BALTIMORE – 05-14-11 – Sway Away did not get to run in the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient graded stakes money, and it was beginning to look like a similar fate might befall the son of Afleet Alex for the Preakness Stakes.
However, the defection of Santiva Saturday has cleared the way for Sway Away to be included in the prospective 14-horse field for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico on May 21, barring unforeseen developments.
“Being 21st on the money list for the Kentucky Derby was not very exciting,” said part-owner Philip Lebherz by phone Saturday morning.
Lebherz is excited about getting the chance to run the Jeff Bonde-trained colt in the Preakness and having jockey Garrett Gomez back on Sway Away.
“I think P Val (jockey Patrick Valenzuela) moved too early in the Arkansas Derby and went after The Factor thinking that if he got him, he’d have the race,” Lebherz said. “We hope Garrett can be more patient.”
Gomez rode Sway Away to a second-place finish in the San Vicente (G2) behind The Factor and a sixth-place finish in the Rebel (G2).
“He chipped a knee last summer in the Best Pal (G2) and we had to rush to get to the San Vicente and he was one work short,” Lebherz said. “Jeff has done a great job with him and we feel he is totally where he has to be.”
Sway Away, who will represent an ownership group that includes Lebherz, Batman Stable, Cindy Olsen, Janet Sharp and Glen Wallace, completed his major training for a run in next Saturday’s Preakness with a six-furlong work in 1:13 3/5 over a fast track early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
With exercise rider Keith Davis up, Sway Away clicked off fractions of :13 4/5, :26 4/5, :39, :50 2/5 and 1:02 1/5 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5.
It was the third Churchill Downs work for Sway Away since his fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. He worked six furlongs on April 30 in 1:14 under jockey Brian Hernandez, and last Saturday he worked in 1:11 3/5 under Davis.
“He went too fast with me the last time, but today he relaxed real nice,” Davis said. “The first part of it, we were kind of going at a two-minute lick and I asked him one time in the lane and he really responded for me.”
Miguel Carranza, assistant to Bonde, supervised the move that was accomplished in blinkers.
“We put the blinkers on him for the first time in the Arkansas Derby and they have been on for all of his works here to make him focus better,” Carranza said. “This was a good work.”
Sway Away will walk the next two days, go to the track Tuesday and ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.
ANIMAL KINGDOM – Team Valor International’s Kentucky Derby winner had a quiet morning Saturday at Fair Hill Training Center.
Trainer Graham Motion said the son of Leroidesanimaux jogged a half-mile and galloped a mile with the pony and another horse for company.
Animal Kingdom is scheduled to go to the track at Fair Hill at 9 a.m. each day. Per Graham Motion’s request, TV crews are asked to set up in the vicinity of the clocker’s stand, where he will try to accommodate each request to the best of his ability.
ASTROLOGY/NEHRO – Stonestreet Stable and George Bolton’s Preakness (GI) contender Astrology, winner of the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs and runner-up in the recent Jerome (G2) at Aqueduct, galloped 1 ½ miles under Carlos Rosas early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
The Steve Asmussen-trained son of A.P. Indy worked six furlongs in the company of a stablemate in 1:12.2/5 last Monday and assistant trainer Scott Blasi said the colt would have one more serious training move before departing for Pimlico and the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown next week.
“He had a very strong work the other day and he came out of it well,” Blasi said. “He’ll work Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather.”
Zayat Stable’s Nehro, runner-up to Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, jogged under Rosas on Saturday and remains “possible” for a Preakness bid.
“He came out of the race well, but he’s run three races in six weeks and he delivered for us in each of them,” Blasi said. “Now we’d be asking him to come back in just two weeks. It’ll probably be a game-time decision as to whether we run in the Preakness.”
Blasi said Nehro would also work Monday or Tuesday, with the weather being a determining factor on which day the Mineshaft colt would work.
CONCEALED IDENTITY – The Federico Tesio winner galloped 1 ½ miles under Lacey Gaudet, trainer Eddie Gaudet’s daughter, at Bowie Training Center Saturday morning.
The veteran trainer said he will closely monitor the field size before deciding whether to enter Concealed Identity in the Preakness or the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes on next Saturday’s undercard.
“I’ll see how many horses are in there before I enter (in the Preakness). If there’s 15 in there, I wouldn’t enter if I thought I might scratch,” said Gaudet, who wouldn’t want to exclude a possible starter.
Gaudet said running Concealed Identity in a full field of 14 probably would not be in the best interest of the son of Smarty Jones.
“He’s a colt that I haven’t pressed too hard. He’s been a nice horse and he’s doing very, very well,” he said.
“I know the Preakness is a prestigious race, but you don’t run in it if you don’t think you belong. It’s like climbing a ladder: you take one step at a time.”
The Murphy Stakes is slated to be run at one mile on turf.
Sheldon Russell, who is slated to ride Concealed Identity in either race, finished 14th in Saturday’s “Down the Stretch for SGK” Preakness 5k race on the Pimlico grounds.
DANCE CITY – The Estate of Edward P. Evans’ Dance City galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Obed Perez up.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Dance City is scheduled to work Sunday morning, his third breeze since finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Dance City’s previous two works at Churchill Downs have come over tracks rated as sloppy, and rain is in the forecast for Louisville through Sunday morning.
DIALED IN – Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In galloped 1 ½ miles before the renovation break at Churchill Downs under Stacy Prior as trainer Nick Zito and jockey Julien Leparoux looked on.
“He went very well out there this morning,” Zito said. “All I have to do now is keep him happy.”
