BALTIMORE,MD 05-02-10---The eyes of the racing world shift from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course as the Triple Crown players set their sights on Baltimore for the 135th running of the Preakness® Stakes on Saturday, May 15.
This morning winning trainer Todd Pletcher informed Pimlico officials, including track president Tom Chuckas, that Super Saver will stay in Kentucky to prepare for the Preakness and will arrive at Pimlico next Wednesday, May 12, the day of the Post Position Draw. Per tradition, Chuckas called Pletcher to congratulate him on Super Saver’s victory and to personally invite him to the Preakness.
The son of Maria’s Mon furnished Pletcher with his first Derby victory. Much had been made of the conditioners 0-for-24 Derby record heading into the race. On top of that, the four-time Eclipse Award winner lost pre-race favorite Eskendereya to injury less than a week before America’s most famous race.
“There were a lot of different emotions,” Pletcher said. “Relief. Excitement. It was extremely rewarding.”
Pletcher, who had three other Derby starters, is likely to have a second Preakness runner in Aikenite. Owned by Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stables, the son of Yes It’s True finished second in a pair of Grade 1 races as a 2-year-old. He is 0-for-4 this year but finished second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial on Apr. 24.
“After the Derby Trial, Mr. Campbell was excited about the way he ran and wanted to take a look at the Preakness,” added Pletcher.
A graduate of the University of Arizona, Pletcher has also become the most successful graduate of Lukas Academy – one of many talented trainers to serve an apprenticeship under Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. The 42 year-old began working for Lukas in 1989 before going out on his own in 1996.
The teacher will try to deny the pupil a shot at Triple Crown glory. Lukas indicated Dublin, the seventh place finisher in yesterday’s Derby, will be Preakness bound. The trainer has saddled a record 34 Preakness starters and is tied for second in wins with five: Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999).
Nick Zito said Derby runner-up Ice Box is “doubtful” for the Preakness after a troubled trip for the Florida Derby winner. The son of Pulpit was steadied early in traffic, steadied when blocked nearing the stretch and steadied at the sixteenth pole before swinging outside and rallying to finish 2 ½ lengths behind the winner.
“I will not make a decision until next week,” Zito said. “But to run the horse off a six-week layoff and to see him have to check three times makes it hard to run back in two weeks and then again three weeks later (Belmont Stakes). If we had won it would have been a different story. You never say never, but it looks doubtful.”
Zito, who is tied for second with 19 Preakness starters, said Jackson Bend, who was 12th in the Derby, is “hopeful” for the Preakness.
Trainer Dale Romans said the Preakness is under consideration for third place finisher Paddy O’Prado.
Bob Baffert , who tasted victory in the Preakness four times from 1997-2002, said a decision regarding betting favorite Lookin At Lucky, who finished sixth Saturday, would be made later in the week.
In addition to Aikenite, connections from seven other runners, who did not compete in the Derby, have contacted Pimlico with interest in the middle jewel. The potential new shooters (in alphabetical order) are A Little Warm (second, Louisiana Derby); Bushwhacked (second, Lexington Stakes); Caracortado (fourth, Santa Anita Derby); Hurricane Ike (Derby Trial winner), Pleasant Prince (third, Derby Trial); Schoolyard Dreams (fourth, Wood Memorial) and Turf Melody (fourth, Illinois Derby).
Trainer Mike Machowsky worked Caracortado five-furlongs Saturday morning at Santa Anita Park. The gelding stopped the clock in 59.40 seconds, the second fastest work at the distance. The son of Cat Dreams won the first five races of his career, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes, but finished third in the Grade 2 San Felipe and fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on Apr. 3 and did not have enough graded earnings to land a spot in the “Run for the Roses”.
“He worked great,” said Machowsky. “He has always run well fresh and probably needed a little break. We spent a little time with him blowing an abscess out of his foot so maybe it will work out for the best. I’ll probably work him seven-eighths Saturday. He could be tough with the way he is training.”
Trainer Graham Motion said a final decision would be made on Turf Melody next weekend after breezing at Pimlico. The son of Maria’s Mon, who won an allowance race last November at Laurel Park, has finished off the board in three starts this year, all Grade 3 races.
Trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer said Blind Luck, who captured the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Friday afternoon, is not under consideration.
“We think that would be bringing her back too quickly,” Hollendorfer said.
The Preakness is limited to 14 starters. Fifteen of the last 18 years have seen double-digit starters.