Courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club:
Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb pleased trainer Shug McGaughey during his morning visit to the sloppy track at Belmont Park Thursday. The Kentucky Derby winner also gave exercise rider Jenn Patterson all the right signs in his preparation for the 138th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.
“He jogged three-eighths to a half-mile and galloped a mile. I thought everything was good,” said McGaughey, whose colt had jogged a mile on a sloppy track Wednesday in his first visit to the track since his 2 ½-length victory at Churchill Downs last Saturday. “The track was still sloppy. Jenn said he was kind of bucking and playing and jumping the water puddles on the backstretch. I was pleased with what I saw. His energy level is right where you’d want it to be on Thursday after Saturday.”
McGaughey outlined the challenge he faces while preparing Orb for a return to the races in just two weeks.
“The first thing we’ve got to do and what we’ve been doing is getting him over his last race – try to get him back on his feet the best we can, get him fresh and happy again,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “Next week, we’ll get him ready to run again and that’ll hopefully be through the breeze on Monday. We just want to put him back in the game. We don’t need anything fast, just something that puts his mind back on what he’s doing. Then, we’ll get him to Pimlico and get him acclimated. There’s not much else we can do.”
McGaughey, who said it was likely that Orb would ship to Pimlico on Monday following his breeze that morning, expressed confidence that his Derby winner was up to the challenge of running back in two weeks.
“Day in and day out, with your better horses, you don’t want to run them back in two weeks, because they give you a lot when they run. You’ve got to train them a little bit to get them to run again,” McGaughey said. “There’s no compromise here. You’ve got to do it. You’ve just got to hope you haven’t drained your horse over the winter with prep races and his training, so he can bounce out of a big race like he had on Derby Day. But I think we’ll be fine.”
Goldencents, the only Preakness candidate on the Pimlico grounds thus far, is also set for the two-week turnaround following his 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Into Mischief returned to the track for the first time since the Derby Thursday morning when he jogged once around the Pimlico oval under jockey Kevin Krigger.
The Santa Anita Derby winner was shipped from Kentucky Monday afternoon and arrived at Pimlico early Tuesday morning. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt walked the shedrow Tuesday and Wednesday morning and was given his first bit of exercise for the Preakness by Krigger at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said that Goldencents will jog and gallop Friday morning and will have a timed workout on Monday.
“Basically, this morning was just to have him stretch his legs, get warmed up for tomorrow,” Krigger said. “It was more to feel how good he felt and he felt perfect today. Everything was good. He was smooth, graceful on the track, and relaxed. That’s all the factors you’re looking for.”
O’Neill sent 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Pimlico the Monday after the race to prepare for the Preakness, which the colt won. Though Goldencents did not match I’ll Have Another’s result in the Derby, finishing 17th after contesting the early pace, O’Neill is using a similar program to get him to the Preakness.
“It was successful last year, so why change it?” Sisterson said.
Goldencents, a three-time stakes winner, got his first look at the Pimlico track during the easy jog.
“This is one of the first steps training-wise leading up to the Preakness,” Sisterson said. “We just jogged him and we were very happy. There was no sign of stiffness or tightness. His energy level was high. He’s a very happy horse.”
Krigger has ridden Goldencents in all seven of his career starts and said the Derby, run on a sloppy, sealed track at Churchill Downs, was an uncharacteristic performance.
“The key to him is to have him run his race,” Krigger said. “If you look at the Kentucky Derby, at least to me, that wasn’t the race we expected to see out of him at all. We had a lot of factors in the race that could have been the reason. We’re here trying to regroup, gather him back up and get back on the winning trail.”
As of Thursday, as many as eight Derby starters could make the same quick turnaround at Pimlico. The Al Stall Jr.-trained Departing, who captured the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne in his last start, will have the luxury of four weeks between starts.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who is looking forward to his first Preakness appearance, recalled his first ride aboard Departing at Fair Grounds last December. Seven weeks after capping off his 27th birthday with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Fort Larned, Hernandez was on a roll at Fair Grounds with four victories from eight mounts.
“I had just won on Bind and Al was bragging on this first-time starter in the next race,” Hernandez said. “That was Departing. I had never been on him and he ran huge. He was my fifth winner and the most impressive.”
Fast forward nearly five months later and Departing, owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, has emerged as one of the top contenders to Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Preakness.
Hernandez has been aboard Departing for all five of his starts, all victories save for a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby.
Following the Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby was ruled out and Departing was pointed to the Illinois Derby, a race he won by 3 ¼ lengths despite breaking from the No. 13 post position.
“After the Louisiana Derby, they made the plan to go to the Illinois Derby and then the Preakness,” Hernandez said. “I can’t be disappointed in missing the Derby. We have a chance to upset Orb and the Preakness is not a bad race to run in.”
“After this meet was over, I used to ride at Delaware Park and I have ridden some at Laurel but never at Pimlico,” Hernandez said. “I am going to go over a day early and ride a horse for Al (Tread in the Miss Preakness Stakes).”
Departing continued his Preakness preparations Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, galloping two miles over a fast track under Trina Pasckvale.
“We changed it up a little bit this morning, but we had the luxury to do that,” Stall said of a break in the regular routine of galloping 1 ½ miles.
With a 60-percent chance of rain in the forecast for Friday, Stall said he plans to give Departing his final work for the Preakness at Churchill on Sunday morning.
GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute jogged in the mile chute and then galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs for trainer Tom Amoss.
Amoss said a decision on the fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher’s status for the Preakness would be made after training Saturday. If Mylute is a go for Baltimore, he would represent a second Preakness starter for Amoss, who saddled Hot Wells for a fourth-place finish behind Real Quiet in 1998.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent all three of his Preakness candidates to the track at Churchill Thursday morning. Oxbow and Will Take Charge, the sixth- and eighth-place Derby finishers, respectively, galloped 1 ½ miles. Titletown Five jogged twice around the track.
Bob Baffert-trained Govenor Charlie also jogged at Churchill.
On the morning after his arrival at Monmouth Park from Churchill Downs, Itsmyluckyday went to the track for a two-mile jog Thursday morning.
“It was kind of a nasty morning and since we just arrived yesterday from Churchill we just jogged him,” said Frankie Perez, assistant to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who was enroute from South Florida to New Jersey. ”From a scale from one to 10, he was a 10.”
The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull winner, who finished a disappointing 15th in the Kentucky Derby, will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the Preakness.
Normandy Invasion jogged in the rain at Belmont Park for a second day Thursday. Trainer Chad Brown said that the fourth-place finisher in the Derby is 50-50 for the Preakness. He expects to make a decision over the weekend after he has had a chance to watch the Tapit colt gallop.
Vyjack remains a candidate for the Preakness, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Thursday that no decision has been made on whether Pick Six Racing’s gelding will be entered. Due to the wet weather in New York this week, Rodriguez has not been able to do very much with the gelding since he returned from Kentucky after finishing 18th in the Derby.
“We’ve been babying him,” Rodriguez said. “I would like to gallop him and see what’s going on.”
Rodriguez said that after he has the opportunity to watch Vyjack gallop a couple days, he will talk about the Preakness with owner David Wilkenfeld.
“I’m just going to wait and make my decision and then tell the owner what is going on,” he said. “So far, everything is good. I have to talk with the owner first and see what he wants to do.”
Trainer Greg Geier said Thursday that he will make a decision on running James Tafel’s Street Spice in the Preakness after he breezes the colt Saturday morning in Chicago. Tafel bred and owned 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who is the sire of Street Spice. Geier trains eight horses for Tafel.