Animal Kingdom Back Home At Fair Hill, Will Train At 8:30 A.M. Wednesday

CASPER’S TOUCH JOINS PREAKNESS LIST; PRIME CUT TO PETER PAN; THE FACTOR A LONG SHOT FOR THE MIDDLE JEWEL

      BALTIMORE, 05-10-11 --- Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom returned to his home base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Tuesday and is scheduled to jog on the main track at the complex at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

      Trainer Graham Motion said the van was expected to arrive late in the afternoon. After a couple of days of jogging, the Team Valor International homebred is expected to gallop daily. Motion said he hasn’t decided whether Animal Kingdom will work before the Preakness.
  
“I just want to see how he is,” Motion said. “Get him back here and see how he is.”

     Although some changes were made, the list of horses being considered for the 136th Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 21 remained at 20 on Tuesday. Trainer Neil Howard said that his Coolmore Lexington runner-up Prime Cut will skip the Preakness in favor of the Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park and trainer Bob Baffert said The Factor was likely to run next in the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park. However, Magdalena Racing’s Casper’s Touch, who was third in the Lexington (G3), is a candidate for the second leg of the Triple Crown series and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said that Saratoga Red returns to the list of possible starters.

     The group of horses being considered consists of seven that ran in the Kentucky Derby and 13 newcomers.
 
     Chris Grove, the leading trainer in Maryland last year, has been pointing his colt, Norman Asbjornson to the Preakness since late winter and said that the son of Real Quiet is showing him he is ready for the state’s biggest race.

     “This horse is peaking right now and that is what is so exciting,” Grove said. “He is at his best right now. It seems that every day he keeps taking those baby steps forward. That was his best mile work last week that proves he just keeps inching toward his best performance.”

     While the Kentucky Derby is the goal of every horseman, Grove said he is happy with how things have worked out. Norman Asbjornson broke his maiden at Penn National in December, picked up an allowance win in January then ran second to Stay Thirsty in the Gotham (G3) on March 5. He was fourth, beaten 4½ lengths, in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 9.

     “I didn’t want to go to Kentucky,” Grove said. “I wanted to do the Preakness and then the Belmont. If we run in the Derby too many things can go wrong and we would miss out on the best day in Maryland racing. So, all along, I didn’t want him to win the Wood and then it was mandatory that we go to the Derby. As far as I can tell, he and I are on the same page. He is peaking going into the biggest race of his career and the biggest race of my career.”

     And Grove said the colt fits in the Preakness field.

     “From what I can tell, this horse has a legitimate shot,” he said. “I don’t think we are taking advantage of being Marylanders just running in the Preakness, which sometimes happens. I don’t think that is one of those stories. I think we legitimately belong in the race and all signs point to a big effort.”

ANIMAL KINGDOMTeam Valor International’s Animal Kingdom left Barn 22 at Churchill Downs at 5:15 a.m. Tuesday for the van ride to Fair Hill training center in Elkton, Md.

     Joining the Kentucky Derby 137 winner on the ride were Summer Soiree, who was 10th in the Kentucky Oaks, and a pony.

     Motion traveled home from Kentucky on Monday. He said that his life has been very different since Animal Kingdom hit the wire first in the Derby shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

     “I don’t know how I could describe it in one short sentence,” he said. “To be honest, it’s been pretty overwhelming.”

     Motion said it seems like his phone has been vibrating every 15 seconds during the last couple of days.

     “The support and the nice things that people have said have been very overwhelming,” he said. “I really wasn’t emotional about it on Saturday and I’ve become more emotional about it as the week has gone on.”

     While Motion has been busy dealing with media requests, he has been careful to absorb everything that comes with winning the Derby.
 
     “I really just want to enjoy the ride. I want to enjoy the next 10 days. I’m looking forward to the Preakness, but I don’t want to get too caught up in it right now. I really just want to enjoy this ride.”

ASTROLOGY/NEHROStonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s Astrology and Zayat Stables’ Nehro walked Tuesday morning.
    
     Astrology had worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 over a fast track at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. Nehro finished 2 ¾ lengths behind Animal Kingdom in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

CASPER’S TOUCHMagdalena Racing’s Touch Gold colt is under consideration for the Preakness, according to Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind.

     Trainer Ken McPeek’s assistant, Philip Bauer, contacted Blind and said the colt is a candidate for the race. Casper’s Touch worked five furlongs in a bullet :59.60 seconds Sunday at Churchill Downs.

