Archive for May, 2013

Graded stakes winner Disposablepleasure sidelined with fracture

Glencrest Farm announced today that multiple graded stakes winner Disposablepleasure emerged from her fourth-place run in the Grade I Odgen Phipps Handicap this Monday with a cannon bone fracture and would be off for at least 90 days.

The daughter of Giacomo was examined by Dr.  Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital where he found “a semi-lunar distal cannon bone fracture of the articular surface and a villonodular mass in the front of the fetlock joint,” John Greathouse of Glencrest said in a release. “She’s home here at Glencrest, we will evaluate her in 60 to 90 days and see if a comeback is possible.”

Disposablepleasure won her first two starts this year, including the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap, prior to her start in the Ogden Phipps. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old filly had previously captured the Demoiselle Stakes in 2011 and was runner-up in the 2012 Grade I Mother Goose.

Oxbow, Golden Soul work toward Belmont Stakes

In his first serious move since notching his upset victory in the Preakness Stakes on May 18, Calumet Farm’s Oxbow drilled six furlongs in 1:14.60 at Churchill Downs Thursday morning as he prepares for his expected start in next weekend’s Belmont Stakes.

Oxbow was among the first horses onto the track following the renovation break and broke off in his typically headstrong manner from the 5 1/2 furlong pole. The son of Awesome Again clocked splits of 24.20, 35.80, 47.60, 1:00.60 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:29.40.

“The thing I liked the most about Oxbow’s work was the first eighth,” said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “I think he went in 13 2/5 and that’s what we want to see. We’ve really turned the corner with this horse I think in as far having him grab the bit and charge that first half mile. That we’ve made some significant gains on, we’ve got a much more manageable racehorse now. And the track is a lot slower now than it was earlier.

“A work is a work,” Lukas continued. “It’s just a barometer of where we’re at. I want to watch his energy more than energy and monitor do I do more, do I do less. Just kind of tweaking the deal.”

Kentucky Derby winner Orb was the overwhelming favorite heading into the Preakness, having won five straight races dating back to last November. Oxbow caught everyone off guard, however, when he was allowed to clock tepid fractions on the front end of the middle leg of the Triple Crown leaving him plenty in reserve to record his 1 3/4 length victory.

“All you can expect in the spring is…they’re either regressing, holding their own or getting better,” Lukas said. “And I really feel – and I’m not just saying this – mine are getting better. I think it’s evident in the way they’re training.”

Oxbow’s stablemate Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, went out in the first set of the morning and was credited with a six furlong move in 1:15.80, throwing up splits of 12.80, 24.60, 37.40, 50.40. Jockey Jon Court, who guided the son of Unbridled’s Song to his victories in the Smarty Jones and Grade II Rebel Stakes this season, was aboard for the move and will regain the mount for the Belmont Stakes after Mike Smith piloted the colt in the Preakness.

“I liked his work too,” Lukas said of Will Take Charge. “I think the horse is improving. He’s maturing and he’s definitely getting more nifty, knowing where his feet are. I told (owner) Willis Horton that I think his best race could be the Belmont, without a doubt.”

Lukas was overseeing his charges on no sleep having flown all night after attending his grandson Brady’s graduation from the Air Force Academy. One of his former protegees, trainer Dallas Stewart, radiated enough energy for both however after watching Golden Soul go through his first breeze since finishing a surprising second in the Kentucky Derby.

Stewart had held off on working Golden Soul after the colt exhibited a decline in his appetite last week. There appeared to be no shortage of energy for the son of Perfect Soul Thursday as he covered five furlongs in 1:00.40, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.20.

“I thought he worked great, he finished up good, switched leads real smooth, didn’t seem to be blowing a ton,” Stewart said. “We’ll see how his energy is tomorrow. But I think we’re good to go. His energy was great backing up. He was shaking his  head, he was full of himself. It was everything I wanted to see this morning.

“It’s important for me to see the last week the energy and the appetite where it needs to be. He was really good after the Derby, he was pumped for 2-3 days. When we started back training and…into the third week he was just real quiet. But it’s a hard race on them.”

Palace Malice sharp in pre-Belmont Stakes move

Courtesy of NYRA notes team:

A host of Belmont Stakes contenders put in their penultimate works Monday morning for the Grade 1, $1 million race on June 8, with Palace Malice leading trainer Todd Pletcher’s sizeable contingent with an eye-catching five-furlong breeze on the main track in 1:00.24 after the renovation break.

