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Pletcher Happy With The Added Attention Leading Into Preakness
Castellano To Ride Aikenite In Middle Jewel
Nobel's Promise & Conveyance Officially Out But The May 15 Classic Could Still Have A Full Field
BALTIMORE,MD 05-07-10---The two weeks in-between the runnings of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes bring plenty of local and national attention to the thoroughbred racing industry.For winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who conditions 175 horses, it has meant more interviews than usual.
According to Pletcher publicist Kelly Wietsma, Pletcher did extended interviews with NBC Sports, USA Today, WNBC-TV, MSG Network and took part in a NTRA National teleconference, in addition to his daily 10 a.m. conversations with the Pimlico communications department.
“There’s a lot to do but I am happy to do it,” said Pletcher from his Belmont Park barn this morning. “We’ve had a lot of inquires and tried to accommodate everything. I am happy to be in the situation. Everything is going well.”
Next up for Pletcher is a flight from New York to Louisville where the conditioner will oversee the final Preakness preparations for Derby winner Super Saver and stablemate Aikenite.
This morning at Churchill Downs, Super Saver galloped a mile and a sixteenth, while Aikenite galloped 1 3/8 miles. The Derby Trial runner-up is scheduled to work five furlongs in company Sunday morning.
“I’m going to come back to New York Monday night and plan to breeze Quality Road on Tuesday, to prepare him for the Met Mile,” added Pletcher. “Then I’ll be in Baltimore early Wednesday afternoon when Super Saver gets there.”
Pletcher will be the first trainer of a Derby winner to saddle that horse and another runner in the same Preakness since D. Wayne Lukas saddled Charismatic, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Cat Thief in the 1999.
This afternoon, Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell, who owns Aikenite, announced Javier Castellano, who rode Bernardini to victory in the 2006 Preakness, will have the mount on the son of Yes It’s True.
“Javier has won the Preakness before and is one of the leading riders in the country,” Campbell said. “Our colt’s running style is to take back and make one run, and Javier is most effective on that type of horse.”
Campbell captured the 1990 Preakness Stakes with Summer Squall.
“This is the 20th anniversary,” added Campbell. “We hope this is a good omen.”
Lukas, who has raised the Woodlawn Vase five times after Preakness wins, is expected to saddle multiple Preakness starters for the 11th time in Dublin and Northern Giant. Each galloped a mile and a half at Churchill this morning.
Lukas said that both colts would work Sunday or Monday and that Terry Thompson would be back aboard Dublin after finishing seventh on the colt in the Kentucky Derby. Lukas has not confirmed a rider for Northern Giant.
Northern Giant has not run since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 10. In the interim, Northern Giant has had three works at Churchill Downs with the most recent being a five-furlong move in 1:02 over a fast track on Tuesday. It was the 19th fastest of 39 at the distance.
“He is a fresh horse and he has been training well,” Lukas said of Northern Giant. “He ran a couple of good races in New Orleans and was second in the (Grade 2) Lane’s End, so he merits a chance.”
The Lukas contingent, which will also include Black-Eyed Susan starter Tidal Pool, is expected to be the first to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn on Tuesday, May 11.
The $1 million Preakness has attracted double digit numbers 15 times in the last 18 years, including a full field of 14 in 2005.
Trainer Bob Baffert reduced his list of Preakness prospects in half Friday morning by declaring Conveyance out of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
“He’s not going,” Baffert said of the Kentucky Derby pacesetter who finished 15th in the mile and a quarter classic.
Lookin At Lucky, the Kentucky Derby favorite who finished sixth behind Super Saver, galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break under Peter Hutton.
“I am just taking it day by day with him,” said Baffert, who has won the Preakness four times. “He is still 51 percent (to go).”
Two other Derby starters remain probable for the Preakness. A final decision on Jackson Bend will be made Monday by trainer Nick Zito, while Paddy O’Prado is confirmed.
Dale Romans, conditioner of Paddy O’Prado, who was third in last Saturday’s Run for the Roses, will also start First Dude, who finished third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 10 in his most recent start. A pair of former Maryland riding stars will ride for Romans. Two-time Preakness-winning rider Kent Desormeaux has the assignment on Paddy O’Prado, while Ramon Dominguez has the call on First Dude, who is scheduled to work Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
Eight new shooters are expected to take on Super Saver. In addition to Aikenite, First Dude and Northern Giant, Pimlico officials expect A Little Warm, Caracortado, Hurricane Ike, Pleasant Prince and Schoolyard Dreams.
Winner of the Grade 3 Derby Trial on April 24 at Churchill Downs, Hurricane Ike is scheduled to work seven furlongs on Monday. The son of Graeme Hall is trained by John Sadler, who never has started a horse in the Preakness. Robby Albarado, who won the 2007 Preakness with Curlin, picks up the mount. Calvin Borel was aboard for the Derby Trial score but he has the assignment on Super Saver.
Caracortado will put in his final Preakness work Saturday morning at Santa Anita Park. The Mike Machowsky trainee won the first five races of his career, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes in mid-February. The gelding has not raced since a fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby.
“We’re really happy with everything right now,” Machowsky said. “He hasn’t run in six weeks so I just want a nice solid work, nothing too spectacular. I have never started a horse in the Triple Crown so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Two other trainers with confidence are Derek Ryan and Wesley Ward.
Ryan, who finished third in the 2009 Preakness with Musket Man, will ship Schoolyard Dreams down from Monmouth Park next Friday, May 14. Thursday morning the son of Stephen Got Even drilled a five furlong bullet, stopping the clock in 59.60 with Eibar Coa, who has secured the Preakness mount.
“With a big field, I just want a good post and a good trip. The horse will do the rest,” Ryan said. “I haven’t had a good trip in one of these bigger races all year. We could use a break in these big races, you know.”
Ward has been upbeat about the chances of Pleasant Prince all week. The Grade 1 Florida Derby runner-up galloped a mile and a half today at Keeneland and is scheduled to work five furlongs Sunday morning with regular rider Julien Leparoux.
“He’s doing as great as a racehorse can do,” Ward said. “He came back to the barn bucking and kicking. We are going to see if we can’t tighten all the screws on down on him on Sunday with that work, evaluate him on Monday and gallop him on Tuesday and put him on a plane on Wednesday.”
Based at Delaware Park, A Little Warm is scheduled to put in his final Preakness work Sunday or Monday, according to trainer Tony Dutrow.
Dutrow could be joined in the Preakness by a horse trained by his younger brother Rick, Yawanna Twist. The lightly raced son of Yonaguska finished second in a pair of Grade 3 races this spring, the Gotham (March 6) and Illinois Derby (April 3). Yawanna Twist worked six furlongs in 1:17.20 on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
“Rick said we are going to see how he works and if all goes well we’ll get on that plane with the rest of them and head on over,” said Jim Riccio of Steel Your Face Stables. “We started late with him so it was tough to get a line on how good he actually is. He has to be 100 percent for us to step up against these other horses.”
Rick Dutrow captured the 2008 Preakness with Big Brown.
Only one other brother duo had Preakness starters the same year: Hirsch and Eugene Jacobs in 1967, with Reason To Hail (fourth) and Favorable Turn (ninth), respectively.
Trainer Kenny McPeek told Pimlico officials this morning that Preakness 135 would not include Noble’s Promise, who finished fifth in the Derby.
“He’s a no go for the Preakness,” McPeek said. “We questioned the distance but he just needs more time and our long range plan will be to run him in the St. James Palace at Royal Ascot. (June 15).”
Make Music for Me remains unlikely.