FLASHPOINT – Working in company with Pleasant Prince, Peachtree Racing Stable’s colt breezed five furlongs on 1:00 3/5 Saturday morning at Keeneland.
Trainer Wesley Ward used one word - “fantastic” - to describe Flashpoint’s final timed work before the Preakness.
Flashpoint began his career in the care of trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., but was transferred to Ward’s barn in April. He had the fastest work of the day at the distance on May 6 and followed that move with a strong performance under exercise rider Jeffrey Sanchez at 8:30 a.m.
“He started off four or five lengths behind Pleasant Prince, who is a horse that always goes down there in about a minute,” Ward said. “He cruised right up to him and finished with speed to spare. Both horses came out of the work awesome. We’re really excited.”
Pleasant Prince finished 11th in the Preakness last year as Ward’s first runner in the race. He won the Ohio Derby and Oklahoma Derby last year and has been stakes-placed three times.
Flashpoint won his debut at Aqueduct by 6¼ lengths on Jan. 15 and captured the Hutcheson (G2) at Gulfstream Park by 7¼ lengths on Feb. 26. He has not raced since finishing fourth in the Florida Derby on April 3 before changing barns a few weeks later.
“When he got here, it was like any horse – you’re trying to figure them out and getting to know them,” Ward said. “With every day that has gone by, he has taken to the track here at Keeneland. When he first showed up, he was training good, but now he’s eating up the Polytrack here at Keeneland. He’s bouncing on and off the racetrack. Now he’s used to his surroundings and real familiar with the surface to where if the Preakness was run at Keeneland, he’d be double-tough to beat, I’ll tell you that.”
Flashpoint will be flown to Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon. He will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez in the Preakness.
ISN’T HE PERFECT – Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal watched his colt breeze a half-mile Saturday morning at Belmont Park. The son of Pleasantly Perfect, under Jaime Rodriguez, was clocked in :51.
“I was very pleased with the way he worked,” Shivmangal said.
Earlier in the week, Shivmangal expressed an interest in running Isn’t He Perfect and Harlan’s Hello in the Preakness. He entered Isn’t He Perfect in the Peter Pan (G2), being run at Belmont Park today, but scratched in favor of the Preakness. Harlan’s Hello won an allowance/optional claimer at Belmont Park on Friday, paying $43.
Shivmangal said he is planning to ship Isn’t He Perfect to Pimlico Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
KING CONGIE – Trainer Tom Albertrani said the Badge of Silver colt is scheduled to have his final work for the Preakness Sunday morning. Albertrani said that it was possible that the work could be postponed by wet weather.
King Congie, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, will be making his first start since finishing third by a head in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland on April 16.
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE/THE FACTOR – Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude, now looking like a probable Preakness starter, galloped 1 5/8 miles early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs under Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.
Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind said that Baffert’s assistant, Jimmy Barnes, notified him that Midnight Interlude was headed to the Preakness, but that The Factor was not being considered for the race.
Baffert is scheduled to be at Churchill Downs Monday morning to watch Midnight Interlude train. The Santa Anita Derby winner finished 16th in the 19-horse Kentucky Derby.
MR. COMMONS – Trainer John Shirreffs said the Artie Schiller colt came out of his work on Friday in good shape and walked Saturday morning at Hollywood Park.
St. George Farm Racing’s homebred worked seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5 under jockey Victor Espinoza.
MUCHO MACHO MAN – Mucho Macho Man galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Mike Herra on the Belmont Park training track Saturday morning.
Trainer Kathy Ritvo said a decision hasn’t been made yet when Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing’s third-place Kentucky Derby finisher will van to Pimlico.
“I’m not sure yet. We’re going to watch out for the weather. Probably, a guesstimate would be Wednesday or Thursday,” said the South Florida-based trainer, who has a 20-horse division at Belmont Park.
Ritvo, a heart-transplant recipient 2 ½ years ago, is finding daily life at Belmont a lot more serene that it was during Derby week at Churchill Downs, where her story received a flood of media attention.
“It’s been quiet, but I don’t mind either way,” Ritvo said. “But I do like talking about racing, too.”
NORMAN ASBJORNSON – Trainer Chris Grove reported from Bowie Training Center Saturday morning that Norman Asbjornson came out of his workout at Pimlico Friday in “super” condition.
Thomas McClay and Harry Nye’s homebred colt was clocked in 1:02 1/5 for five furlongs under jockey Julian Pimentel during his brief visit to the site of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
The son of Real Quiet finished second in the Gotham (G3) and fourth in the Wood Memorial (G1) in his last two starts, after being a gate scratch in the Whirlaway at Aqueduct in February due to bad behavior.
Grove said Norman Asbjornson will be frequently schooled in the gate during Preakness week.
“We’ve worked and worked and worked with him at the gate, and he just doesn’t seem to get any better about it. But he did make a turn for the better at the gate this week (at Bowie) and started relaxing,” said Grove, whose colt walked the shedrow at Bowie Saturday. “(Thursday) he was really good at the gate. He’s coming around.”
RULER ON ICE – The Preakness Stakes status of Ruler On Ice remained uncertain Saturday.
“No decision,” trainer Kelly Breen said from Monmouth Park.
Ruler On Ice, who finished third in the Sunland Derby, was the beaten favorite in the Federico Tesio Stakes, won by Concealed Identity, at Pimlico last Saturday.
SANTIVA – Tom Walters’ Santiva is no longer under consideration for the Preakness.
“The horse is doing great, but he is not running in the Preakness,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said of the sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby.
SARATOGA RED – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas remains in a holding pattern with his 10th-place Arkansas Derby finisher, who will need further defections to draw into the field.
SHACKLEFORD – Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Faustino Ramos up.