SUPER SAVER/AIKENITE/MISSION IMPAZIBLE – Super Saver, WinStar Farm’s Kentucky Derby winner, tuned up for the Preakness Stakes with a three-furlong breeze in :36.60 Monday morning at Churchill Downs.Trainer Todd Pletcher also watched Preakness prospect Mission Impazible breeze three furlongs in :36.40 Monday. Pletcher’s third Preakness horse, Aikenite, walked the morning after his breeze.
Jockey Calvin Borel, who picked up his third Derby win in four years on May 1, was aboard for Super Saver’s work following the renovation break. The move was the fifth-fastest of 29 at the distance. Pletcher said the colt galloped out four furlongs in :49.20 and five-eighths in 1:02.
“He went perfectly and came back in good order,” Pletcher said. “I’m very, very pleased with the way he went.”
Pletcher said that Super Saver passed all the tests Monday.
“I wanted to see how he was getting over the ground and what his energy level looked like and his enthusiasm. All of it was perfect,” Pletcher said. “He went as easy as a horse could go and was getting over the ground great. He seemed very happy and enthusiastic. It was very, very good.”
Borel was also pleased with Super Saver’s work and the progress the colt has made since the Kentucky Derby.
“It was real good – just what we wanted,” said Borel. “He switched leads on key – we’ve been working on that a little bit. It was perfect. You couldn’t ask for better, I don’t think.”
Borel said Super Saver has made great progress since his runner-up finish to Line of David in the Arkansas Derby on April 10. While he had displayed sharp speed early in his career, the colt rated off the pace that day and relaxed so well on Kentucky Derby Day that he settled more than eight lengths off of a fast pace in the mile-and-a-quarter classic. His rider believes that Super Saver’s new versatility will serve him well in Saturday’s Preakness.
“That’s a great feeling. He’s not like a horse like Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up] who’s got to come out the back door. He doesn’t have to be on the lead – if they give it to me, good; if they don’t, no. That’s a big plus – he plays with me. I can do what I want with him.
“Todd did a good job with him – him and his assistant (Mike McCarthy) and exercise rider (Kevin Willey). When I rode him last year as a 2-year-old he was a pretty aggressive colt. He wanted to run pretty early, and now he’s on-command. That’s what you want in these kind of races, because you never know what they’re going to throw at you – there might be a ‘rabbit’ or two, so you want get him to relax and not to be there fighting with them and go from there.”
With the breeze, Mission Impazible remains on course toward the Preakness. Pletcher said the decision on whether to run the colt owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables will be announced Tuesday morning. The breeze was third-fastest of 29. He galloped out a half in :49.60.
“He worked just the way we wanted him to,” Pletcher said. “He went just an easy three-eighths and galloped out an easy half. I talked with the connections and they want to sleep on it overnight, see what he looks like in the morning and make a decision then. He’s 50-50 at this point.”
Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite walked the shedrow a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.40.
“Aikenite is in good order,” Pletcher said. “He came out of his breeze in good shape.”
A LITTLE WARM – The home-bred son of Edward P. Evans’ stakes winner Stormin Fever had his final official blowout Monday morning, but the results of a post-work examination will keep him from joining the Preakness field, according to Spring Hill Farm manager Chris Baker.
“He worked fine, but he just didn’t scope out good,” Baker said Monday from the farm in Virginia. “We’re going to have to withdraw him from consideration from the Preakness. We just have to get him well, and hopefully he’ll be able to get back to racing in 30 days or so.”
Evans, a well-known breeder and owner whose father was Buckland Farm patriarch Thomas Mellon Evans, was hoping to secure his first victory in a Triple Crown race with A Little Warm, the Louisiana Derby runner-up.
He worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 at Delaware Park Monday for trainer Anthony Dutrow before being scoped.
CARACORTADO – Trainer Michael Machowsky’s home-bred gelding, who worked seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Saturday, returned to the track for a morning jog Monday.
“Tomorrow, he’ll gallop and then he’ll ship on Wednesday,” Machowsky said.
Caracortado has not raced since finishing a troubled fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, which prevented the California-bred gelding from qualifying for the Kentucky Derby field due to a lack of graded-stakes earnings.
“If you look at the replay, my horse had as much trouble if not more trouble than Lookin At Lucky. He checked and we had to check and fell back to almost last and come four and five wide,” Machowsky said.
Caracortado, who ran an undefeated string to five races by winning the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes in February, will attempt to get back to his winning ways in the Preakness after finishing third in the San Felipe and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby.
Paul Atkinson, who has been aboard for all seven of his starts, has the return mount.
DUBLIN/NORTHERN GIANT – Both of trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ Preakness horses worked Monday at Churchill Downs. They are scheduled to be shipped to Pimlico on Tuesday. Dublin, who was seventh in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in company with Bird Empire with Garrett Gomez up at 6 a.m. in :48.40. It was the 15th-fastest of 69 at the distance, built on fractions of :13, :25 and :37. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.
Northern Giant was the next out and worked three furlongs in :36.40, third-fastest of 29, under Arielle Witkowski. He galloped out a half-mile in :49.80.
