BALTIMORE –05-21-11 – Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman’s Ventana prevailed over Immortal Eyes following a hotly contested stretch duel to win the $100,000 AMResorts Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) this afternoon at Pimlico Race Course.

Jockey Travis Dunkelberger, aboard Immortal Eyes, claimed foul against Martin Garcia, the rider of Ventana, claiming interference during the late stages of the stretch run, but the stewards did not rule in his favor.

Ventana won by a neck and stopped the clock in 1:09.88 for the six-furlong distance. China finished third.

Ventana is a 5-year-old son of Toccet trained by Bob Baffert. This was his second stakes victory. He paid $5.20.

Maryland Sprint Quote

Bob Baffert (winning trainer, Ventana) – “California sprinters are pretty tough. I’ve got to move them around. I thought it would be a good fit for him to come here. It was a last-minute thing to bring him here. I nominate my horses everywhere and when I see one working well, boom, away we go. I made it a few days ago before the plane left (California). He’s been working well and there really was nothing in California. I’m trying to spread these horses out. We thought it was a good spot for him and it was. And he ran fast. I:09 4/5 is fast here.

“Oh he came out a little bit, but not enough. He just barely came out; he grabbed him right away. He lost his whip.”

Martin Garcia (winning, jockey, Ventana) – “I think the other horse and I were pretty close, but I corrected it right away. It looked like I had contact, but I really didn’t. It’s been a while since I won on him, so it felt good.”

Damon Dilodovico (trainer, Immortal Eyes, 2nd) – “He just set the track record at Charles Town and came out of it super. He’s been training so well, and he ran great.”

Travis Dunkelberger (jockey, Immortal Eyes, 2nd) – “He tried the whole way. This horse is so game; he’s as game as they come. I felt I should claim foul. He came out for a stride or two.”

John Good (trainer, China, 3rd) – “He broke and he was right there. I would have liked to see him make a little more use of him early in the race, but it is what it is. They were going along pretty quick. I’m disappointed that it wasn’t his best race, but he hung in there for third.”

John Velazquez (jockey, China, 3rd) – “We were a little too far out. But he ran well and tried hard.”