Jockey Vince Bracciale continued his excellence on turf today, guiding Nassipour, a 5-year-old horse that had not won in nearly three years, to a victory in the $112,000 Dixie Handicap at Pimlico Race Course.
Persian Tiara, last year's winner of the 1 1/2-mile turf event, finished second, nearly two lengths ahead of Pass The Line, the third-place finisher who was disqualified for fouling Computer's Choice and placed fourth.
Nassipour was rated behind the early leaders by Bracciale. "It was a slow pace," he said. "I left him alone early, knowing his history of not winning. I had to go as hard as I could at the end."
The winner's share of $72,800 brought the earnings of Nassipour past the $340,000 mark. His time of 2:27 4/5 over a firm turf course was only two-fifths of a second over the mark set by Fort Marcy in 1970. The winning mutuel was $9.
In an earlier race, The Preakness Prep, Bracciale almost caused jockey Donald Miller, astride Roo Art on the backstrech, to fall.
Bracciale, riding Diamond Rich, was in third position behind Skip Trial and Bold Johu. Passing the six-furlong marker, Diamond Rich ducked in toward the rail, impeding Roo Art. Roo Art managed to regain his stride, finishing second to Skip Trial, owned by Mrs. Ben Cohen, wife of the co-owner of Pimlico.
"I thought Roo Art broke down," said Miller. "I had to wait a sixteenth of a mile before I could ride my mount again. He definitely would have won."
After the Prep, the trainers of Roo Art, Sparrowvon and Skip Trial acknowledged that they intended to run in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. Sonny Hine, trainer of Skip Trial, said, "My colt has shown signs of brilliance. He is lightly raced. His time of 1:42 2/5 puts him right on target for Eternal Prince and Chief's Crown on Saturday."
Counting the Prep trio, the Preakness appears to have a field of eight.