Gomez picked up the mount from Terry Thompson and will be riding Dublin for the first time at Pimlico.
“I liked what I felt under me. He was very responsive,” Gomez said. “Wayne wanted a good easy half and didn’t want much of a gallop-out.”
Gomez said it is possible to learn things about a horse during a breeze.
“He was nothing like what you may have heard about in Hot Springs (at Oaklawn Park) when he bolted a few times,” Gomez said. “He was no problem today. He’s just a big ol’ boy. I feel good about my chances.”
After the work, Lukas said to Gomez: “I hope you feel good about him.”
Gomez responded: “I do.”
Lukas said he was satisfied with the breeze by the Hopeful winner.
“It was a very good work and he galloped out in 1:01,” Lukas said. “Garrett liked it. He’s enthused, and that’s all that matters.”
Lukas said, “He went well,” about Northern Giant’s breeze. He said he will settle on a rider when he sees who is in Baltimore for other stakes at Old Hilltop this weekend.
FIRST DUDE/PADDY O’PRADO – Trainer Dale Romans welcomed the news that First Dude will likely have a spot in the 14-horse Preakness field Monday afternoon, when A Little Warm was withdrawn from consideration.
“I’m glad we can put this behind us so we can start to make arrangements,” Romans said. “We’ll just relax and get him ready to run.”
As of Monday morning, 15 horses were still under consideration for starts in the Preakness, whose field is limited to 14 horses. In such an event, the starters are determined in a three-tier process. The first seven horses with the highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes will be given preference. 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.
As it looked Monday morning, Super Saver ($1,789,032), Lookin At Lucky ($1,480,000), Mission Impazible ($485,934), Paddy O’Prado ($450,950), Dublin ($373,208) Aikenite ($267,806) and Jackson Bend ($230,000) would qualify in the graded-earnings category. Only A Little Warm and Hurricane Ike would have had earnings in the non-restricted category, so the final five starters would have come from the lifetime earnings tier: Caracortado ($262,200), Pleasant Prince ($224,398), Yawanna Twist ($195,600), Schoolyard Dreams ($179,060) and Northern Giant ($169,808) would earn starts in the Preakness, leaving First Dude ($152,160) on the outside.
“He’s such a good horse and he was complimented by Fly Down the other day in the Dwyer,” said Romans, who has engaged Ramon Dominguez to ride First Dude. “He’s peaking.”
First Dude has finished a close second twice to Fly Down, who defeated highly regarded Drosselmeyer by six lengths to win the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park last Saturday. The son of Stephen Got Even, who finished third in the Blue Grass in his most recent start, finished a half-length behind Fly Down in a maiden race at Churchill Downs last fall and just a head behind the Nick Zito-trained colt in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in February.
Romans also had reason for optimism Monday morning with Paddy O’Prado, his third-place Derby finisher.
“Paddy came out of the Derby well. He’s sharp,” Romans said. “He’s ready to go.”
Paddy O’Prado closed well after some early trouble to finish third behind Super Saver and Ice Box at Churchill Downs.
“Not taking anything away from Super Saver, but if we switched trips with him, my horse probably would have won the race,” said Romans, who plans to gallop the son of El Prado right up to the Preakness.
First Dude and Paddy O’Prado are scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.
HURRICANE IKE – The Derby Trial winner breezed seven furlongs under jockey Robby Albarado Monday morning, caught in 1:25.80 by the Churchill Downs clockers. The final major tune-up for the Preakness Stakes was supervised by trainer John Sadler’s assistant Larry Benavidez.
“Larry said he went very well,” said Sadler from his barn at Hollywood Park. “Robby was up on him and everything went well.”
Faced with naming a replacement for Calvin Borel, who rode Hurricane Ike to victory in the Derby Trial and is committed to ride Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in the Preakness, Sadler quickly opted for Albarado.
“He’s one of the leading riders in the East, and he won a nice stakes for me at Keeneland in the fall (aboard Black Mamba in the Dowager),” Sadler said. “I just had the feeling that he rides the style that will fit my horse.”
Hurricane Ike, who won one of six starts on synthetic tracks, made a strong debut on traditional dirt in the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on April 3, finishing second behind speedy Eightyfiveinafifty. The son of Graeme Hall came right back to dominate the Derby Trial field that included a couple of Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
“We think it’s easier training horses on synthetic tracks and running on dirt tracks than to train on dirt and run on a synthetic track,” Sadler said. “It’s a question of fitness. It’s hard to train on dirt and run on synthetics without training on it for a while.”
Hurricane Ike is scheduled to ship from Louisville Wednesday morning.
JACKSON BEND – The grandson of 1994 Preakness Stakes winner Tabasco Cat got the clockers’ attention Monday when he rambled through a brilliant four-furlong work of :46.60 under exercise rider Stacy Prior – the best clocking of 69 runners at the distance on Churchill Downs’ main track.
“I am real happy,” Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said. “It was a big move. He did it all on his own. Louis Quatorze ran 16th in the Derby, had a really good work and then won the Preakness, so we are hoping lightning strikes twice.”
Jackson Bend, who was undefeated at 2 in five starts, had his first off-the-board performance in the Kentucky Derby when he was 12th after a troubled trip. He was part of the exacta in his previous nine starts.
