BALTIMORE,MD 05-07-09---The story continues to develop as the field for the 134th Preakness® Stakes continues to take shape. The $1 million classic is the headline event of a 13-race card at historic Pimlico Race Course next Saturday, May 16.
Trainer Larry Jones said he will ship Friesan Fire, the Kentucky Derby favorite, to Pimlico Monday, May 11 with plans to work the Louisiana Derby (Grade II) winner five-furlongs at Old Hilltop on Tuesday morning then decide if the son of A.P. Indy will run in the Preakness. The colt suffered cuts in his left front foot while getting bumped shortly after the start of the “Run for the Roses”.
“He is healing up very quickly,” Jones said. “He has gone back to the track and is doing well. If he works well and the foot continues to do well we plan on running. It is probably healing faster than I expected but not any faster than I was hoping for.”
Jones will also be bringing four horses for stakes races on Preakness weekend: Payton D’Oro (Grade II Black-Eyed Susan), Tammy’s Victress (Grade II Allaire duPont Distaff), On The Menu (Grade III Miss Preakness) and Shytoe Lafeet (Grade III Gallorette).
At Pimlico this morning (6:30), Big Drama jogged two miles the wrong way under exercise rider and assistant trainer Celia Fawkes. A winner of five-of-seven races, including four stakes races as a two-year-old, the son of Montbrook set a track record for seven-furlongs at Gulfstream Park in the Grade II Swale Stakes, but was disqualified and placed second for jockey interference.
“We have been fortunate enough to have some pretty decent horses with us,” said Celia Fawkes. “We had Take The Tour, who won a Grade I and Forty One Carats, who set two track records and still holds a track record going three-quarters. But this is a different ballgame. How many three-year-olds make it this far?”
Big Drama is expected to breeze Monday morning. John Velazquez has accepted the mount from trainer David Fawkes.
“He is a competitive horse,” added Celia Fawkes. “He likes competition. He’s funny in the morning. Half the reason why I like to train him when its quiet is that he hunts them down. He’ll clock a horse and take them on and head on to the next one. He can get aggressive but he is very focused in the afternoon. He has made just shy of $900,000 and he certainly didn’t do that without any talent.”
Edgar Prado has been named to ride Take the Points for Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher. Prado won 24 riding titles at the major Maryland tracks during the 1990’s but he has yet to hoist the Woodlawn Vase in Maryland’s signature race in 11 tries. Take the Points has two wins in six career starts, both with Prado aboard, including an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream Park on January 31. Pletcher indicated the son of Even the Score will breeze either Saturday or Sunday at Belmont Park in his final prep for the Preakness.
In Kentucky, Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick’s new purchase Rachel Alexandra began her new life in the care of trainer Steve Asmussen on Thursday morning by galloping once around a sloppy Churchill Downs main track under exercise rider Dominic Terry. The dominating, 20 ¼-length winner of last Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), Rachel Alexandra was sold by the L and M Partners of Dolphus Morrison and Michael Lauffer on Wednesday. Rachel Alexandra was transferred from trainer Hal Wiggins’ barn to Asmussen’s at 5:15 Thursday morning.
Jess Jackson, who campaigned two-time Horse of the Year and 2007 Preakness winner Curlin under his Stonestreet Stables colors, was asked what he thought of the latest addition to his stable after her morning exercise.
“She is a graceful athlete; she moves like a ballerina and has the size of some of the colts,” Jackson said. “I am looking forward to seeing her compete.”
Jackson was asked when the “ballerina” might run next.
“The ink is not even dry yet,” Jackson said. “The only decision was to bring her to Steve’s barn. No decision has been made on any race or a rider. Basically the same team is in place as we had with Curlin, and like Curlin, we will let her decide when she runs and where she runs.”
Asmussen, who saddled Curlin to his Preakness victory, indicated that like most of his runners nine to 10 days after a race, Rachel Alexandra would have her first recorded workout on Sunday or Monday.
Pimlico was contacted by a representative of Stonestreet Stable on Tuesday inquiring about a supplement for an unspecified horse but has not heard from the camp since. Rachel Alexandra, who was not nominated to the Triple Crown, would have to be supplemented into the Preakness. She is not nominated to the Triple Crown and could only get into the middle jewel of the Triple Crown if less than 14 horses are entered and her connections pay a $100,000 supplementary nomination fee.
If she runs, Rachel Alexandra would be the first Oaks winner ever to run in the Preakness. Fifty-two fillies have competed in the Preakness with four crossing the finish line first: Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915) and Nellie Morse (1924). The most recent filly to run in the middle jewel was Excellent Meeting ten years ago.
Kentucky Derby 135 winner Mine That Bird galloped two times around the main track at Churchill Downs on Thursday morning before the renovation break with exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up. Trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. expressed satisfaction with the morning activity and remains on track to bring Mine That Bird to Pimlico on Tuesday. Pimlico has arranged a police escort into Pimlico from Interstate 70 prior to the Baltimore Beltway.
“He is doing good and I am surprised how he has bounced back because he had to run hard,” Woolley said. “But he is pretty easy on himself and doesn’t pound the ground.”
