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Takeover Target Runs Them Down Late in the $250k Dixie on Preakness Day

Preakness Day

Takeover Target, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., wins the Longines Dixie Stakes at Pimlico.

(Photo by Zoe Metz/Eclipse Sportswire)

Older grass horses got their turn to shine in the $250,000 Dixie Stakes on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard and those lawnmowers did not disappoint. Takeover Target, aided by a powerful ride from jockey Joel Rosario, rallied from last to prevail in a furious three-horse stretch battle with Grade I winners Ring Weekend and Grand Arch.

After racing in the rear of the eight-horse field, Takeover Target was angled out at the top of stretch and with clear sailing was able to run down the two favorites in the shadow of the wire. Ring Weekend was beaten a neck, while Grand Arch was another half-length back in third.

The Dixie was the third graded stakes win for Takeover Target. Last year, the 4-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday won the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and the Hill Prince Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. Takeover Target had lost three previous starts this season, most recently when second in last month’s Danger’s Hour Stakes at Aqueduct.

This was the first time on Takeover Target for Rosario, who was subbing for regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. He may have proved the difference. It was a wonderfully-timed ride and the strength Rosario displayed urging his mount late was a brilliant display of athleticism.

With that said, Ring Weekend and Grand Arch were by no means disgraced given their lengthy layoffs. The former hadn’t faced the starter since winning the Kilroe Mile (G1) back in March 2015, while the latter had been sidelined since running third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Both figure to take a big step forward now having a race under their belt.

As for Takeover Target, he earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure with the Dixie score. It will be interesting to see if Rosario retains the mount, or whether trainer Chad Brown goes back to Ortiz.

Bred in Kentucky by Dorothy A. Matz, Takeover Target is out of the Empire Maker mare Vanquished. He was purchased out of the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale for $175,000. Takeover Target has earned $795,935 for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence while compiling a record of 5-2-0 from 11 starts.

-- Victor Ryan