Soggy Conditions Suit California Raider Balnikhov In Dinner Party

Balnikhov Jim McCue


The only member of the field for Saturday's GIII Dinner Party S. with proper soft-ground form, Balnikhov (Ire) (Adaay {Ire}) was given a letter-perfect ride by Frankie Dettori and kicked home smartly to score for the third time at the graded stakes level, snapping an eight-race skid in the process.

Allowed to find his own rhythm, Balnikhov anchored himself at the back of the nine-strong field, as longshot Helms Deep (Verrazano) showed the way passing the stands for the first time. Favored Running Bee (English Channel), the rail-skimming Highland Chief (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) and Atone (Into Mischief) raced more or less as a team about five lengths in arrears. Helms Deep enjoyed an easy time of things on the engine, getting the opening half-mile in :52.77, but Balnikhov was felt for by the Italian three furlongs out as Running Bee took over from Helms Deep at the midpoint of the final turn.

The California raider made eye-catching progress with a rails run inside of English Bee (English Channel) and tracked the ground-saving Highland Chief into the final quarter of a mile before edging out three wide for the drive. Accelerating more sharply than Atone to his outside, Balnikhov descended upon Highland Chief and Running Bee three off the inside at the furlong grounds and kept on well as Crabs N Beer (Blofeld) closed nicely for second.

“The horse loved the soft,” Dettori said. “He went through it like a hot knife through butter. I only had to find a way out and he did the rest.”

Added trainer Phil d'Amato, saddling the rare graded winner outside the Golden State: “I gave him some time off, and he ran a really good race in the San Francisco Mile. I thought this horse is kind of on the upswing. He came back with a really good breeze. We kind of had this race in mind. The connections were going to be there at Pimlico, and we were able to get Frankie Dettori, and everything seemed to work out. Frankie gave him a masterful ride, saving ground, angling out and proving best.”

A three-time winner in France for Rodolphe Collet, including a maiden-breaking victory in easy ground at Angers at two, Balnikhov won the 2022 GIII Bryan Station S. the following year and made last year's GIII San Francisco Mile his lone victory from eight starts over the course of the season. The dark bay had two runs under his belt this term, a never-nearer fifth in the GIII Thunder Road S. at Santa Anita in February and a fast-finishing third, beaten a half-length, in the final renewal of the San Francisco Mile Apr. 27.

Pedigree Notes:

Balnikhov is one of three group/graded winners for his sire, a son of Kodiac (GB), and one of eight stakes winners overall.

A full-sister to the stakes-placed New Line and a half to SP Interject (Empire Maker), Juddmonte Farms-bred Leeward was snapped up by Crispin de Moubray for 37,000gns as a 3-year-old out of training at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in 2016. Not bred the following winter, she visited Adaay in 2018 and Balnikhov is her first produce. Behind him is the six-time maiden 3-year-old filly L'Ardechoise (Fr) (El Kabeir), a 2-year-old filly by Almanzor (Fr) and a yearling colt by the same stallion.




Saturday, Pimlico
DINNER PARTY S.-GIII, $500,000, Pimlico, 5-18, 3yo/up, 1 1/8mT, 1:58.90, sf.
1–BALNIKHOV (IRE), 120, g, 5, by Adaay (Ire)
           1st Dam: Leeward, by First Defence
           2nd Dam: Introducing, by Deputy Minister
           3rd Dam: Interim (GB), by Sadler's Wells
(€27,000 Ylg '20 ARDEAY). O-Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables LLC and Old Bones Racing Stable, LLC; B-T. de La Heronnierre & Gestut Zur Kuste AG (IRE); T-Philip D'Amato; J-Lanfranco Dettori. $300,000. Lifetime Record: 26-7-5-4, $987,843. Werk Nick Rating: B+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Crabs N Beer, 120, g, 5, Blofeld–Get'm Up Pronto, by Kitalpha. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Charles Blanford; B-Kyle M. Horlacher (MD); T-Keri Brion. $100,000.
3–Running Bee, 122, h, 5, English Channel–Our Joy, by El Prado (Ire). ($19,000 Ylg '20 FTKFEB). O-Calumet Farm; B-English Channel Co-Owners & Gordon Gilliam (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $50,000.
Margins: 1HF, 3, HF. Odds: 5.40, 14.20, 1.90.
Also Ran: Highland Chief (Ire), Atone, Eons, English Bee, Beatbox, Helms Deep. Scratched: Adhamo (Ire), Emmanuel, Funtastic Again.
Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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