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Paddy O'Prado storms to victory in G2 Dixie at Pimlico

Saturday, May 14, 2011 |
Gainesway sales grad Paddy O'Prado made up nearly 10 lengths in the last three furlongs to capture the $200,000 Dixie S. (G2) over the Pimlico turf course on May 21 (VIDEO). The millionaire Grade 1 winner and Kentucky Derby (G1)-third was making his first start since last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), but was heavily favored by the Preakness Day crowd.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux had Paddy O'Prado near the back of the seven- horse Dixie field while Baryshnikov held the lead through leisurely fractions of 24.76 seconds for the quarter, 49.07 for the half-mile, and 1:14.21 for six furlongs on the “good” turf course. Making his move at the quarter pole, Desormeaux went five wide around the final turn to roll down the lane and reel in the pacesetter inside the final furlong. The official margin was 1 1/2 lengths, as “Paddy” pulled away late to stop the timer in 1:53.56 for the 1 1/8 miles.

“He had to reach up and find his class from the three-sixteenths to eighth pole,” Desormeaux said. “Once he gutted that out and got near [Baryshnikov] I found him to be a lot more of a racehorse to get by him.”

Said Romans: “It was a big race first time back. I was a little concerned, but when he made his move around the turn I knew he was good enough to keep it up.”

Gainesway sold Paddy O'Prado for $105,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Sale to Jerry Crawford's Donegal Racing. Bred in Kentucky by Winchell Thoroughbreds, the gray/roan son of El Prado has exhibited amazing versatility, compiling Grade 1 stakes performances on every surface. Last year at three, he broke his maiden on the grass in the Grade 3 Palm Beach S., ran second in the Blue Grass (G1) on Polytrack, then ran third in the Derby (G1) over dirt.

After running sixth in the 2010 Preakness (G1), Paddy O’Prado returned to the grass and reeled off victories in the Colonial Turf Cup (G2), Virginia Derby (G2) and Secretariat (G1) before running second in the Turf Classic Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park in his first test against older horses. He was acknowledged as North America's best 3-year-old on the turf, and was a Finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old.

Paddy O'Prado injured his right front leg during the running of the Dixie, and was retired from racing. His boasts a career record of 5-3-3 and $1,721,297 from 14 starts.