Maker Hoping G1 Winner Atone Serves Up Victory in Dinner Party (G3)

Maker Hoping G1 Winner Atone Serves Up Victory in Dinner Party (G3)

$500K Stakes Dating to 1870 Honors Gathering that Led to Building Pimlico
First Leg of $2.5 Million Bonus Linking Races at Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park

LAUREL, MD – In Saturday’s $500,000 Dinner Party (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course, the 7-year-old horse Atone seeks his second graded-stakes victory in a career that has seen him earn more than $1.4 million the hard way — a second, third and fourth at a time.

But his first graded-stakes triumph was a biggie: Gulfstream Park’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) last year. Now Atone will try to win for the first time since the Pegasus Turf 10 races ago as one of the horses to beat in the field of 12 older horses running 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The 123rd running of the Dinner Party, for years known as the Dixie, is among nine stakes, five graded, worth $3.3 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program anchored by the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. First race post time is 10:30 a.m. EST.

The Dinner Party is Pimlico’s oldest stakes and the eighth-oldest in the country, debuting in 1870 on the track’s opening card as a two-mile race won by Preakness, for whom Maryland’s most famous race is named. The race was changed from the Dixie back to its original name in 2020. The stakes honors a 1868 dinner party at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that included Maryland Gov. Oden Bowie and led to the building of Pimlico in his home state.

The winner of this year’s Dinner Party is eligible for a $2.5 million bonus from 1/ST Racing to the owner or owners of a horse that can go on to win the $750,000 California Crown John Henry (G2) Sept. 28 at Santa Anita and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) in January 2025 at Gulfstream Park.

Atone is one of three Grade 1 winners in the Dinner Party, the others being Adhamo, winner of the 2022 United Nations and Highland Chief, who took Belmont Park’s Man o’War two years ago in his second U.S. start after campaigning in England.

Owner Three Diamonds Farm purchased Atone for $130,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s 2021 horses of racing age auction. The gelded son of Into Mischief has won four races overall for Three Diamonds, including three allowance races. But he also has 10 top-four finishes in graded-stakes, including a runner-up effort at 8-1 odds in the Kentucky Cup Classic (G3) over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface in his last start.

Trainer Mike Maker, who won the 2021 Dinner Party with Somelikeithotbrown, said that’s turf racing: Sometimes you get the trip and sometimes you don’t, so appreciate collecting checks.

“Like at Kentucky Downs last year,” Maker said of Atone’s fourth-place finish by a total of a length in the $2 million Mint Millions Mile (G3). “He got stuck behind horses and by the time he got out, it was too late. He’s run some good races; he just didn’t quite get there.”

Atone will contest the Dinner Party for the third time. He set the pace in last year’s stakes, only to be grudgingly passed by four horses in the final strides to finish fifth by a total of a length. He also set the pace in 2022 before finishing third by a total of 1 1/2 lengths.

Siena Farm and WinStar Farm’s Emmanuel, winner of half his 14 career starts, finished third in Keeneland’s 2022 Blue Grass (G1) to end hopes of a Kentucky Derby (G1) bid. Switched to grass, the Todd Pletcher trainee promptly won Belmont Park’s Pennine Ridge (G2), his first of five graded-stakes scores. He set the pace before weakening to fifth in his last start, Keeneland’s Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) won by the international star Master of the Seas.

Beatbox won New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) and most recently was fourth in the Muniz Memorial (G2) on March 23.

“He’s run really well,” trainer Cherie DeVaux said. “We gave him a little freshening from the Fair Grounds, and this is a good start to get him back.”

Maryland-based trainers are well-represented, including a pair of entries from Graham Motion: Highland Chief and English Bee.

After being well-beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland in 2022, Highland Chief was off 1 1/2 years before returning to Keeneland this spring in the Elkhorn (G2), coming in fifth. English Bee, winner of the 2019 Virginia Derby (G3), has placed in five subsequent graded-stakes and was most recently second to stablemate Datama in the April 20 Henry S. Clark at Laurel Park.

Fair Hill, Md.-based Arnaud Delacour entered multiple Maryland stakes-winner Eons, who was fifth in the Henry Clark in his first start since last September. The Maryland-bred Crabs N Beer takes a big step up for trainer Keri Brion, having won a restricted allowance race at Laurel in his last start.

Shipping in from trainer Phil D’Amato’s California base is the 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding Balnikhov, who most recently rallied from last to finish a close third in his attempt to repeat in Golden Gate Fields’ San Francisco Stakes (G3).

Two-time Preakness-winner Chad Brown entered Adhamo as well as Keeneland allowance winner Running Bee. Others entered Monday for the turf stakes: Kentucky Cup Classic third-place finisher Funtastic Again and Helms Deep, winner of a starter-optional claiming race at Laurel.