By Joe Bianca
A little over a year in the rearview, it appeared as though Isabelle Haskell de Tomaso’s Irish War Cry (Curlin) and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Bloodstock and Head of Plains Partners’ One Liner (Into Mischief) were prepared to ascend to or near the summit of their 3-year-old class. Assorted injuries and disappointments later, however, the two are still looking to live up to their past glories as they clash alongside seven other rivals in Friday’s GIII Pimlico Special S.
Irish War Cry, named a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after an impressive debut at Laurel in the fall of 2016, validated that distinction with an empathic score two starts later in the GII Holy Bull S. After disappointing as the heavy favorite in the GII Fountain of Youth S., the chestnut bounced back with a convincing score in the GII Wood Memorial S., but he backed up to finish 10th in the GI Kentucky Derby to start a string of six consecutive defeats. Making his 4-year-old debut in the GIII Hal’s Hope S. Feb. 24 in Hallandale, he showed signs of life with a solid second, but failed to respond when beaten 29 1/2 lengths next out in the GII Gulfstream Park Hardacre Mile S. Mar. 31.
One Liner started his career three-for-three, capped by an impressive score in last February’s GIII Southwest S. at Oaklawn. After a subpar workout in preparation for the GI Arkansas Derby, the $150,000 Keeneland January buy was given the rest of the year off and didn’t return until suffering his first defeat when third in a Gulfstream allowance Feb. 9. He bounced back with a workmanlike victory Apr. 21 at Keeneland, and will likely need to move forward off that effort to take home top honors here.
Stronach Stable’s Something Awesome (Awesome Again) has been just that since switching to dirt and transferring to the Jose Corrales barn last fall, winning five of six starts while being beaten less than a length in the other try. The 7-year-old gelding earned comes in off of the most significant win of his life when gutting out a neck tally in the GII Charles Town Classic Apr. 21.
The connections of One Liner will also be represented by Hedge Fund (Super Saver). Narrowly missing in the GIII Illinois Derby last spring, the WinStar homebred is still looking for his first graded tally, but earned a career-high when scoring in the Essex H. Mar. 17 at Oaklawn. The chestnut will be looking to bounce back from finishing 10th after a slow start in the GII Oaklawn H. last out Apr. 14.