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May 23, 2008

Student Council and Sweet Vendetta notch Pimlico stakes


Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Student Council and Sweet Vendetta picked up stakes victories at Pimlico Race Course on Friday as part of the Preakness Stakes weekend. The $250,000 Pimlico Special and the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes whetted the appetites for Saturday.

In the Pimlico Special, Student Council, who took the $1 million Pacific Classic last summer, was attempting to stop a four race losing streak since he won the Hawthorne Gold Cup. The 1 3/16 mile race was put back on the Pimlico schedule after a one year break.

Setting the pace was Gottcha Gold, ridden by Chuck Lopez. Racing second was Xchanger followed by Temporary Saint and Ryan's for Real in the seven horse field. Running well off the pace was Student Council and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.

Gottcha Gold led the field up the backstretch and into the far turn. Around the turn for home Gottcha Gold still had the lead as Temporary Saint moved into second with Xchanger in third and Grasshopper in fourth.

Lopez still had Gottcha Gold, the 2-1 co-favorite with Grasshopper, in first coming into the stretch as Student Council began to rally. Student Council caught Gottcha Gold just yards from the wire and posted a neck victory over the five-year-old.

Sir Whimsey finished third followed by Temporary Saint, Grasshopper, Ryan's for Real and Xchanger. A.P. Arrow and Wanderin Boy were scratched.

The time for the Pimlico Special was 1:54.87 on a sloppy track.

"There looked like there'd be a lot of speed in there," said Bridgmohan. "He's such a great horse and he's got such a great stride to him that midway down the backside he grabbed a hold of me and wanted to go. At that point, I had nowhere for him to go. I had to sit there and wait and bide my time and wait a little bit longer. I've been watching races all day. I didn't want to take him out of his game."

Owned by Millennium Farms and trained by Steve Asmussen, Student Council registered his eighth career win in 27 starts. Friday's victory was worth $150,000 to bring his lifetime earnings to more than $1.3 million.

"We were disappointed in the Santa Anita Handicap (sixth-place finish)," said owner Ro Parra. "We thought we were going to win the race. Steve had him ready for this race. I spoke to him just an hour before the race, and he told me to smile in the winner's circle."

Student Council returned $16.40, $6.60 and $4.00. Gottcha Gold paid $4.00 and $3.00, and Sir Whimsey paid $3.40 to show.

In the 84th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for three-year-old fillies, Sweet Vendetta rallied down the stretch to capture the companion race to the Preakness.

Sherine set the pace in the 1 1/8 mile race on a sloppy track. Pressing the pace was local favorite Bsharpsonata, Maren's Meadow and Sherine's entry-mate Pious Ashley.

Up the backstretch Sherine continued on the lead as the other runners vied for position. Around the final turn Sherine was joined on the lead by Pious Ashley and Shes All Eltish.

Shes All Eltish, ridden by Garrett Gomez, took the lead with a furlong to run and seemed on her way to a victory. Sweet Vendetta and jockey Channing Hill moved off the rail down the stretch to catch the leader late.

Sweet Vendetta collared Shes All Eltish with 50 yards to go and posted a two- length win. Seattle Smooth finished third followed by Highest Class, Pious Ashley, Sherine, Maren's Meadow and Bsharpsonata. One Step Ahead was scratched from the race.

The time for the Black-Eyed Susan was 1:49.60.

Sweet Vendetta is trained by Gary Contessa for Team Penney Racing and David Cassidy. The win was worth $120,000. The filly has won three of seven career starts for $206,596.

Sweet Vendetta was making her first start away from Aqueduct where she won two of her previous three starts.

Sweet Vendetta paid $17.40, $8.40 and $5.20. Shes All Eltish paid $4.60 and $3.40, and Seattle Smooth returned $3.40 to show.

The weather forecast for Saturday's Preakness Stakes calls for mostly sunny skies, winds from the west at 10 to 15 mph and a post-time temperature around 70 degrees.

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