BALTIMORE - 05-13-12 – In the week since Reddam Racing’s I’ll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby, trainer Doug O’Neill has been a gracious celebrity, taking part in many interviews, making appearances and posing for photos. Before his colt went to the track Sunday morning, O’Neill changed roles to a fan, happy to be able to chat with Ron Turcotte, Secretariat’s jockey.
Turcotte was in Maryland for the “Horses in Cinema” festival in Silver Spring and his tour of the Triple Crown races is being filmed for a Canadian documentary. O’Neill and Turcotte met briefly on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs, but they had a much longer conversation at Pimlico.
“Just to hang out here with him and talk shop with him was goose-bump stuff,” O’Neill said. “He was telling us about his ride on Secretariat and how he was last going into the first turn and first coming out of the first turn. We’re going to take some tips that he gave us about how to ride the race here and hopefully be successful in doing it.”
O’Neill and his staff have been busy since they arrived in Baltimore last week. They attended a Baltimore Orioles game - he is scheduled to throw out the first pitch for Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees – participated in the Preakness 5K run Saturday and visited the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie camp on Sunday. O’Neill, who had lunch with Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, was excited about the opportunity to spend some time and have his picture taken with Turcotte in the morning.
“What a thrill to have a legend who is interested in your horse,” O’Neill said. “He’s so supportive, too. He said, ‘I’d love to see another Triple Crown winner.’ To have Triple Crown Ronnie there with us is really a dream. I feel like I’m living some type of out-of-body experience.
“Who would have thought? Only a few months ago, I was with my knucklehead friends at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park and here I am with legendary Ron Turcotte and watching our horse train and get ready to try and take the second leg of the Triple Crown.”
I’ll Have Another went to the track at 8:30 a.m. under his regular exercise rider, Jonny Garcia, and turned in a typically sharp gallop around Pimlico.
“We had a great morning,” O’Neill said. “We came in to an empty feed tub, ice-cold legs and a horse with a lot of energy. We’re very happy with the way things are going so far.”
While I’ll Have Another was getting in his morning exercise, two other Preakness candidates, Zetterholm and Tiger Walk, put in their final breezes for the race. Zetterholm shipped in from New York Saturday and other Preakness runners will be arriving this week.
“The horses are starting to come in now and that’s exciting,” O’Neill said. “I love the whole concept with names on the saddle towels, being able to see your competition and watch them go. Tiger Walk was out there today and he looked great going by us. It’s a race that’s going to be full of talented 3-year-olds. I just love the way our horse is training. He’s got a lot of momentum going into this race.”
I’ll Have Another will go the track Monday morning at 8:30. O’Neill will meet with the media about 30 minutes later.
TIGER WALK – Sagamore Farm’s Tiger Walk was shipped from Kevin Plank’s nearby farm in Glyndon, Md. to Pimlico Race Course Sunday morning for a half-mile workout in preparation for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
The son of Tale of the Cat breezed four furlongs in 47.60 seconds under Horacio Karamanos.
“He was awesome. It was a little bit faster than I wanted, but it was still good,” trainer Ignacio Correas said.
Tiger Walk was equipped with “cheater” blinkers for the work and will wear them for the first time in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Correas is hoping the blinkers will improve his colt’s focus.
“Especially on the turns, he’s been losing ground. It’s like coming into the turn he’s three lengths behind the pace and coming home, it’s like seven or eight lengths, and then he’s closing ground,” Correas said. “So we’re trying to avoid that and hopefully we’ll accomplish that.”
Tiger Walk has raced exclusively in graded stakes this year, all at Aqueduct, finishing third in the Withers (G3) before checking in fourth in both the Gotham (G3) and Wood Memorial (G1).
“Even though he’s been competitive, he still needs to step up,” Correas said. “It’s a tough race, but you cannot win unless you’re in. So, we’re going to try our best and he’s going to try his best too.”
Kent Desormeaux will ride Tiger Walk for the first time Saturday.
ZETTERHOLM – Winter Park Partners’ colt made two trips to the track Sunday morning to start his first full day at Pimlico. The first visit at 6:50 a.m. was for a leisurely tour. The second at 8:30 was for a five-furlong work in 1:01.40.
Exercise rider Mario Madrid was aboard the New York-bred colt, who is in the care of assistant trainer Blake Dutrow, the 20-year-old nephew of trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.
“It was all very basic. It was all good,” Blake Dutrow said. “Everything went very well.”
Zetterholm shipped from Aqueduct to Pimlico Saturday and settled into Stall 40, the space usually reserved in the Pimlico Stakes Barn for the Kentucky Derby winner. The stall was available because Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill opted to use Barn D so he could keep I’ll Have Another, three other runners and stable pony Lava Man together.
Blake Dutrow said the morning exercise program went smoothly.
“We just got him out and jogged him so he could see the track and know what he was going to be facing when he came out,” Dutrow said. “He loved it. He went out, came back to the barn and knew he was going to breeze. He came out and did his thing the right way.”
Zetterholm, a son of Silver Train, is on a three-race winning streak, all against New York-bred company. In his most recent start on April 6 he won the Patsyprospect, a restricted stake at Aqueduct.
CREATIVE CAUSE– Trainer Mike Harrington confirmed Sunday that Heinz Steinmann’s gray colt is headed to the 137th Preakness.
