BALTIMORE, 05-06-11---Trainer Chris Grove was born and raised in Frederick, MD, about 40 miles from Pimlico Race Course. The 41-year-old is hoping to start Norman Asbjornson in the 136th Preakness® Stakes (Grade I) on Saturday, May 21 at Old Hilltop.
Grove brought the son of 1998 Preakness winner Real Quiet to Pimlico this morning from his Bowie Training Center to work one mile after the renovation break in company with Eddie C.
Norman Asbjornson, with regular rider Julian Pimentel aboard, broke off behind the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (Grade III) candidate but caught his older rival before the four-furlong mark and stopped the clock in a solid 1:40 flat with fractions of :13, :24.80, :37, :49, 1:01.40, 1:13.40 and 1:26.80, according to clocker Mark Euga.
“The final time of 1:40 is the best time he has ever had at the mile,” said Grove, Maryland’s leading trainer in 2010. “It appears that he got hold of the track and got the stamina boosting work that we needed. I will probably come back next Friday or Saturday to put a five-eighths or three-quarters work into him. ”
Norman Asbjornson had a troubled trip in the Grade I Wood Memorial in his last start April 9 at Aqueduct but finished fourth, only 4 ½ lengths behind winner Toby’s Corner. The colt broke poorly from the gate and was shuffled back before rallying for a decent effort.
“It was unfortunate but the trouble could end up being a blessing in disguise,” Pimentel said. “Chris thought he was a one-dimensional speedster who didn’t want dirt kicked in his face. In the Wood, he showed that he didn’t mind being in traffic. He is doing well. Hopefully we get into the Preakness and get lucky.”
Norman Asbjornson finished off the board in his first three outings before breaking his maiden at Penn National in December. The colt followed that win with an allowance score at Parx Racing in January before the big effort in the Gotham Stakes (Grade III) where he finished second behind Stay Thirsty at odds of 47-1.
“He’s really come around,” said Grove, the son of former rider and current Maryland steward Phil Grove. “I liked him the minute he came into the barn but the owners told me after the second race that I could drop him into a maiden claimer but I thought when we stretched him out we would see a different horse and that is what happened. We have seen a different horse,”
Grove has won graded stakes races with Silmaril, Sweet Goodbye and Greenspring but his best Grade I effort was a second with Deer Run in the 2002 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.
“I have a feeling we will be extremely excited the week leading into the Preakness,” added Grove.
MARYLAND THOROUGHBRED PLACEMENT AND RESCUE NEWS
In April 2011, Maryland Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc., (TPR) was pleased to accept a generous donation from Gulfstream Park’s Thoroughbred After-Care Program. TPR like the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After-Care Program is a non-profit organization dedicated for finding new homes/ new “jobs” for race horses retiring from the track as well as rescuing horses being sent to slaughter.
TPR’s president Kim Clark said, “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this donation. Every bit of money donated is used to help our wonderful horses secure a bright future. This gift is a huge help. We hope that Maryland Thoroughbred Associations will be inspired by Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After-Care Programs generosity!”
To date TPR has “rehomed” nearly 300 horses in only the past two years. Ms. Clark, a former exercise rider and trainer at Pimlico, is also an active advocate for the local racetracks. In addition to retraining off-the-track Thoroughbreds and responding to a myriad of phone calls and emails at her Upper Marlboro home, Leighton Farm, she is deeply involved in helping to revitalize horse racing in Maryland.
For more information about Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc. log onto www.goodhorse.org or call 301-579-6898.