BALTIMORE, 05-04-10---While it was back to business Tuesday morning for Todd Pletcher, who was at his Belmont Park barn three days after his colt Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby, the field for next Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes® continues to evolve.The $1 million classic is the headline event of the May 15 card at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“I am trying to respond to all of the phone calls, texts and emails,” Pletcher said. “It has been fun but the focus now is moving forward and getting ready for the Preakness. It is not the time to rest on laurels.”
The Derby winner will remain at Churchill Downs until shipping to the Preakness Stakes barn next Wednesday, May 12. Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver walked the shedrow Tuesday morning at Pletcher’s Churchill Downs barn. Coming by to check on the Derby winner was jockey Calvin Borel, who won his third Kentucky Derby in four years on Saturday aboard the son of Maria’s Mon.
“He looks awesome,” Borel said. “I saw him this morning and he was on his toes. He is peaking at the right time.”
Borel said one of the keys to the Derby victory was getting Super Saver to rate off the pace.
“I got him to relax in a 20-horse field,” Borel said. “It should get easier with fewer horses in the next race. He’s calm, cool and collected.”
Super Saver is scheduled to return to the track Wednesday morning to jog. Pletcher is expected to return to Louisville before the end of the week and decide whether Super Saver will work or gallop up to the Preakness.
“I am pleased with the way he is eating and with his energy level,” added Pletcher. “He is versatile and athletic. I have heard a lot about the trip he got and the trouble some of the others got into. My point is that the tactical speed, agility and other qualities he possesses helped Calvin give him a perfect trip. Both deserve credit.”
Pletcher’s other likely Preakness starter, Aikenite, who was second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial on Apr. 24, galloped a mile and a quarter under Kevin Willey after the renovation break and is scheduled to work Sunday.
Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike tuned up for the Preakness with a five-furlong work in 1:00.40 under Borel after the renovation break Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Working in blinkers as is his norm, Hurricane Ike broke off at the half-mile pole and recorded fractions of :12.20, :24.40, :36.40, :48 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
Borel, who rode Hurricane Ike to his victory in the one-mile Derby Trial as well as a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Bay Shore, liked the work.
“It was very good and he galloped out well,” Borel said. “He was a very happy horse the last time I rode him and I thought he was about the same today.”
“My assistant (Lupillo Alferez) told me that he cooled out good and seems to have come out of it in good order,” said trainer John Sadler from Santa Anita.” Our plans are to work him back on Monday and if that goes well then we’ll run him in the Preakness. Robby Albarado will ride him if he runs in the Preakness.”
D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled a record 34 Preakness starters, has informed Pimlico officials that in addition to confirmed starter Dublin, the Hall of Fame conditioner is considering Northern Giant for the middle jewel. The son of Giant’s Causeway finished second in the Grade 2 Lane’s End and third in the Grade 3 Risen Star earlier this year.
The Lukas contingent, which will also include Black-Eyed Susan starter Tidal Pool, will be the first to arrive at Pimlico a week from today. The Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan headlines the May 14 Pimlico card.
Lukas has lifted the Woodlawn Vase five times with Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999). He has had multiple Preakness starters on 10 occasions (1986, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 & 2009).
Dublin, who finished seventh in the Derby, is the only confirmed runner planning to test Super Saver again, though Noble’s Promise, who led at the quarter pole before finishing fifth is possible, according to trainer Kenny McPeek.
“He’s a really good horse,” McPeek said of his star who has finished in the money in seven of nine starts. “He always tries hard. He really tried hard the other day, got a little heavy on him the last part of it. He does deserve one more try and I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
Six other runners who competed in the Derby are under consideration at varying levels but there has not been a final decision on the status of the Nick Zito duo of Ice Box and Jackson Bend, the Bob Baffert pair Lookin At Lucky and Conveyance or of Paddy O’Prado, and Make Music for Me.
“I’ve talked with Mr. LaPenta (Robert LaPenta who owns both Zito entries) and he said the decision is up to me,” Zito said.