     In his most recent start, Casper’s Touch finished third in the Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland. Last year, McPeek took the 2-year-old maiden to England’s famed Royal Ascot, where he finished third in the listed Chesham Stakes, a race restricted to horses whose sire won at 1 ½ miles or longer.

CONCEALED IDENTITY – The Federico Tesio winner owned by Linda Gaudet and Morris Bailey had another quiet morning Tuesday, walking the shedrow at trainer Eddie Gaudet’s barn at Bowie.

     The Smarty Jones gelding, purchased for $16,000, won two of his first three starts last year and has bounced back from an injury to win his last two, both at a mile and a sixteenth at Pimlico, an allowance-optional claimer on April 15 and the Tesio on Saturday.

     “He lost his right eye after winning the Maryland Juvenile Championship and we had a blinker on it to protect him so sand would not be hitting him in the eye,” Gaudet, 80, said. “That didn’t agree with him so we took it off and he has won both races. He has been more aggressive and two turns has been the key.

     With four victories in eight starts, including a pair of ungraded stakes, Concealed Identity has purse earnings of $120,780, which put him in contention for a spot in the field
“He trains well and is a very professional horse,” Gaudet said.

     Gaudet said that if the field has 10 or 11 runners, he will run Concealed Identity in Maryland’s signature race. Sheldon Russell, the leading rider at the current Pimlico meet, will ride Concealed Identity in the Preakness.

 DANCE CITYThe Estate of Edward P. Evans’ Dance City, jogged a mile before the morning renovation break with exercise rider Obed Perez up.

     Third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, the Todd Pletcher trainee is scheduled to have his final work for the Preakness on Sunday.
 
DIALED IN Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In walked the shedrow and is scheduled to return to the track on Wednesday trainer Nick Zito said.

     Dialed In went to the track before the morning renovation break during Derby Week and Zito said the beaten Derby favorite may have early activity tomorrow to avoid the heat on a day when highs are expected to reach the high 80s.

     Zito found a major positive in Dialed In’s eighth-place finish on Saturday.

     “They ran the slowest first three-quarters in the Derby since 1947 and my horse ran the second fastest (final) half-mile (in :47.02),” Zito said. “Only Secretariat ran a faster final half (:46 2/5). He (Dialed In) was not a short horse. We are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing with him when he was in Florida.”
 
FLASHPOINT Peachtree Stable’s speedy Pomeroy colt won the Hutcheson (G2) in his second career start and finished fourth in the Florida Derby (G1).

     Originally trained by Richard Dutrow, Flashpoint is now being handled by Wesley Ward.

HARLAN’S HELLO/ISN’T HE PERFECT – Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said that his two New York-based colts are possible for the Preakness. Both have competed in graded stakes this year.

     Nearing the mid-point of his 3-year-old season, Isn’t He Perfect has already made 12 starts. Three of the six outings this year gave been in graded stakes.

     “Isn’t He Perfect ran in the Wood Memorial and he is the horse that really looked Uncle Mo in the eye,” Shivmangal said. “I thought the jock moved a little too early and used him up around two turns. He is a speedy horse and he can be up there. He also ran in the Gotham and we made a mistake of asking the jockey to stay back too far.

     “We think that Pimlico is a track that favors speed, so we want to give him a shot and see what he does. He’s a nice, little horse and we think he has a shot.”

     Harlan’s Hello last raced in a turf allowance on May 1. He is entered in an allowance/optional claimer on Friday at Belmont Park.

     “He has a lot of speed and broke his maiden against older horses,” Shivmangal said. “We ran him in the Jerome, which is a seven-furlong race, which wasn’t good for him because he likes to go long. We tried him on the grass the other day and he didn’t like it. We also think that he is a horse that needs to go long, too.” 

KING CONGIEWest Point Thoroughbred’s Badge of Silver colt walked at trainer Tom Albertrani’s barn at Belmont Park Tuesday, the morning after breezing five furlongs in 1:01.14.

     Albertrani said the colt came out of the work fine and would likely return to the track on Wednesday. He said jockey Robby Albarado will ride King Congie in the Preakness.

MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE/THE FACTORFog City Stable and George Bolton’s The Factor, working for the second time since undergoing a myectomy following a seventh-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1), worked five furlongs before the renovation break in 1:00 over a fast track at Churchill Downs.

     Trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday that the Woody Stephens (G2) at Belmont Park was “the next logical spot” for the colt. Baffert said The Factor was a long shot for the Preakness. 

