May 17, 2019
Improbable Gets ‘Thumbs Up’ Friday Morning
Blinkers Expected to Put Bourbon War ‘More on the Bridle’
BALTIMORE, MD – Runnymede Racing’s Alwaysmining got his first look at Pimlico Race Course with a jog around main track at 7 a.m. Friday, the morning after arriving from his home at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
Alwaysmining has won five consecutive stakes and six straight races overall, all since being united with jockey Daniel Centeno, who will be back aboard in Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes (G1).
Centeno is a 47-year-old native of Venezuela who has ridden full-time in the U.S. since 2003 with more than 2,800 wins from over 15,000 starters. The Preakness will be his first in a Triple Crown race.
A multiple-meet riding champion at his winter base of Tampa Bay Downs, Centeno owns six career graded-stakes wins, the last coming in the 2018 Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) with No Dozing. He rode Musket Man (2009) and Ring Weekend (2014) to wins in the Tampa Bay Derby, both horses continuing without him on the Triple Crown trail.
Musket Man ran third in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness, ridden by Eibar Coa, while Alan Garcia replaced Centeno on Ring Weekend for the Preakness, finishing fifth.
“I’ve been fortunate to ride some nice horses. I won two Tampa Bay Derbys with nice horses that went to the Triple Crown races, but it’s part of the business. Sometimes they want somebody with experience and I never had the experience,” Centeno said. “I’m really lucky and blessed that they let me stay on [Alwaysmining]. He’s a nice, cool horse to ride. He’s very professional.”
Centeno and Alwaysmining will break from Post 7 in the 13-horse Preakness, surrounded by long shots Market King to his inside and Grade 2 winner Signalman on his outside. Trained by Kelly Rubley, also making her Triple Crown race debut, Alwaysmining is 8-1 on the morning line.
“As soon as the entries came out I got the PPs and I started watching replays of other horses,” Centeno said. “I already know my horse. I like the post. We’ll see. I’ll talk to Kelly to see what her plan is. I have my own plan and we’ll figure it out.”
Alwaysmining earned an automatic berth into the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown by virtue of his 11 ½-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel Park. He is three-for-three this year, also winning the one-mile Miracle Wood and 1 1/16-mile Private Terms.
“After he won twice at seven furlongs, I told Kelly to stretch him out because I think he’s going to be a lot better going two turns,” Centeno said. “She was a little concerned, and the owner, too, but the way he was doing it he was really enjoying it. I really thought it was going to be easier for him going two turns, he’s so comfortable.
“The Preakness is going to be a completely different game, [with] a completely different kind of horses. It’s going to be tougher, but he’s a nice horse to ride,” he added. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead. We’ll see after the break what happens. I’m really very confident in him. He’s training really great, and we think he’s going to run good.”
Beginning with William Doyle in 1909, 42 jockeys have won with their first Preakness starters, the last being Mario Gutierrez on 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Of the 42, 14 have been victorious with their only Preakness mount.
“It’s like a dream come true, especially when you didn’t even expect it. To be able to find a horse like that and then when they told me we’re going to the Preakness I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I was in shock. I’m really excited. I’m grateful and blessed and just waiting,” Centeno said. “Hopefully everything’s going to be good Saturday. I think he’s going to run good.”
ANOTHERTWISTAFATE – First-time Preakness trainer Blaine Wright said that Friday was just a typical day-before-a-race morning for Peter Redekop’s Anothertwistafate. The Scat Daddy colt galloped and schooled in the gate while he was out of his stall in the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico Race Course.
“He looks good. He’s handling everything well,” Wright said. “It seems like his energy level is real good. Our gallop boy is awfully happy with how he is pulling on him and traveling. Can’t complain too much.”
Anothertwistafate was shipped across the continent Tuesday from Wright’s base at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif. to Baltimore. As Wright had hoped, he drew an outside Post, 12, in Saturday’s 13-horse Preakness (G1). In his previous two starts, second-place finishes in the Sunland Derby (G3) and the Lexington (G3), Anothertwistafate started closer to the rail and had to contend with some traffic. Wright indicated that Anothertwistafate with Jose Ortiz aboard will be forwardly placed in the Preakness.
