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Class-Dropping Emmanuel Formidable in Dinner Party

Siena and WinStar Farm’s Emmanuel  has won seven of his 14 starts, including victories in five graded stakes. Only a grade 1 prize has eluded him in five such attempts, including recently when he finished fifth in the April 12 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland.

Back outside the top stakes tier, the Todd Pletcher trainee looms an imposing presence in the May 18 Dinner Party Stakes (G3T) at Pimlico Race Course. He leads a field of 12 in the $500,000 race at 1 1/8 miles on turf that goes as the 12th race, which goes off immediately before the Preakness Stakes (G1).

Highly effective at 1 1/16 miles and shorter, Emmanuel’s staying power is tested at 1 1/8 miles, though he won the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2T) at the trip when setting an easy pace in June 2022. In his other race at a distance on turf, he ran third in the 2023 Dinner Party, beaten a half-length.

A 5-year-old son of More Than Ready , he is at his best on firm ground, the surface on which he has recorded his five victories on grass. A long-term forecast from the National Weather Service calls for a chance of rain on Saturday.

He caught firm turf in capturing the Canadian Turf (G3T) for the second consecutive year this March at Gulfstream Park, but not in his follow-up start in the Maker’s Mark Mile, when rain left the Keeneland course yielding. In front early, he was overhauled by Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T) winner Master of the Seas  and others and faded to fifth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths.

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Irad Ortiz Jr., his rider over his last five starts, returns in the irons.


Three of his rivals—Adhamo , Atone , and Highland Chief —have scored at the grade 1 level, though not for a year or more.

Three Diamonds Farm’s Atone will look to end a nine-race losing streak after taking the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1T) in January 2023. Fifth two starts ago behind Emmanuel in the Canadian Turf, he finished second in the Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes on synthetic in his last start March 23 at Turfway Park. At times, poor racing luck has contributed to his defeats.

“He’s run some good races; he just didn’t quite get there,” said trainer Mike Maker.

Luis Saez rides.

Grade 3 winners Balnikhov  and Beatbox  are other contenders.

Entries: Dinner Party S. (G3T)

Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 18, 2024, Race 12

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 5:52 PM (local)

Fluffy Socks Also Dips From Grade 1 Ranks

Earlier on the card in the seventh race, Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks  takes a similar class drop as Emmanuel to compete in the $100,000 Gallorette Stakes (G3T) after finishing sixth in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland April 13. A three-time graded winner and earner of $1.2 million for trainer Chad Brown, she will again be ridden by Ortiz, her jockey for seven of her eight starts in 2023-24.

Sweet Dani Girl , Dana’s Beauty , Blissful , Tequilera , and Ascendancy  head the opposition.

Entries: Gallorette S. (G3T)

Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 18, 2024, Race 7

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
  • 2:08 PM (local)

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