Edited Pimlico Release – Preakness weekend is when trainer Graham Motion really wants to come out and play. The 57-year-old native of Cambridge, United Kingdom, is always hopeful at this time of year because historic Pimlico Race Course is home for him and, with all eyes of the Thoroughbred world on Old Hilltop, Motion wants his horses to impress.
“We point to this weekend,” said Motion, whose base is the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., 65 miles north of Pimlico. “We can choose to run at Churchill Downs, we can choose to run here. You can’t do both. This is our home track and we have always had success at it. We point to this weekend.”
One of the horses Motion has high hopes for is Crystal Cliffs, who will be in the starting gate for the 72nd running of the $150,000 Gallorette (G3) for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old mare, owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb and Wonder Stables, will be making her second start of the year in the Gallorette, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
The Gallorette is one of 10 stakes races – six of them graded – worth $2.75 million on a 14-race Preakness day card. The first post on Saturday is 10:30 a.m.
This will be the fourth time the daughter of Canford Cliffs (IRE) has tried the Gallorette distance; she has a win, a second and a third.
In her first start this year, Crystal Cliffs captured the seven-furlong Sand Springs at Gulfstream Park as she drew off at the eighth pole and won by 2 ¾ lengths.
She had been away a long time as her prior trip to the races came last June 20, when she was a rallying third in the Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth Park. She began her career in France, arriving in the U.S. in 2020.
“She has had some on and off physical issues since she came over from Europe,” Motion said. “I have been happy with her since she came back this time. She looks like a bigger, stronger filly.”
Tyler Gaffalione, who rode her in the Sand Springs, will be back aboard on Saturday.
Motion has found the winner’s circle three times in the Gallorette, the most recent being last year when he won with Mean Mary.
Six other horses will line up to take on Crystal Cliffs:
Technical Analysis has won three of her four career starts on the grass at 1 1/16 miles. She won two starts at Saratoga last summer, the Lake George (G3) and Lake Placid (G2) before ending her 3-year-old season with a second-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland.
She has earned $418,200 in her eight grass starts, more than anyone else in the field. Jose Ortiz, who has ridden Technical Analysis in six of her eight starts, will be in the saddle.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will send In a Hurry, owned by Stuart S. Janney III, to the Gallorette The 5-year-old Blame filly was second as the 3-5 favorite in her last start, the Dahlia April 23 at Laurel Park.
In a Hurry was ninth in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational (G3) Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park. In the Gallorette, she will be reunited with jockey Joel Rosario.
“She ran fine [in the Dahlia]; she just didn’t finish as well as I would have liked,” McGaughey said. “She is doing really good and I am looking forward to running her.”
Calumet Farm’s Scarabea is exiting a fourth place finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1) April 16 at Keeneland. The Jack Sisterson-trained 4-year-old filly, who is by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, is 0-for-8 for her career on the grass with two second place finishes.
“She’s a bigger, stronger, faster filly now than she was,” Sisterson said. “We’ve always believed in her. She just got beat a head for third [in the Jenny Wiley]. The goal was to try and get Grade 1 black type for the farm. She is improving with each run.”
Also entered to run are Out of Sorts and Foggy Dreams, respectively fifth and seventh in the Dahlia, and Karakatsie, unraced since running fourth in the San Clemente (G2) last summer at Del Mar.