Jackson Bend is possible for the Preakness with Ice Box listed as doubtful.
“I am still undecided,” said Alexis Barba, who conditions Make Music for Me, the fourth place finisher Saturday in Louisville. The son of Bernstein is expected to skip the Preakness and head to the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
Potential new shooters include Pleasant Prince, Schoolyard Dreams, Caracortado, Turf Melody, A Little Warm and Bushwhacked.
Pleasant Prince, who was second to Derby runner-up Ice Box in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, will work five-furlongs Sunday at Keeneland for trainer Wesley Ward.
“The good thing about him is that unlike Ice Box who seems to settle way, way back and make one big run, he can lay close,” Ward said. “In the Preakness you sort have to be a little bit in contention and he seems to run that way. Hopefully everything works out pace wise where we’re in a good spot.”
Schoolyard Dreams will put in his final Preakness work either Wednesday or Thursday at Monmouth Park for trainer Derek Ryan. The son of Stephen Got Even finished ahead of Super Saver in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby before a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.
Caracortado will work seven-eighths at Santa Anita Park for trainer Mike Machowsky. The son of Cat Dreams won the first five races of his career, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He finished a troubled fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on Apr. 3.
“He’s going great right now so I’m really happy with how everything is going,” said Machowsky, who has not been to Pimlico since winning the Grade 1 Pimlico Special with Southern Image six years ago. I’m just hoping everything goes well once I get into the race. It’s kind of confusing criteria with who gets in, and who doesn’t, but he’s doing great and if I’m going to take my shot at these horses now is the time. He runs really well fresh and everything seems to be coming together.”
Graham Motion has put on hold a scheduled weekend work at Pimlico for Turf Melody. The trainer is now considering the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park this Saturday.
“At this point we’re on the fence with the Preakness,” Motion said. “There’s a 50-50 chance. We’re going to wait and see who confirms from the Derby and how the field develops.”
A Little Warm, who was second in both Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and Grade 2 Lexington runner-up Bushwhacked are battling high temperatures, according to trainers Tony Dutrow and Jonathan Sheppard respectively. Both have missed three days of training.
The Preakness is limited to 14 starters. The post position draw will be held at Pimlico next Wednesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. and televised live on HRTV. If more than 14 starters are properly nominated, the starters will be determined with the first seven horses given preference by the highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes. The next four starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all “non-restricted stakes,” which means those stakes whose conditions contain no restrictions other than age or sex. The remaining three starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all races.
NEARLY 400 HORSES NOMINATED TO PREAKNESS WEEK STAKES
While the Preakness is rightfully the centerpiece of the Pimlico spring meeting, fourteen other stakes (six graded) will provide a weekend full of excitement for racing fans. A total of 397 horses were nominated to those added money races.
The $175,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Grade II) tops the May 14 card that features six other stakes races. Twenty-six three-year-old fillies were nominated to the Black-Eyed Susan. Twenty-eight fillies were nominated to the $70,000 Miss Preakness Stakes. Thirty-four horses were nominated to the $70,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint. Thirty-three female turf specialists were nominated to the $70,000 The Very One Stakes, while twenty-eight were nominated to the $70,000 Skipat Stakes. Twenty-three three-year-old fillies were nominated to the $70,000 Hilltop Stakes and another twenty-four to the $25,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for Maryland-breds.
The May 15 undercard features seven added money races, including five graded. Twenty-eight top grass specialists were entered in the $200,000 Dixie Stakes (Grade II). The $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (Grade III) features thirty-five nominations. Twenty-five fillies and mares were nominated to the $100,000 Gallorette Handicap (Grade III). Thirty-three horses were nominated to the William Donald Schaefer (Grade III). Twenty-five three-year-old sprinters were nominated to the $100,000 Chick Lang (Grade III). Twenty-nine turf specialists were nominated to the $70,000 James Murphy. There were twenty-six horses on the list for the $25,000 Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap.