By Christina Bossinakis
WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc.'s Fearless (Ghostzapper) will attempt to give newly elected Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher his third GIII Pimlico Special S. victory after winning previously in successive years with Revolutionary (2014) and Commissioner (2015). Victorious in the GII Gulfstream Park Mile Feb. 27 in his first start in eight months, the 5-year-old rallied to be second by a half-length to Silver State in the 1 1/8-mile GII Oaklawn H. Apr. 17.
“[He's doing] very good,” Pletcher said. “He was very good in his first start and just missed in his second. He seems to be in good form.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has the assignment from Post 2.
Trainer Mike Maker is represented by a pair of runners with Michael Dubb, Steve Hornstock, Bethlehem Stables and Nice Guys Stables' Last Judgment (Congrats) and Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher's Treasure Trove (Tapizar). Last Judgment has two wins from four starts this year, both in Florida-in the nine-furlong Sunshine Classic Jan. 16 at Gulfstream and the GIII Challenger S. over 8 1/2-furlongs at Tampa Mar. 6. Most recently he was second after setting the pace in the GIII Ghostzapper S. at the Hallandale oval Mar. 27.
A $40,000 claim at Indiana last fall, Treasure Trove is winless in five tries since, including a last-out 3/4-length defeat when fifth in Keeneland's 1 1/8-mile GIII Ben Ali S. Apr. 10. Prior to that, the chestnut was fourth by 2 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/2-mile Temperence Hill S. Oaklawn Mar. 13.
“We should be well-represented there,” Maker said. “Treasure Trove got beat maybe 3/4 of a length in the Ben Ali and ran last, had a wide trip..He ran fourth in the mile-and-a-half at Oaklawn, got beat a couple of lengths. The race before in an allowance race there, he came up the rail and had to take up a little and wait and just got beat.”
Jose Ortiz will ride Last Judgment from outside Post 11, while Luis Saez has the call on Treasure Trove from gate nine.
George Hall and BLX Thoroughbreds Corp.'s Max Player (Honor Code), a one time Classic contender, returns off a frsutrating 11th in the $20-million Saudi Cup Feb. 20. The 4-year-old is trained by Steve Asmussen, who won the 2019 renewal of the Pimlico Special with Tenfold.
Winner of the GIII Withers S. for Linda Rice, Max Player subsequently ran third in both the GI Belmont S. and GI Travers S. Making his first start for Asmussen, he finished fifth in a delayed edition of the GI Kentucky Derby before finishing fifth in the GI Preakness S.
“Physically, he's as good as he's ever been,” said Asmussen's assistant, Scott Blasi. “His works have been solid. It should be a good spot for him. And, the Special has been good to us.”
Breaking from Post 5, the colt will be accompanied by Ricardo Santana Jr.