“This horse is tough as nails, maybe the toughest I have ever been around,” Zito said. “He reminds me of Birdstone. The horse deserves another chance.”
Jackson Bend has yet to post a graded-stakes triumph despite logging five victories, but he was second twice to pre-Derby favorite Eskendereya on the Derby trail. Zito believes the opportunities may be more appealing in the Preakness.
“It looks like people aren’t believing what Calvin (Borel) said (about Super Saver winning the Triple Crown),” Zito said. “But I understand why he said it. The Derby is a deceiving race. Jackson Bend was making a decent move, but it’s hard with 20 horses and it will be hard with 14, too, this Saturday.”
LOOKIN AT LUCKY – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Monday that the beaten Kentucky Derby favorite will run in the 135th Preakness on Saturday. The Smart Strike colt owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, galloped a mile and a half Monday at Churchill Downs under Peter Hutton. Baffert has been leaning toward running the star-crossed colt back in the Preakness, but said he would wait until Monday to announce his decision.
“I’ve been watching him, looking for any little sign of not wanting to come,” Baffert said. “He’s been training well here, he’s moving well and is his old self. He deserves another chance at it.”
Lookin At Lucky drew the rail in the Derby and had to endure a rough trip in the first quarter of a mile of the race. He made a big move, rallying from 18th to about six lengths from the lead entering the stretch and finished sixth, seven lengths behind the winner, Super Saver. Despite getting forced into the rail twice, Lookin At Lucky did not come back with any nicks or cuts, but was covered in mud kicked up from the sealed, sloppy track.
“He’s a warrior. He’s tough,” Baffert said.
Martin Garcia will ride the colt in the Preakness, replacing Garrett Gomez, who was aboard for his first nine starts.
Lookin At Lucky will ship to Old Hilltop on Wednesday.
PLEASANT PRINCE – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s former claimer, who lost the Grade 1 Florida Derby in a photo finish to Ice Box, jogged one lap around the training track at Keeneland a day after his final prep for the big race at Pimlico.
“He came out of his work (five furlongs in :59) awesome,” said Wesley Ward, who will be saddling his first Preakness starter. “He’s doing terrific. I think we’ve got a good chance. We’d have had a much better chance if we had just pointed for this.”
Pleasant Prince, a $30,000 purchase at the 2008 Ocala Breeders’ Sale, was forced into a circuitous course to get to the Kentucky Derby that ultimately failed when his seventh-place finish in the Blue Grass left him out of the 20-horse field based upon graded stakes earnings. Ward wheeled him back in two weeks for a third-place finish in the Derby Trial at Churchill.
“I talked with Mr. Ramsey after the Florida Derby and we had gone initially with the plan of just training him into the (Derby) off a career-best effort,” Ward said. “As the picture got a little clearer, we figured out it was going to be a little shaky for him getting into the Derby.”
Three weeks later, they tried the Blue Grass, but the quick turnaround appeared to take its toll.
“We went for a sort of Hail Mary in the Blue Grass,” Ward said. “It was hot and sticky that day, and he just didn’t fire. The good thing is the race didn’t really take a lot out of him; it was like a workout. We came back two weeks after that with another Hail Mary in the Derby Trial. I gave him a few days off and he came back with that beautiful work yesterday.”
SCHOOLYARD DREAMS – Trainer Derek Ryan was confident that his lightly raced colt could have made the Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and a quarter, so the mile and three-sixteenths of the Preakness and more than a month’s rest have him feeling pretty good about his chances on Saturday.
“He’s one of those horses who will benefit from five to six weeks between races rather than three to four,” said Ryan, who was forced to run Schoolyard Dreams in the Wood Memorial off three weeks’ rest in order to make the Kentucky Derby field. “He’s not a robust horse that you can run every three weeks, so it wasn’t an ideal situation, and the horse wasn’t 100 percent.”
A fourth-place finish derailed those plans, but allowed Ryan to have a Preakness runner for the second year in a row (Musket Man was third in 2009).
“(Schoolyard Dreams) is a more legitimate two-turn horse,” Ryan said. “I think this horse will really benefit by skipping the Derby. If he ran in the Derby, I don’t think he’d be running this week.”
Eibar Coa will be the seventh rider in as many starts for the son of Stephen Got Even owned by Eric Fein and Triple Diamond Stables.
“Eibar worked him the other morning (:59 3/5 for five furlongs at Monmouth on Thursday),” Ryan said. “We’re lucky to get him. We’ve had a lot of luck with him. You’ve got to go with who you’re lucky with.”
YAWANNA TWIST – The New York-bred colt breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Churchill Downs Monday morning, leading trainer Richard Dutrow to classify the son of Yonaguska as “most likely” to be entered in the Preakness Stakes on Wednesday.
Jockey Joe Deegan was aboard Yawanna Twist, who made the jump from two victories over New York-bred company to finish second in both the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.
Although a beaten favorite while finishing second in the Illinois Derby, nearly three lengths behind American Lion, Yawanna Twist was more than 11 lengths clear of third-place finisher Backtalk.