BALTIMORE -- At the eighth pole of Friday's $300,000 Pimlico Special, it was pretty evident trainer Jimmy Jerkens was going to win the Grade 3 race. What was less apparent was whether it would be with 2-5 favorite Shaman Ghost or upstart second choice Dolphus.
Inside the sixteenth pole, it was the class of Shaman Ghost that carried him past his stablemate to win the 47th Pimlico Special by a neck. Dolphus, a half-brother to champion filly Rachel Alexandra, who beat the boys in the Preakness here in 2009, finished second by 7 1/4 lengths over Conquest Windycity, who got third by a nose over Name Changer.
Watershed was fifth, followed by Discreet Lover, Fellowship, Eagle, and Bodhisattva. Noble Bird, last year's Pimlico Special winner, was scratched and will give given a freshening, according to trainer Mark Casse.
Shaman Ghost, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper owned by Frank Stronach (who also owns Pimlico), added the Pimlico Special to a victory in March in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. Last year, Shaman Ghost won the Grade 1 Woodward and Grade 2 Brooklyn at Belmont Park.
For Jerkens, it was a victory made even more special because his father, the late, legendary Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, won this race in 1993 with Devil His Due.
"I always loved this little place," Jerkens said of Pimlico. "I came here a lot when I was working for my dad; we always ran something in all the stakes here. Loved it."
Jerkens was also loving how the race was shaping up at the eighth pole. Dolphus, the 6-1 second choice under Rajiv Maragh, had set an uncontested pace of 23.84 seconds for the quarter, 47.92 for the half-mile, and 1:12.41 for six furlongs.
Shaman Ghost, meanwhile, was in sixth position and kept four wide down the backstretch by Javier Castellano.
"I think that was best for the horse," Castellano said. "He likes to run free; he doesn't like to be in trouble. I had the best horse and I rode him like the best horse in the race."
In mid-stretch, Shaman Ghost moved into second and seemed like he was going to easily go by Dolphus. Dolphus fought back when Shaman Ghost first came to him, but Shaman Ghost edged away in the final 70 yards.
"I was feeling pretty good, I knew one of them was going to win," Jerkens said. "I thought [Shaman Ghost] was going to eventually wear [Dolphus] down, but he came back on him and then galloped out past him."
Shaman Ghost covered the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.55 and returned $2.80.
Maragh was very happy with the effort put in by Dolphus, who was coming in off a second-level allowance win at Aqueduct.
"That's as good as a horse can run without winning, right?" Maragh said. "He ran a winning race, he just got beat at the end by Shaman Ghost. But he put in everything, he kept fighting."
Jerkens said Shaman Ghost would be pointed to the Grade 2, $750,0000 Suburban at Belmont Park on July 8.