No one has any questions about the ability of jockey Craig Perret. And there isn't any reason to doubt his judgment, either.
Perret, who passed up a trip to ride the heavily favored Safely Kept in the DeFrancis Dash at Pimlico last month, chose to leave New York and travel to Pimlico for Sunday's Maryland Million.
He goes home having ridden three winners, including Timely Warning, who upset stablemate Master Speaker in the $200,000 Maryland Classic, the richest race on the million-dollar card.
Perret had stayed in Saratoga on Aug. 18 to ride Housebuster to a victory in the King's Bishop Stakes, and added another win that day when Rhythm surprised in the Travers.
Perret's three victories Sunday at Pimlico earned the lion's share of $400,000 in purses, and he also had four seconds and a third in his five other rides, in races valued at $550,000.
"The top race at Belmont Sunday is the Flower Bowl, which is a $100,000 race," Perret's agent, Roger Sutton, said last week. "So why not try a track with lots of $100,000 races on the same day?"
The time in the Classic was 2:02 1/5 for the 1 1/4 miles. The leaders went the first half-mile in 49 2/5 seconds, and the pace was fine with Perret.
"I was confident most of the way," he said. "I didn't want to go too much in a hurry. At the half-mile pole I was still sitting on him. At the eighth pole, I knew I had it won."
The victory was the first stakes win for Timely Warning. "I'm not surprised he won," trainer Buddy Raines said. "He's bred for the distance."