Wright smiled when asked how he thinks the race will develop
“I don’t know. We’ll find out when the gate opens,” he said. “Our plan is to keep his face clear and adapt to what’s going on to the outside of us. I think we’re in a terrific spot. We’ll meet with our jock tomorrow and get his take on things. He knows these horses probably a little bit better than we do as he’s ridden against them. It will be interesting to see what he thinks.
BODEXPRESS – Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable’s Bodexpress had a ‘good’ morning at Pimlico Race Course Friday while gearing up for a run in Saturday’s Preakness (G1).
“We took him to the starting gate and he galloped,” trainer Gustavo Delgado said. “Everything was good.”
Bodexpress, the Florida Derby (G1) runner-up who finished 14th and was placed 13th in the Kentucky Derby, will have the opportunity to become the first maiden to win the Preakness since Refund defeated three rivals in 1888.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride the son of Bodemeister for the first time Saturday.
BOURBON WAR – Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable’s Bourbon War galloped a mile at Pimlico Race Course in preparation for a start in Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes.
The son of Tapit will race for the first time equipped with short-cup blinkers.
“When I look back and watch some of his races, he’s great at relaxing and shutting off and waiting for the jock. But the reins weren’t tight for the jock, so when the jock asked him it seemed to take him three of four jumps to get into that good stride,” trainer Mark Hennig said. “I thought maybe with the short-cup blinkers, it would get him a little more on the bridle – not necessarily to get him closer to the pace but to get him more on the bridle.”
Bourbon War, who has won two of five starts, finished a fast-closing second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream before being compromised in a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby (G1) by a comfortable pace set by victorious Maximum Security, who went on the win the Kentucky Derby (G1), only to be disqualified and placed 17th for interference.
“Obviously, more pace the better for him [Saturday]. I visualize the speed inside of him clearing us, giving him a little space to work with. He doesn’t mind running inside so I’d like him to try and save ground in mid-pack, maybe a little closer than he’s been,” Hennig said. “I know he’ll come running.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the return mount aboard Bourbon War.
EVERFAST – Everfast, 50-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1), got his first taste of Pimlico Race Course’s main track Friday morning when he went for an early jog around the oval under exercise rider Tammy Fox, assistant to trainer Dale Romans.
Everfast arrived in Baltimore early Thursday morning from Churchill Downs, while Fox flew in from Louisville that afternoon. Romans is due in Friday evening, said Fox.
Although the Calumet colt has been in Romans’ barn for more than a year, it marked the first time Fox had been on him.
“He did everything good, he was smart,” she said. “As long as they don’t act stupid, it’s all good.”
His 11th hour entry brought the field for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness to 13, the largest since the Romans-trained Shackleford beat 13 to win the race in 2011. The Calumet colt drew Post 10, which has produced two Preakness winners since 1909 – Greek Money in 1962 and Real Quiet in 1998.
Everfast will be jockey Joel Rosario’s sixth Preakness mount, with his best showing a pair of second-place finishes aboard Tale of Verve in 2015 and Ride On Curlin in 2014.
IMPROBABLE – With fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas providing some laugh lines, Bob Baffert had some fun describing Preakness morning-line favorite Improbable’s Friday morning exercise at Pimlico Race Course.
“We went around there. We took a lap,” Baffert said.
“Did you go to the left, Bob?” Lukas asked, trying to sound serious.
“And he looked good,” Baffert said.
Improbable went to the track under exercise rider Humberto Gomez for a routine gallop the morning before the $1.65 million Preakness. The colt co-owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby and was placed fourth by the disqualification of first-place finisher Maximum Security. Baffert decided to enter him in the Preakness and he was shipped to Baltimore from Louisville, Ky. on Wednesday. He drew Post 4 in the field of 13 for the 144th Preakness as was listed as the 5-2 favorite.
Baffert arrived from California Thursday afternoon and watched the chestnut son of City Zip on the track Friday morning.