 

Pletcher, who could have five starters in the 1 ½-mile Belmont, caught the Dogwood Stable color-bearer galloping out a mile in 1:38 3/5. Palace Malice, who was 12th in the Kentucky Derby, finished several lengths ahead of his workmate, Micromanage (1:01.17), who was then withdrawn from consideration for the Belmont by owner Mike Repole.

 

Repole, who will be represented in the Belmont by Grade I Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze (1:00.77) and possibly maiden winner Midnight Taboo and the multiple graded stakes-winning filly Unlimited Budget –the latter two going in company (1:00.68 for each) – said Micromanage instead would be pointed to the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

 

“Right now I’d say Overanalyze is 100 percent if everything stays right, Unlimited Budget is 75 percent and Midnight Taboo 60 percent [for the Belmont],” said Repole. “It’s a tough decision. Midnight Taboo has done nothing to say not to run. With Unlimited Budget, do you run against Dreaming of Julia [in the Grade I Mother Goose on June 22] or do you run against the boys? We’ll do what’s right for the horse.”

 

Pletcher’s other Belmont hopeful, Revolutionary, the Louisiana Derby winner who was third in the Kentucky Derby, went out at 6 a.m. and breezed a half-mile in 48.55 under jockey Javier Castellano.

 

“I thought everyone worked very well,” said Pletcher. “I think Palace Malice worked unbelievably well. To me, it was a monstrous gallop out.

 

“I thought it was a typical work from Overanalyze [in company with Caixa Eletronica],” he added. “He’s not an overzealous work horse. You kind of have to encourage him a little bit. I think when Johnny encouraged him, he responded well.

 

“[For Unlimited Budget], it was similar to what we saw at Churchill. She’s a little better when she works on the outside. I thought her work last week was particularly strong. This week wasn’t quite as strong, but I think switching her to the outside next time you’ll see her a little stronger.

 

“Midnight Taboo continues to train really well,” he went on. “If he gives us another breeze like he did today and last week, I think he has [worked himself into the race]. He’s a horse you can see getting better and better every work and every race.

 

“[With Revolutionary] right after the Derby, we talked to (WinStar Farm president) Elliott (Walden) and we decided to skip the Preakness and go to the Belmont,” said the trainer. “My gut reaction was this horse doesn’t need a lot of training, we’ll give him two half-miles and run. Last week, he was doing so well, I contemplated giving him three breezes, but I decided to stick to my original plan. I’m really happy with the way he went this morning. I think he’s maintained his fitness really, really well.”

 

Pletcher said the jockey situation for the Belmont horses remains somewhat in flux.

 

“We’re still in the process of firming it up,” he said. “We’ve got Mike Smith to ride Palace Malice, Johnny [Velazquez] is holding the race for [one of ours], we have Javier on Revolutionary, Garrett Gomez is riding one, and we’ll see what Rosie Napravnik’s situation is.”

 

Napravnik is currently named to ride the Bob Baffert-trained Code West, winner of an allowance race at Pimlico on Preakness Day, in the Belmont.

 

Another Belmont Stakes contender Freedom Child turned in his first breeze since romping in Belmont Park’s Grade II Peter Pan earlier this month, covering five furlongs over the main track Monday morning in 59.87 under exercise rider John Mason.

 

“I thought he went super,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains the Malibu Moon ridgling for West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable, and Spendthrift Farm. “The rider sat there with a nice hold of him and he looked like he was just galloping down the lane. We just wanted to let him go in hand. Typically he can get aggressive when he’s feeling good, so the rider had a nice hold of him early on. It looked like he was just running through the bridle the first three-eighths, and he just gave him a little slack down the lane. He responded well and did it all nice and easy.”

 

Albertrani said he was considering an easy workout for the ridgling before the June 8 Belmont Stakes.

 

“This week he’ll just do some light galloping and maybe a real easy work next time or a good strong gallop out. I just don’t want him to do too much on top of the race. Today was a pretty strong work, so we’ll just kind of let him get there.”

Orb pleases McGaughey in return to the track

Courtesy of NYRA and Churchill Downs publicity departments:

Kentucky Derby winner Orb returned to the Belmont Park main track Thursday morning for the first time since his fourth-place finish in the Preakness, galloping a mile and leaving Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey happy with what he saw.