     Working on his own and with Shaun Bridgmohan up, The Factor clicked off fractions of :12.80, :25, :36.80, :48.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13, seven-eighths in 1:26 3/5 and pulled up a mile in 1:41.60. The five-furlong time was the third fastest of 13 at the distance on Tuesday.
    
     “Shaun gallops with a watch and I talked to (trainer) Bob (Baffert) about it yesterday and we didn’t want to go in :57 and change. That’s the last thing you’d want,” said Peter Hutton, Baffert’s assistant at Churchill Downs. “We wanted to go a minute with a good gallop out and that’s exactly what he did. It was perfect.”

     Bridgmohan jogged The Factor once around to the three-quarter pole before turning and getting into the work.

     “He is a little tricky to get to the pole,” Hutton said. “He tries to trick you when you gallop him. He tries to out-think you.”

     Meanwhile, Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude, 16th in the Kentucky Derby, walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs Tuesday and is scheduled to return to the track to gallop on Wednesday morning. He remains a candidate for the Preakness.

     “I’ll know Monday after I watch him train,” Baffert said.
  
MR. COMMONS – The Artie Schiller colt trained by John Shirreffs finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his first try in a graded stake.

     The Maryland Jockey Club racing office has been notified that Mr. Commons is a serious candidate for the Preakness.

MUCHO MACHO MAN – Trainer Kathy Ritvo said the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby was doing well at her barn at Belmont Park and remains a serious prospect for the Preakness.

     Ritvo said that a report on the Internet that Mucho Macho Man would pass the Preakness and race next in the Belmont Stakes was not accurate.

     “That is absolutely not true,” she said. “The horse is doing well. We’re in New York and the horse is doing really good and we’ll see in the next couple days. He’s definitely not out of the Preakness.”

     Ritvo said the bay son of Macho Uno owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing has looked great in the days since his run in the Derby.

     “He’s bounced right out. I just want to be cautious with my horse and make sure that I have all the information before we point toward the Preakness,” she said, “but he’s doing really well.”

NORMAN ASBJORNSONThomas McClay and Harry Nye’s Real Quiet colt galloped 1½ miles under exercise rider Tara Lewis at the Bowie training center.

     Trainer Chris Grove said that Norman Asbjornson will breeze five furlongs at Pimlico Friday morning after the renovation break.

     Julian Pimentel, who has been aboard for the colt’s last two starts, will ride him in the Preakness.
    
PRIME CUTCourtlandt Farms’ Prime Cut worked five furlongs in company in 1:01.20 at Churchill Downs with Dane Noel up for trainer Neil Howard.

     Runner-up in the Coolmore Lexington (G3) in his most recent start, Prime Cut had been expected to work later in the week for a possible Preakness bid.

     “Change of plans,” Howard said. “We are going to New York for the Peter Pan (G2) on Saturday. The Preakness has a big field with a lot of speed and the top horses from the Derby look tough coming right back and I don’t know if he is ready for something like that.”

     Working in company with World Champ, Prime Cut began three lengths back of his workmate and posted fractions of :13.20, :26, :38, :49.60 and finished on even terms in 1:01.20 for the fourth fastest move of 13 at the distance on Tuesday. Prime Cut galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven-eighths in 1:28.20.

     “I don’t know if we could get in (the Preakness because of only $40,000 in graded stakes earnings),” Howard said. “They are only expecting 10 (for the Peter Pan), so we can ship and know we’ll run. If he runs in one of the (Triple Crown) races, we feel the Belmont would be the best for him.”

RULER ON ICE – Trainer Kelly Breen said he would talk with owner George Hall on Tuesday about whether to run the beaten Federico Tesio favorite in the Preakness. The Roman Ruler gelding has a 2-2-1 record in six career starts.

SANTIVATom Walters’ Santiva walked the shedrow on Tuesday. The sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby is expected to return to the track on Wednesday.
 
SARATOGA RED – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas contacted MJC stakes coordinator Coley Blind and said the Eddington colt still remains under consideration for the Preakness.

SHACKLEFORD Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford, the Kentucky Derby pacesetter, walked the shedrow and is scheduled to return to the track Wednesday.
    
SWAY AWAYBatman Stable, Philip Lebherz, Cindy Olsen, Janet Sharp and Glen Wallace et al’s Sway Away jogged a mile before the renovation break under exercise rider Keith Davis.

-MJC-