“He looked good. Got the thumbs up from the rider,” Baffert said. “All’s well.”
Lukas promptly jumped back into the interview. “Then he came over here and asked for some advice,” Lukas said, laughing.
Baffert won the 2018 Preakness with Triple Crown champ Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, to tie the stakes record of seven victories held solely since 1888 by Robert Wyndham Walden. Smith, who has two wins in 17 Preakness rides, will be up on Improbable as Baffert tries to secure that eighth win.
LAUGHING FOX – The Steve Asmussen-trained Laughing Fox, winner of the Oaklawn Invitational for owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, went with the pony to school in the starting gate, then galloped 1 1/4 miles under Brooke Stillion at Pimlico Race Course Friday morning.
Ricardo Santana Jr. has the return mount aboard the son of Union Rags.
MARKET KING – Robert Baker and William Mack’s Market King went to the track shortly after it opened for training Friday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who likes his horses to be first on the surface.
Lukas borrowed exercise rider Humberto Gomez from trainer Bob Baffert’s staff to take the son of Into Mischief out for the gallop. Lukas told his buddy Baffert that Gomez gave him some positive feedback.
“He said he likes my horse,” Lukas said.
Market King, who has just one win in eight career starts, will start from Post 6 in the field of 13 and is 30-1 on the morning line.
“My horse is good,” Lukas said. “It was just a routine gallop.”
Veteran jockey Jon Court, 58, will ride Market King, Lukas’ record-extending 44th Preakness starter.
OWENDALE, WARRIOR’S CHARGE – The Brad Cox-trained duo of Rupp Racing’s Lexington (G3) winner Owendale and Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables’ Oaklawn Park allowance winner Warrior’s Charge both had spirited 1 1/2-mile gallops under exercise rider Edvin Hernandez Friday morning at Pimlico Race Course.
Warrior’s Charge has never been in a stakes race. In fact, the only time he’s competed against other than winless horses was the first-level allowance race he won at Oaklawn Park in his last start on April 12.
Because his camp felt Warrior’s Charge was destined to be a sprinter, they didn’t pay the $600 in January to make him eligible to all three Triple Crown races. Instead, owners Ten Strike Racing and Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables are paying $150,000 to make Warrior’s Charge a supplemental entry to Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) – a sum that wipes out the $138,110 the Munnings colt has made to date.
But running Warrior’s Charge in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness was not a simply a matter of owners seeing a chance to run in a Triple Crown race that wasn’t going to overfill with entries.
Marshall Gramm, co-founder of the Memphis-based Ten Strike Racing partnership, is a well-known handicapper who finished ninth in February’s National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas. Beyond that, his day job is as an economist. In fact he’s the department chair at Rhodes College in Memphis. So when Gramm wanted to teach the two-credit course “The Economics of Racetrack Wagering Markets,” he simply asked himself for approval. The final exam included evaluating the Kentucky Derby in advance, including trip and pace calculations.
The decision to run Warrior’s Charge in the Preakness was influenced by both handicapping and economics, he said.
“Once we saw Maximum Security out and saw a lot of those Derby horses fall by the wayside, we thought it’s worth the gamble in terms of the supplement,” Gramm said, referring to the first-place finisher of the Kentucky Derby who was disqualified to 17th. “I think we’ll be up front. Hopefully, the pace won’t be too fast and we’ll be able to be right up among the leaders if not on the lead. And as they turn for home, hopefully we kick away and see if they can catch us.
“… Let’s put it in plain numbers. Maybe the horse is worth $600,000 now. If we win the Preakness, we get $900,000, plus the horse is probably worth $4 million in his overall value, including residual value. If you think about $600,000 vs. $4-5 million, and we’re 12-1 in the morning line. I think realistically you’ve got about a 10-percent chance,” he added. “So the mathematics on that kind of work. You’ve got a $3-4 million upside against a $150,000 gamble, right? It’s not great odds, but it’s definitely what I’d think of as a positive play. If we finish third, we break even on the whole proposition, and our horse is Grade 1-placed.