“I was pleased,” McGaughey said. “We’re taking it as it comes and not looking too far ahead. But if everything goes well, we’d like to run in the Belmont.”

Orb’s fourth place finish behind Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow halted his five-race win streak and was his first loss since breaking his maiden at Aqueduct last November.

The 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, is expected to attract a large field including  Oxbow, currently at Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn at Churchill Downs. Lukas, who has won four editions of the “Test of the Champion,” also is expected to saddle Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, in the 1 ½-miles Belmont.

Lukas’s victory in the Preakness was  his record 14th Triple Crown win after previously being tied with “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons. Lukas scored his 13th Triple Crown win in the 2000 Belmont Stakes with Commendable, who won at odds of nearly 19-1.
“I think the most significant thing for me was to be in the same company with Sunny Fitzsimmons,” Lukas said Thursday. “I found it interesting that he won his last (Triple Crown race) at 82. He meant so much to the industry, so to be with him all those years was enough for me. I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my first and maybe more. It stirred up a lot of old relationships and friendships. I got hundreds of voicemails and texts. It’s special to have so many people come forward. There were a lot of people pulling for us.”
Other likely starters for the Belmont, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, include Peter Pan winner Freedom Child, Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul, Giant Finish, 10th in the Derby, and a sizable  contingent from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher that includes Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, Micomanage, Midnight Taboo and the filly Unlimited Budget. Bob Baffert trainees Code West and possibly Power Broker are also under consideration.

 

LoPresti mulling Firecracker start for HOY Wise Dan

Trainer Charlie LoPresti says he’s in a bad spot. But really, it’s among the most enviable positions one could ask for as a horseman.

He’s got his two top runners both ready to jump out of their skin and race. But since they share common bloodlines and ownership, he doesn’t want the half brothers to have to clash unless circumstances deem it necessary.

Since reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan already has a mantle full of Grade I trophies, LoPresti is trying to perfect a juggling act that would allow the 6-year-old gelding’s older sibling to build up a resume as strong as his form suggests he is.

In an effort to keep Wise Dan and his 7-year-old half brother Successful Dan from facing one another, LoPresti said from his Keeneland base Thursday he is considering pointing the three-time Eclipse Award winner to the Grade II Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 29 while keeping Successful Dan aimed at the Grade I Stephen Foster over the main track on June 15.

The  $150,000-added Firecracker marked the first career turf start for Wise Dan when he won the one-mile test back in 2011. Morton Fink’s homebred Wiseman’s Ferry gelding has famously gone on to become one of the great grass runners in the world, having won five straight Grade I contests on the turf including his recent 4 3/4-length waltz in the 1 1/8-miles Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4.

Form wise, the Firecracker wouldn’t  figure to be anything but a paid workout for Wise Dan before he heads to Saratoga for the summer.  Though Fink – who also owns Successful Dan – suggested they get Wise Dan ready for the Foster in case his injury-prone half brother has a setback, LoPresti doesn’t want to get his champion set to run only to have him sit in the barn for another month.

“Mr. Fink is like ‘Why don’t we start thinking about Wise Dan for the Foster in case something happens with Successful Dan’ and I said ‘That is all well and good but that’s not fair to crank that horse up and have him ready to run and have him sit the barn and do nothing and we risk getting him hurt as insurance just in case Successful Dan doesn’t go’,” LoPresti said. “But (Fink) brought up a good point in that…you’ve got 2 ½ months in between races. So he brought up running in a race at Woodbine and he brought up the Firecracker and I said I would rather go in the Firecracker. So that’s probably what we’re looking at is Wise Dan in Firecracker and Successful Dan in the Foster.

“It puts me in a bad spot because what happens if Successful  Dan gets hurt…I can’t just pull Wise Dan out of the barn,” LoPresti continued. “We either have to train him for that race and if he doesn’t run, he doesn’t run. That’s not fair for him to just sit there. And I don’t want to run them against each other because what if I deny one of them? I’d rather someone else beat them than me beat them with my own horse.”

There is unfinished business in the Stephen Foster where Wise Dan is concerned as he was beat a head in that race by Ron the Greek last year, his lone loss in six starts in 2012. Successful Dan, however, has been plagued by suspensory issues throughout his career and has yet to notch a Grade I victory from his 12 career starts.

