Buck's Boy, an impressive fourth in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf last November, arrived at Pimlico Race Course yesterday for a confidence builder.
But the 5-year-old's handlers got more than they bargained for, receiving a scare in the $75,000-guaranteed Riggs Handicap.
Lightly raced Cetewayo, from Tapeta Farms in North East, Md., made several bold moves against the $625,000 winner from Illinois. But in the end, the 2-5 favorite was able to maintain his poise and prevail, capturing the 1 1/2 -mile race on the turf in an impressive 2: 28 1/5.
Cetewayo, 9-2, was second and Lord Zata was third. Buck's Boy paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10; Cetewayo paid $3.60 and $2.10. The exacta returned only $8.
Edgar Prado, in the midst of a five-day suspension, rode the winner for trainer Hilary Pridham. Prado took the option of riding one race during one day of his suspension, extending the suspension an additional day.
He received the suspension for "careless riding" on May 10 aboard R.B. Snipe. The original suspension dates were Wednesday through today. He will now miss mounts tomorrow.
"It was fun to come in and take the money and run," Prado said.
Buck's Boy, now with 10 wins in 19 lifetime starts (all but one on turf), spends most of his time in the barn of Illinois mainstay Noel Hickey.
But with the closing of Arlington Park, Hickey sent assistant Pridham to Delaware Park with 15 horses from his stable. With half of Hickey's horses stabled nearby, the Riggs became an option.
"We'll go whereever there is grass," Pridham said.
"We really wanted to get his confidence back after some tough races. This was an easier spot and we wanted to get him back on winning ways."
It was the fourth race of the year for Buck's Boy, who won the
Grade II Pan American at Gulfstream in March before running last on the dirt in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap in his most recent start, April l4.
With glittering turf credentials, Buck's Boy was the day's strongest favorite, and offered just .40 for each dollar wagered. He appeared to be in trouble when Cetewayo and jockey Carlos Marquez made a strong move on the backstretch to pull within a length, and then edged closer with just a furlong remaining.
But Prado had enough in reserve to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths, leaving assistant trainer Joan Wakefield a happy runner-up with Cetewayo.
"When he made that first move, I thought, 'You're a long way from home; don't move too early," said Wakefield. "But I was delighted with the way he ran. To be in contention against a graded winner like Buck's Boy, that's OK."
In fact, Buck's Boy carried just 117 pounds, spotting only six pounds to Cetewayo, a horse with just three lifetime wins in seven starts and no stakes experience. Cetewayo will find easier company in his next start.
"We'll happily be in an allowance race next time," said Wakefield, an assistant to Michael Dickinson. Both are natives of England and have recently upgraded their training facility in North East to accommodate their 20 horses in training and scores of 2-year-olds.
As might be expected, Dickinson and Wakefield have many turfers, though Cetewayo debuted on the dirt against $20,000 claimers, a race he won.
But his best came on the grass. He won a race at the Meadowland last October as a 3-year-old, but had to wait until April 24 to make his next start, in an allowance race at Pimlico.
A seven-length allowance win prompted Wakefield and Dickinson to try the Riggs.
Pub Date: 5/24/98