But the overriding issue Thursday morning was the possibility that Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra could be supplemented to the Preakness and Woolley could possibly lose the services of jockey Calvin Borel, who swept the Oaks and Derby last weekend.
“I hope they go to the Acorn (on June 6 at Belmont Park) with that mare,” Woolley said. “I told people that day that I was glad she was not in the Derby.”
Woolley was bracing for the prospect of maybe losing his rider.
“It’s a possibility; it could happen,” Woolley said. “But I don’t think I will have a hard time finding a rider if it happens.”
Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider George Alvarez up. Trainer Bob Baffert is scheduled to return to Louisville Saturday night and Pioneerof the Nile is tentatively slated to work Monday before shipping to Maryland on Wednesday if Baffert decides on a Preakness bid.
Papa Clem galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break under exercise rider Mundo Gonzalez. The fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher is scheduled to gallop again Friday and will leave for Pimlico Saturday. Trainer Gary Stute said the son of Smart Strike would work five-furlongs Tuesday morning at Old Hilltop.
Owner/trainer Tom McCarthy was happy with the mile and a half morning gallop from General Quarters before the renovation break, but he had a question for a bystander as exercise rider Julie Sheets brought the colt off the track.
“What are they doing with that filly?” McCarthy asked, referring to Rachel Alexandra.
Rachel Alexandra could be supplemented to the Preakness, but McCarthy is planning to head to Baltimore on Tuesday.
“I would hate not to go and have her not get in,” McCarthy said. “I went back and looked over the Oaks field and it didn’t look like she was facing the quality of competition that she will face in the Preakness.”
McCarthy plans to gallop General Quarters the next five days, including next Tuesday before vanning to Baltimore.
“I’d like to train here that morning if at all possible and then be able to jog Wednesday morning at Pimlico to allow him to get a feel for the track,” McCarthy said.
Julien Leparoux, who was aboard in Kentucky Derby 135 in which General Quarters finished 10th, retains the mount for the Preakness.
Flying Private galloped shortly after the track opened Thursday morning at Churchill Downs with Taylor Carty up. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he likely would name a rider for Flying Private on Friday. The Hall of Famer has saddled a record 32 Preakness starters, with five victories.
Asked about the prospect of facing Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, Lukas said: “I don’t like the idea at all. I’d like to run against the third-place finisher in the fifth at Beulah!”
Terrain galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break with exercise rider Jimmy Valdez up. Trainer Al Stall Jr. plans to work Terrain on Saturday or Sunday.
“Looks like Sunday may be the work day,” Stall said as he monitored a Weather Channel forecast that called for rain the next three days in Louisville. “But we are in no rush. We have the luxury of time with five weeks (between the Toyota Blue Grass and the Preakness).”
Trainer Dale Romans sent undefeated Hull out for a gallop after the renovation break. Asked if the presence of the speedy Rachel Alexandra might alter his Preakness plans for Hull, Romans said, “She might.” Hull is scheduled to work five furlongs on Saturday. The Derby Trial winner is expected to ship to Pimlico Wednesday, May 13.
In New Jersey Musket Man, who finished third in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is scheduled to breeze three-furlongs for trainer Derek Ryan on Tuesday. The Illinois Derby (Grade II) and Tampa Bay Derby (Grade III) winner, who has never finished off the board in seven lifetime starts, will ship to Pimlico late next week.
Others still considering the middle jewel are Tone It Down and Conservative.
Laurel Park-based Tone It Down, who finished third in last Saturday’s Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, is two-for-six lifetime.
“We’re going to have a meeting tonight and right now we’re kicking around the idea of the Preakness, but I guess you could say at this point in time we’re still on the fence”, trainer William Komlo said. “We want to discuss all the options as well as who would ride the horse if we decide to run in the Preakness.”
In New York, Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey told Pimlico stakes coordinator Coley Blind the status of Conservative, who was second in the Grade II Lexington Stakes on April 18, is “up in the air”. The son of Unbridled’s Song has finished in the money in all four starts during his three-year-old campaign.
Agent Jamie McCalmont informed Pimlico Director of Horsemen’s Relations Phoebe Hayes that European Invader Sky Gate is no longer considered for the Preakness.
|CONFIRMED STARTERS||LAST RACE||SCHEDULED ARRIVAL|
|Mine That Bird||Won Kentucky Derby||5/12|
|Musket Man||3rd, Kentucky Derby||TBA|
|Papa Clem||4th, Kentucky Derby||5/9|
|General Quarters||10th, Kentucky Derby||5/12|
|Flying Private||19th, Kentucky Derby||5/12|
|Big Drama||2nd, Swale||5/6|
|Hull||Won Derby Trial||5/13|
|Take the Points||4th, Santa Anita Derby||TBA|
|Terrain||4th, Blue Grass||5/13|
|PROBABLE STARTERS||LAST RACE||SCHEDULED ARRIVAL|
|Pioneerof the Nile||2nd, Kentucky Derby||5/13|
|Friesan Fire||18th, Kentucky Derby||5/11|
|POSSIBLE STARTERS||LAST RACE||SCHEDULED ARRIVAL|
|Conservative||2nd, Lexington Stakes||TBA|
|Rachel Alexandra||Won Kentucky Oaks||5/13|
|Tone It Down||3rd, Tesio Stakes||TBA|