The winner of the Grade III Ben Ali Stakes in his seasonal bow at Keeneland this April, Successful Dan has crossed the wire first in all four career starts at Churchill Downs but was disqualified to third in the 2010 edition of the Grade I Clark Handicap. The Successful Appeal gelding also holds the track record for 1 1/16-miles over the main track at Churchill having covered the distance in 1:41.04 when he captured the Grade II Alysheba Stakes last May.

“Successful Dan, I think he deserves a chance. He’s never had a chance to run in any of those good races like that other than the Alysheba last year,” LoPresti said. “He never got a chance to run in the  (Grade I) Whitney (last summer), he never got a chance to run in any Breeders’ Cup races because it’s always been not his time. And right now he’s good.”

Following his potential run in the Firecracker, LoPresti is planning to point Wise Dan toward the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga in August – a contest he won last year to launch his current six-race winning streak. From there, LoPresti said he would “toy with” the idea of putting the reigning champion back on the dirt in the Grade I Woodward Stakes, though that would also be dependent on Successful Dan’s progress.

“It all hinges on what Successful Dan does too,” LoPresti said. “I would love to have the chance to go with one in the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic and one in the Mile. That would be a good thing to have, two horses in the Breeders’ Cup.”

 

Preakness viewership up 20 percent; highest since 2009

NBC press release:

NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes drew 9.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched Preakness since 2009, and the fourth most-watched dating back to 1990. The viewership for the race is up 20 percent from last year’s Preakness (8.1 million), according to official national data provided today by The Nielsen Company.

Saturday’s race (5:50-6:39 p.m. ET), won by Oxbow, with jockey Gary Stevens, is the most-watched Preakness Stakes since 2009 when super-filly Rachel Alexandra captivated the country by defeating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird (10.9 million). It is the fourth most-watched Preakness dating back to 1990, surpassed only by the aforementioned 2009 race, the 2006 Preakness, which featured Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro (10.1 million), and the 2004 Preakness, won by Smarty Jones (11.6 million).

  • The household rating of 5.9/14 is up 13 percent from last year’s race (5.2/13), the highest since 2009 (6.8/16), and the second best since 2006 (6.6/16).
  • NBC Sports Network’s two-hour pre-race show (2:30-4:40 p.m. ET) drew 466,000 viewers, a gain of 99 percent from last year (234,000).

The Preakness viewership gains follow the Kentucky Derby, which drew 16.2 million viewers on NBC, making it the second most-watched Kentucky Derby since 1989. The viewership was up nine percent from last year’s Derby (14.8 million) and up 12 percent from the Derby in 2011 (14.5 million).

 

Since NBC began broadcasting the Preakness in 2001, every Preakness telecast on NBC over that period has attracted more viewers than any Preakness telecast on ABC in the previous eight years.  Viewership for the Preakness is up an average of 61% in the 13 years on NBC compared to the previous eight years on ABC.

 

PREAKNESS ON NBC (2001-2013)                     

Year Viewers Winner
2013 9.7 million Oxbow
2012 8.1 million I’ll Have Another
2011 8.8 million Shackleford
2010 8.4 million Lookin at Lucky
2009 10.9 million Rachel Alexandra
2008 7.9 million Big Brown
2007 8.4 million Curlin
2006 10.1 million Bernardini
2005 9.3 million Afleet Alex
2004 11.6 million Smarty Jones
2003 8.6 million Funny Cide
2002 9.2 million War Emblem
2001 8.7 million Point Given

 

PREAKNESS ON ABC (1993-2000)

Year Viewers Winner
2000 5.5 million Red Bullet
1999 4.9 million Charismatic
1998 5.2 million Real Quiet
1997 6.9 million Silver Charm
1996 5.1 million Louis Quatorze
1995 4.7 million Timber Country
1994 6.5 million Tabasco Cat
1993 7.0 million Prairie Bayou

 

TOP METERED MARKETS FOR 2013 PREAKNESS STAKES (Race Portion)

1. Baltimore 15.7/32
2. Louisville 15.0/27
3. Oklahoma City 11.2/20
4. Knoxville 11.1/20
5. Ft. Myers 10.6/20
6. West Palm Beach 10.2/20
7. Cincinnati  9.1/18
8. Greensboro  9.0/17
9. Washington D.C.  8.9/21
10. Buffalo  8.6/20
11. Orlando  8.5/19
12. Columbus  8.2/18
13. Detroit  8.0/19
14. Indianapolis  7.6/17
T15. Hartford  7.5/15
T15. Tampa  7.5/15
T15. Las Vegas  7.5/15
18. Boston  7.2/18
19. Tulsa  6.9/14
20. New York  6.7/15

Oxbow, Lukas energized after Preakness triumph

BALTIMORE – Hours after saddling his record 14th winner in a Triple Crown race, D. Wayne Lukas’ reward to himself was doubling up on the scoops of ice cream that went with his celebratory hot apple pie.

