Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Michael Cloonan and Tim Thornton’s Blame Debbie, a Grade 3 winner in 2020 unraced in 6 ½ months, is scheduled to make her seasonal debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Searching at Pimlico Race Course.
The 11th running of the 1 ½-mile Searching for fillies and mares 3 and up is among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses and one of four scheduled for the grass on a 10-race program. First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
Other grass stakes are the $100,000 Prince George’s County at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, $100,000 Stormy Blues for sophomore fillies and $75,000 Ben’s Cat for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up, both sprinting five furlongs.
The lone dirt stakes, the $100,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and up, is part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series and features undefeated Chub Wagon facing off against Anna’s Bandit, Hello Beautiful and Dontletsweetfoolya, who have combined to win 29 races and 18 stakes.
Blame Debbie is trained by Graham Motion, who won a division of the Searching in 2000 with Confessional. The race returned to the stakes calendar in 2019 but was not run in 2020 when the schedule was altered amid the coronavirus pandemic.
By Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame, Blame Debbie crossed the wire first in three consecutive races last year but was disqualified to third for interference in a Kentucky Downs allowance in September. She followed up with back-to-back wins at Keeneland in a 1 1/8-mile allowance and the 1 ½-mile Dowager (G3), the latter going gate-to-wire and holding on by a head.
Blame Debbie has not run since finishing fifth by less than three lengths in the 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet Handicap (G3) Nov. 26 at Del Mar, a race where she encountered trouble.
“She really had a good year last year. I’d say the [Dowager] was a bit of a surprise because it was a huge step for her,” Motion said. “I probably ran her back a little quick when we went out to California, and then we gave her a little break after that.”
Blame Debbie has been working steadily over the all-weather surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. for her comeback. She has two wins and two thirds since being stretched out and switched to the turf, the Dowager victory being her only previous try at the distance.
“Grass and more distance seem to be a good combination for her,” Motion said. “It’s a little bit of a gamble going a mile and a half first time back, but it seemed like a good opportunity for her and I didn’t want to pass up on it. I think she’s done enough.”
Victor Carrasco gets the assignment on Blame Debbie from Post 5 in a field of eight.
Also racing for the first time this year is Dr. Catherine Wills’ homebred Luck Money, a stakes-winning daughter of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner and two-time champion Lookin At Lucky that has not raced since running sixth by 4 ½ lengths in the 1 ¼-mile American Oaks (G1) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
“We brought her out to California and she didn’t have a great trip. It didn’t work out as well as I would have expected, but she had been very consistent before that running in all kinds of ground – firm, soft – so it doesn’t seem like she needs a special type of grass,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “She’s coming back so going a mile and a half off the layoff is kind of a tough task, but we’ll give her a race and take it from there.”
Prior to her graded debut in the American Oaks, Luck Money won an open 1 1/8-mile allowance and the 1 ½-mile Zagora at Belmont Park 29 days apart in October. Like Blame Debbie, her stakes win is Lucky Money’s only previous attempt at the distance.
“She likes the distance but there’s not too many spots to bring them back so I thought the timing was pretty good,” Delacour said. “We went to California mainly to get some black type in a Grade 1 because that would have been huge for her page, and that was the last Grade 1 of the year for straight 3-year-old fillies and it was going a mile and a quarter, so everything was lined up there. Unfortunately, for some reason our jock took back and started fighting with her and she never made up any ground. But, I think she’s legit with that type of fillies.”
Mychel Sanchez is named on Luck Money from Post 7.
Coming in from New York are the trio of Beautiful Lover, Crystalle and Whatdoesasharksay. Gary Barber’s Crystalle won the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga and was second in the Miss Grillo (G2) in 2019 and won a 1 7/16 optional claiming allowance on the grass in her 2021 debut Jan. 14 at Gulfstream Park after going winless in three 2020 starts.
Moyglare Stud Farm, Ltd.’s Beautiful Lover is a Florida-bred daughter of Arch that won the 2019 Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park in her stakes debut and has run second or third four times in seven subsequent attempts, including runner-up finishes last year in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, Hillsborough (G2) and Matchmaker (G3). She ended 2020 running third to Matchmaker winner Nay Lady Nay in the All Along at Laurel Park.
Burning Daylight Farms, Inc.’s Whatdoesasharksay is entered to make her 15th career start and first in a stakes in the Searching. The 5-year-old daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Animal Kingdom was fifth, beaten 2 ½ lengths, in a 1 ¼-mile allowance over a good Belmont turf May 7.
Scatrattleandroll, unraced since winning a second-level optional claiming allowance win going a mile on the main track at Penn National March 17 and winless in four previous tries on turf, and Maryland-breds Breviary and Proper Storm round out the field.