“Now, we’re only going to get one outcome. This is not a repeated experiment. Our horse may run poorly and never be the same and this may have been an awful decision. Or our horse might run great and we look like geniuses. People will be laughing at us or praising us. But at least looking at it right now, we feel we have a certain shot and a potentially big outcome.”
Warrior’s Charge won an allowance race by 6 1/2 lengths the day before the Arkansas Derby (G1).
“We knew at some point we were going to take our shot. We were thinking the Haskell,” Gramm said of Monmouth Park’s Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds in late July. “We were mapping out a schedule for the Haskell. We were planning in running in the Sir Barton [on the Preakness undercard].”
On the Tuesday after the Derby, news came out that adjudged Derby winner Country House would not run in the Preakness. The next morning, Gramm watched Warrior’s Charge train and asked Cox about running.
“He was enthusiastic about it,” Gramm said. “We contacted our partners and by Thursday we had a jockey [Javier Castellano] and were going to the Preakness.”
One question of this Preakness is the pace scenario.
“I’m keenly aware of what pace might be, because it’s going to so influence our chances in the race,” Gramm said. “Part of the reason we got in the race was because we thought the horses who would be up front wouldn’t set a reckless pace. I think now you’re hearing more of a buzz that the pace might be faster. I think Improbable might go. They seem to be indicating they’ll be closer this time. I think War of Will at the rail will be forced to make a decision and are likely to go. Market King, I think will be up front, and even Anothertwistafate and Alwaysmining. There’s a scenario where two or three horses get going and the pace is fairly fast and sets up for a closer.
“If you were to ask me how I think this race is going to be run, I’d say I think the race will probably be fast,” he added. “And that’s probably to our detriment, so I hope it’s not the case.”
SIGNALMAN – It was the usual routine for Signalman on the morning before the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, a mile jog followed by a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider and Ken McPeek’s assistant trainer Danny Ramsey.
“Just more of the same from him this morning, a jog and a gallop,’’ said McPeek, whose Signalman just missed qualifying for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and is well rested for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Signalman, with Brian Hernandez, Jr., aboard, will leave from Post 8 – one that has produced 10 Preakness winners, including Sir Barton 100 years ago.
“I’d like to see him run back to his 2-year-old form (5-2-2-1), but we’ll just have Brian get him out there and go from there. I do think the added distance (1 3/16 miles) works for him. He should like it,” McPeek said.
WAR OF WILL – Gary Barber’s double graded-stakes winner War of Will, who was placed seventh in the Kentucky Derby upon the disqualification of first-place finisher Maximum Security, jogged a mile under Kim Carroll and in company of a pony, as is trainer Mark Casse’s normal routine the day before a race.
Tyler Gaffalione, who rode the son to victories in the LeComte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, has the mount Saturday.
WIN WIN WIN – Live Oak Plantation’s Win Win Win put in an early gallop on Friday morning at Pimlico Race Course, the day before the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes. Trainer Michael Trombetta was satisfied with the 1 ¾-mile gallop and planned to spend part of Friday assessing the 13-horse field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“All went well this morning, a gallop around the track and everything looks good,’’ said Trombetta.
As far as how the race sets up, the Maryland-based trainer’s been way too busy making sure all goes well on the Preakness prep front.
“To be honest, it’s been so busy, I’ve had no time to really look closely at the field,’’ said Trombetta, who will saddle his second Preakness starter. The Trombetta-trained Sweetnorthernsaint finished second in 2006).
Trombetta departed Pimlico shortly after training hours to “lock myself in a room and really look it over.”
Win Win Win had finished in the top three in all six of his starts before the Kentucky Derby (G1), in which was 10th across the finish line. He won the Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs, setting a track record for seven furlongs; finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2); and second in the Blue Grass (G2), all with powerful closing kicks.
The son of Hat Trick will be ridden by Julian Pimentel, and break from Post 13.
About Pimlico Race Course
Legendary Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the Middle Jewel in horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, American Pharoah and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit www.pimlico.com.
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