 

Gregarious celebrations never have been part of the Hall of Fame trainer’s routine. For Lukas, the real treat came at around 4:40 a.m. Sunday morning when he walked into the shedrow and saw the horse who notched his latest milestone looking as almost as fresh as his ageless conditioner.

 

At 77 years of age, Lukas is still seeking out those who can keep up with the pace he has set over the decades. Having sent Calumet Farm’s Oxbow out to an upset win in the 138th Preakness Stakes Saturday, Lukas discussed the possibility of adding to his record total of classic wins when the Belmont Stakes rolls around on June 8.

 

Like the man in charge of his care, Oxbow possesses an energy that rarely dulls. After being close to a pace that cooked everyone else around it, the son of Awesome Again fought on to finish a respectable sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

 

When he crossed the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front in the Preakness, stunning the likes of Kentucky Derby winner Orb with his gate-to-wire exploits, Oxbow continued to tout himself with his post-race enthusiasm.

 

“You know what impressed me the most was the gallop out. That rascal was opening up 6-7 lengths on the gallop out,” said Lukas, who notched his sixth Preakness win, one behind Robert Walden all-time record. “There were a couple of them struggling a bit but he wasn’t. I was amazed how fresh he was after the race, no stress at all. He never even broke a sweat.”

 

The 1 3/16-miles Preakness was the third career victory and sixth start already this year for Oxbow. Coming back in three weeks for the 1 1/2-miles Belmont Stakes – where he will likely face Orb again – should be right in the wheelhouse of the colt known for wearing out his exercise riders.

 

“Every day we take him out there I tell the gallop boy, you can’t keep letting him roll around there like that, you have to get a hold of him and he says ‘Boss, I’m trying,” Lukas said. “I say ‘Tomorrow we’ll just do less’ and then we do the same damn thing. He is some kind of tough.”

 

“Anybody that wants to come and tangle with him early on, bring it on,” said Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who masterfully got Oxbow to relax through an opening half mile in :48.60 Saturday. “You’re going to get in trouble if you tangle with him.”

 

Unlike his sweeping outside move in the Kentucky Derby, Orb was never able to free himself from being stuck inside after breaking from post position No. 1, finishing a shockingly well-beaten fourth Saturday.

 

True to his classy nature, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey digested the disappointment of having Orb’s Triple Crown hopes dashed with great perspective. In stating that he “sure would like to” go on to the Belmont Stakes, McGaughey wants to give the colt who had won five straight and trained brilliantly a shot at labeling his Preakness outing a fluke.

 

“Obviously we’re disappoint but he came back fine. I do think he’s better than the race he ran yesterday,” McGaughey said. “I’m not sure I’ve figured out why we didn’t run quite as well as we needed to but…my hat’s off to Wayne. He’s a remarkable guy.”

 

Lukas said that in addition to Oxbow, he would consider running Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, back in the Belmont. Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday is considered “50-50” at best for the Belmont, according to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. while third place finisher Mylute and Grade I winner Goldencents, who ran fifth, are likely to get some time off.

 

“It doesn’t make sense to go on to the Belmont,” said Doug O’Neill, trainer of Goldencents. “We had talked prior (to the Preakness) that if we didn’t run huge and came out of it great, we wouldn’t come back in three weeks.”

 

Among the other possible runners for the Belmont are Golden Soul and Revolutionary – the second and third place finishers, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby – Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child, Grade I winner Overanalyze and Power Broker. Trainer Todd Pletcher also previously indicated he would consider starting fillies Unlimited Budget and Dreaming of Julia in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

 

“I’m sure there will be horses coming out of the woodwork now to try and win the Belmont. If he comes out of it good, I would like the chance,” McGaughey said. “It would have sure been fun to go on (with a Triple Crown on the line) but we’ll go on in another respect. I’ll be disappointed but we won a Kentucky Derby and that’s what we started out to try and do. We just didn’t get the whole thing done.”