Harrington took Creative Cause back to California after his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, but said he was likely to try the Preakness. After watching the colt for a week, Harrington decided that he was ready for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“At this point in time, I’m definitely coming,” Harrington said. “The only reason I wouldn’t come is if something went awry between now and Wednesday morning, when he gets on the airplane. As of now, we’re coming.”
Harrington sent Creative Cause out for a one-mile jog and then had the exercise rider pick up the pace with a two-minute lick for a mile.
BODEMEISTER/LIAISON –Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Bodemeister galloped a little more than a mile under exercise rider George Alvarez after the renovation break over a sloppy track Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
Earlier, Alvarez partnered Liaison, the sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, through a similar exercise.
Trainer Bob Baffert, a five-time winner of the Preakness, is expected to be on hand at the track Monday morning to oversee the two Grade 1 winners who are considered possible for Saturday’s Preakness.
Bodemeister, owned by Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno, notched his Grade 1 victory in the Arkansas Derby in his start prior to the Kentucky Derby. Liaison, owned by Arnold Zetcher, closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the CashCall Futurity.
COZZETTI –With more than an inch of rain in the Louisville area and more coming down, trainer Dale Romans opted to postpone a work for Cozzetti toward the Preakness and instead sent the colt out for a 1 ½-mile gallop at Churchill under exercise rider Romero Cordache.
“We will see how the track is in the morning and he may work,” said Romans, who won last year’s Preakness with Shackleford.
Owned by the Albaugh Family Stables, Cozzetti will enter the Preakness off a five-week layoff from his fourth-place finish behind Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Two years ago, Romans saddled a colt in the Preakness off a similar layoff: First Dude, who finished second at 23-1, beaten three-quarters of a length by Lookin At Lucky.
Jose Lezcanohas the riding assignment on Cozzetti.
TEETH OF THE DOG – J. W. Singer LLC’s Teeth of the Dog was turned out in a paddock at Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning after breezing five furlongs at the Elkton, Md. facility on Saturday.
The son of Bluegrass Cat has made steady development since debuting at Gulfstream Park with a third-place finish in a six-furlong sprint on Dec. 8. The Michael Matz-trained colt broke his maiden in his third start and first race around two turns at Gulfstream before making the jump to Grade 1 company with a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last time out.
“He just needed some time. He was just a little immature. We started him at three-quarters and that was a little short for him. Once we got him around two turns, and with some more maturity, he was fine,” Matz said. “He’s matured and hopefully he’ll get better as he gets older.”
Joe Bravo has the call to ride Teeth of the Dog Saturday.
HANSEN –Sloppy track conditions were not limited to Churchill Downs on Sunday morning as a few miles away at the Trackside Training Center, Hansen encountered a similar scenario for his morning gallop of 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.
“It’s about the same over here,” trainer Mike Maker said after the colt’s morning activity.
Owned by Dr. Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing, Hansen remains a possible candidate for the Preakness. Hansen finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby.
HIERRO/ISN’T HE CLEVER – Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Hierro, winner of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (G3) in his most recent start, and J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn’t He Clever, unraced since an eighth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1), galloped at Churchill Sunday morning.
Exercise rider Carlos Rosas partnered both of the Steve Asmussen trainees.
Both Preakness possibles may work Monday.
OPTIMIZER – Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer, 11th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), galloped early Sunday morning under exercise rider Joel Cano.
The D. Wayne Lukas trainee is scheduled to van to Pimlico on Tuesday. Corey Nakatani has the Preakness riding assignment.
PRETENSION – Kidwells Petite Stable’s Pretension galloped 1 ½ miles at Bowie Training Center Sunday morning.
“We let him gallop out a little bit at the end just to open up his lungs a little,” said trainer Chris Grove, whose colt captured the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico on May 5.
Pretension’s status for the Preakness Stakes has yet to be determined.
GUYANA STAR DWEEJ– Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal remained hopeful that his son of Eddington will make the 14-horse field, which would give the New York-based trainer his second consecutive Preakness starter. His runner, Isn’t He Perfect, finished ninth last year in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“We’ll see what happens,” Shivmangal said following the first race at Belmont on Mother’s Day. “I’m just waiting to see what’s going on there (Pimlico) by Wednesday.”
Shivmangal said his colt walked the shedrow Sunday and “might work Tuesday or Wednesday” in preparation for the Preakness. Guyana Star Dweej has only a maiden win from nine career starts, that coming two races back at Aqueduct. The Preakness would be the colt’s stakes debut.
BRIMSTONE ISLAND-- Owner/trainer William Campbell said he’s “50-50” to be in the field on Saturday for the 137th Preakness. The runner-up in the recent Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico is also being considered for a $50,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the undercard.
“He’s doing really good,” Campbell said Sunday after the son of Tiznow walked the shedrow at Bowie. “I don’t really know that even if he did get in it if I’d want to try the Preakness just for the simple fact that those horses are the best horses in the country. I don’t know if my little horse is quite that caliber.”
Brimstone Island was a fast-closing second to Pretension in the Canonero II and has won four of 10 career starts with three seconds and a third. He was racing in cheaper company until Campbell claimed him for $16,000 out of an 11 ¼-length victory at Laurel in February. Campbell has run him in four ungraded stakes since then, still seeking his first added-money victory.