yo’s & up
- 5:37 PM (local)