 

Orb draws rail, made even-money pick for Preakness Stakes

BALTIMORE – Pretty much the last post position trainer Shug McGaughey would have wished on his charge Orb heading into Saturday’s Preakness Stakes was the inside rail in the nine-horse field.

 
In what may be the first bit of non-exceptional news the bay colt has been associated with in weeks, the No. 1 slot is exactly where the Kentucky Derby winner landed for the start of his quest to secure the second leg of the Triple Crown.

 
True to his collected nature, McGaughey barely so much as flinched even as a smattering of audible groans cropped up around him.

 
If what the Hall of Fame trainer has seen continues to hold true, it’s going to take more than a minor bump in the road to bring Orb back to the field.
Even with a less than ideal inside post, Phipps Stables and Stuart Janney III’s homebred classic winner Orb was made the overwhelming even-money favorite over eight others for the 138th running of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

 
Though no horse has won the Preakness from post No. 1 since Tabasco Cat in 1994, overmatched longshots have typically been fated to that slot in recent times. Since 1994, the only Preakness starters who landed in the No. 1 post and went off at single-digit odds were Cherokee’s Boy (8th in 2003) and Lion Heart (4th in 2004).

 
Where the No. 1 post is considered the kiss of death in the Kentucky Derby – a imposition that forces that unfortunate soul to have to angle away from the rail and then deal with up to 19 rivals closing in on them – there is not such automatic doom associated with the same spot in the smaller Preakness field.

 
Given Orb’s preference to take back off the pace anyhow, his connections were mildly subdued by the news, but in no way deterred.

 
“If I had come out the ‘1’ in the Derby, you’d almost have felt like you needed to go home,” McGaughey said. “But I don’t feel that way here. It’s not nearly (as bad) as it would be for the Derby. In the Derby…you have to kind of shove your way out of there or your going to get shut off and I don’t think that will be the case here.
“It’s a pretty straight start, there are only nine horses. I think we’ll just hold our position and see how the race spreads out.”

 
Where jockey Joel Rosario ultimately settles Orb in the 1 3/16-miles test will be determined in part by how the race’s expected speedsters respond after the break.
Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents and his forwardly-placed ways will be right alongside Orb in post No. 2 with Titletown Five, another who has shown early speed, in post No. 3.

 
“We’re completely comfortable with No. 2. If all goes well, (Orb) is going to be behind us – at least early,” said Goldencents’s trainer Doug O’Neill, who won last year’s Preakness with I’ll Have Another. “That’s where having a cool-headed guy like (jockey) Kevin (Krigger) will come into play. We have a horse who has gate speed and we’ll just have to see how it works out.”

 
Mylute, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, was made the 5-to-1 second choice out of post No. 5 with Illinois Derby winner Departing the 6-to-1 choice breaking from post No. 4.

 
“Orb isn’t going to go on with it so he’s going to have to go around,” said Al Stall Jr., trainer of Departing. “Out of the nine number, the ‘1’ is  probably the one you want the least.”

 
The last time McGaughey saddled a Preakness starter was 1989 when his champion Easy Goer ended up the beaten favorite after a memorable stretch duel with Kentucky Derby hero Sunday Silence.

 
Where McGaughey came into that year’s Preakness unsure what Easy Goer would have for his rival, Orb would need to show some regression off his 2 1/2 length Kentucky Derby triumph to really level the playing field Saturday.

 
There was no such evidence during Orb’s four-furlong move at Belmont Park on Monday when the son of Malibu Moon covered the distance in :47.18 while looking as if he was in a high gallop.

 
“That’s as pretty a work as a Derby horse going into the Preakness can do in my opinion,” said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has three Preakness starters in Will Take Charge, Oxbow and Titletown Five. “I have great respect for the way that horse is going to show up.”

 
Since he is the unabashed top target for the rest of the 3-year-old division currently, the No. 1 slot might just prove that much more fitting for Orb come Saturday evening.

 
“It’s a different feeling being here as the Derby winner but I’m relishing that too,” McGaughey said. “I think there is more there with him. I can’t wait to run him Saturday afternoon and I hope we’ll see something special.”

 

Orb gives McGaughey “chills” in pre-Preakness work

Showcasing the same ease as he did leading up to his Kentucky Derby triumph, Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb sparked slack-jawed reactions Monday when he worked four furlongs in 47.18 at Belmont Park in preparation for his start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

 
With regular exercise rider Jennifer Patterson aboard, Orb stepped onto the main track shortly after 6 a.m.  Breaking off at the half-mile pole, Orb was caught by The New York Racing Association, Inc. clockers going the first quarter in 24.47 and galloping out five furlongs in 59.54.

 
Afterward, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said the move gave him “cold chills” and said he thought it was even more impressive than Orb’s final work at Churchill Downs.

 
“I thought it was nothing short of magnificent,” McGaughey said. “He broke off very relaxed and finished up unbelievably, just on his own. I was shocked when I looked down at my watch and saw he worked from the eighth-pole to the wire in 11-and-change.

 
“He was covering the ground as good as a horse could cover it.”

 
McGaughey added he was not concerned about the quick fractions.

 
“No, not at all, because of the way that he did it,” he said. “If he’d been struggling or she’d been asking, (maybe). I think it’s a tribute to the way he came out of the Derby.”

 
After cooling out, Orb was loaded on a van shortly after 10 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico in mid-afternoon.

 
The list of possible contenders Orb is likely to face shrunk again Monday when trainer Rudy Rodriguez informed Maryland Jockey Club officials Monday that Vyjack, the 18th-place Derby finisher, will not be entered in the Preakness Stakes.

 
Vyjack’s defection leaves a probable field of nine currently for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

 
Trainer Bob Baffert said a final decision on whether to run Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie in the Preakness will likely be made Tuesday. Govenor Charlie showed that he has recovered from a foot bruise that kept him out of the Kentucky Derby with a sharp six-furlong work in 1:10.80 Monday at Churchill Downs.

 
“He worked good enough to run,” Baffert said. “I think today we’re caught up for the little time that we lost. He went very, very well. That’s a call that I have to make.”

 
Mylute, the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, was also among the handful of Preakness candidates working at Churchill Downs Monday. The Tom Amoss-trainee drilled a half-mile in :49.60  on his own with jockey Rosie Napravnik up.

 
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent Oxbow and Will Take Charge, his sixth- and eighth-place Kentucky Derby finishers, respectively, to the track for four-furlong workouts Monday at Churchill.

 
Oxbow, with jockey Gary Stevens, came out to work a half-mile in :49.80 while Will Take Charge covered the same distance in :48.20.

 
“We varied them a bit, but it was pretty much what I wanted,” said Lukas of Oxbow and Will Take Charge. “Coming off a tough race in the mud (in the Derby), the tendency sometimes is to do too much.”

 
Titletown Five, who will be ridden in the Preakness by Julien Leparoux, was the first Lukas horse on the track Monday and he open-galloped 1 ¼ miles with a blowout down the stretch that was not recorded by clockers.

 
“I think it’s formidable,” said McGaughey of the prospective field. “I know that Oxbow made a good run in the Derby. I never really kind of sat down and watched it and pinned it down. The other horse (Will Take Charge) got in some trouble. My main concern is just trying to get Orb over there the best way we possibly can, and if he runs his race I think they’ll know he’s in there.”

 

 

For video of Orb’s breeze, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mSvz50gfbw

For a post-breeze interview with Shug McGaughey, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWtfJ4uRejI

Normandy Invasion to bypass Preakness Stakes; Departing works at Churchill

Courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club:

 

Trainer Chad Brown reported Sunday afternoon that Rick Porter’s Normandy Invasion will not run in the Preakness Stakes.

 

 “Mr. Porter and I decided to pass on the Preakness with Normandy Invasion and focus on the summer campaign with him,” Brown said.

 

 Normandy Invasion turned in a strong performance in the Kentucky Derby, taking the lead in the stretch before finishing fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Orb. Brown had initially ruled out the Preakness on the morning after the Derby but decided on Monday to consider the middle jewel of the Triple Crown for a few days.

 

The declaration of Normandy Invasion leaves the potential Preakness field with ten probables, including Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Holy Bull Stakes winner Itsmyluckyday. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said a decision on whether to run Gotham Stakes winner Vyjack, who finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby, may not be made until Wednesday when entries are taken.

 

With trainer Al Stall Jr. and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. watching from the grandstand, Illinois Derby winner Departing – one of the new shooters expected for the Preakness – worked a half-mile in 50 2/5 seconds over a fast track at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning in preparation for the 1 3/16-miles classic.

With former jockey Larry Melancon up, Departing worked on his own while producing fractions of :13 1/5, :25 2/5, :38 1/5 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03 4/5.

“I wanted him to go a little slower the first part than the second part and he hit right on what we were looking for,” Stall said. “He did enough to get the day off tomorrow. He is a gelding and doesn’t carry a lot of weight. He had galloped two miles on Thursday and a spirited mile and half Friday.”

Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing is scheduled to walk Monday and then train Tuesday and Wednesday morning before shipping to Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday afternoon. Stall said he has a 2 p.m. flight Wednesday and would be in Baltimore in time for the Preakness draw that afternoon.

Departing will be the second Preakness starter for Stall, whose Terrain finished seventh in 2009 behind eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Like Terrain, Departing did not run in the Kentucky Derby prior to the Preakness.

“After the Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby was off the table with the point system,” Stall said. “It worked out well for us. The Illinois Derby billed itself as a prep for the Preakness and hopefully we can make it successful for the Illinois Derby.”

As many as eight horses that ran in the Derby remain under consideration for the Preakness, headed by Orb.

Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb visited the Belmont Park paddock before galloping 1 ½ miles over a sloppy track Sunday morning.

Trainer Shug McGaughey also continued to stay busy with a flood of media requests that come with saddling the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

“I think it’s a big responsibility to accommodate what’s out there and try to portray what the win means to all of us – myself and my family, the Janneys and Phippses and their families and all the people at the barn,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I’d like to get it out there to people that racing can be a fun and rewarding sport.”

Orb, who captured the Derby by 2 ½ lengths, is scheduled to breeze at Belmont Park Monday morning, as long as the track at Belmont dries out.

“I think it will be fine. The sun’s out, there’s no humidity and the wind’s picking up. I think it’ll be fine,” said McGaughey, who is planning to ship Orb to Pimlico Monday following the scheduled breeze.

 

Trainer Doug O’Neill has decided not to work the Santa Anita Derby winner between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, who has been overseeing the care of O’Neill’s 14 horses at Pimlico, said that a plan for a breeze Monday morning had been scrapped and the colt will gallop up to the Preakness.

“It was never certain that he was going to work. It was kind of tentative,” Sisterson said. “We never worked I’ll Have Another, so we’re going to stay on that schedule.”

O’Neill sent 2012 Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Pimlico two days after his victory at Churchill Downs. The colt flourished in the low-key atmosphere at Pimlico, turned in vigorous gallops and won the Preakness. Goldencents disappointed as the third choice in the Derby wagering, finishing 17th on the sloppy, sealed racetrack. O’Neill followed suit, though, and shipped Goldencents to Pimlico, where he resumed his morning-gallop schedule last Friday under his regular jockey, Kevin Krigger.

 

”He’s getting enough out of his training where he doesn’t need to work,” Sisterson said. “He’s doing very well.”

Krigger put Goldencents through the same routine Sunday, jogging down the stretch and around the first turn before sending him off to gallop a lap of the track.

“The one thing we’re starting to notice is he’s getting better each day,” Sisterson said. “He hasn’t put a foot wrong since we got here. He seems to be really getting over the track well and striding out. We’re very happy with him.”

O’Neill is scheduled to travel from California to Baltimore on Sunday and be at the barn at Pimlico Monday morning.

Itsmyluckyday worked a half mile in 47.20 between races at Monmouth Park Sunday afternoon in preparation for a start in the Preakness. Elvis Trujillo was aboard for the move.

Itsmyluckyday was ridden by Trujillo in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 15th, but Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the mount for the Preakness. Trujillo had previously ridden the Florida-bred colt to victory in the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull before a second-place finish behind Orb in the Florida Derby.

 

Mike Pegram’s Govenor Charlie had an easy two-mile gallop under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez at Churchill Downs Sunday morning. The Bob Baffert trainee, who schooled in the Churchill paddock during Sunday’s first race, is scheduled to work Monday as is Tom Amoss trainee Mylute and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained trio of Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Titletown Five.

 

“Oxbow and Will Take Charge will work in the morning and Titletown Five will breeze through the stretch,” Lukas said.

 

“It will be an easy half, nothing fancy,” Amoss said of Mylute’s planned move.

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