BALTIMORE, 05-05-13—Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday, May 14 to begin final preparations for the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday, May 18.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed his plans to run the Malibu Moon colt in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown during a Sunday morning phone call with Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas and two other Preakness officials. Pimlico officials traditionally call the winner of the Kentucky Derby to extend a formal invitation to come to Baltimore.
“I’m looking forward to getting this process going again and running in the Preakness,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey has had two Preakness starters: Pine Circle, fifth in 1984; Easy Goer, who finished second to Sunday Silence after an epic battle in 1989.
“We are tickled to death with the way he ran yesterday and he seemed to come out of the race well,” added McGaughey. “I am looking forward to getting there. We had a great two weeks down here and I am sure our time at Pimlico will be every bit as good. We are planning on bringing him Tuesday of Preakness week.”
Orb, bred and owned by Maryland native Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, won the Kentucky Derby by 2- 1/2 lengths after making a powerful move to the lead under jockey Joel Rosario. It was the first Derby victory for McGaughey, who has developed a number of champions during his distinguished career, including the unbeaten Personal Ensign.
Five runners that followed Orb to the wire in the Derby – Mylute (5th), Oxbow (6th), Will Take Charge (8th), Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th) – are considered candidates to challenge Orb in the Preakness.
On the list of new shooters for the Preakness are Illinois Derby (G3) winner Departing, Sunland Derby (G3) winner Govenor Charlie, Southwest (G3) runner-up Fear the Kitten and allowance winner Bellarmine.
Orb, Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Goldencents and Departing are regarded as likely starters. Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Govenor Charlie, Bellarmine and Fear the Kitten are possible starters for the 1 3/16ths mile race.
Goldencents, trained by 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Doug O’Neill, will be shipped to Pimlico this week. O’Neill broke with recent form last year and brought Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Baltimore two days after his Derby win. He said Sunday morning that he liked that experience and is anxious to send Goldencents and 10 other runners to Pimlico.
“He came out of it good and we’re going to do the right thing by the horse,” O’Neill said. “As long as he continues to do well, we’re going to try the Preakness.”
Team O’Neill could arrive in Baltimore as early as Tuesday, May 7.
O’Neill said that he has been impressed by Orb.
“I thought he ran great,” O’Neill said. “He’s a dynamite horse. He looked great on paper. He looked great in the flesh the whole week watching him train and he ran accordingly. He’s the real deal.”
That said, O’Neill is willing to tackle Orb again in two weeks.
“It’s what horse racing is all about,” he said. “They don’t hand you anything. As good as he is, if Goldencents rebounds and gets back to his Santa Anita Derby effort, I think we have a chance to be right there.”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a five-time winner of the Preakness, will be represented by LeComte (G3) winner Oxbow and Rebel (G2) winner Will Take Charge and acknowledged Sunday that Orb presents a tough challenge.
“We are all going to have to get better to beat him,” Lukas said, who has had at least one starter in 25 of the past 33 years. “I think the Preakness will be the biggest hurdle for him for the Triple Crown. If he gets by that, he gets to go back home to Belmont and run right out of his stall.”
Mylute, co-owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, acted like a horse who still had plenty of energy and his connections started thinking about the Preakness.
“We need a couple more days to think about it,” GoldMark Farm general manager Todd Quast said after he and trainer Tom Amoss checked on the Louisiana Derby runner-up in his stall. “You wouldn’t not want to go from what you see today, that’s for sure. When he came out of the Louisiana Derby he was so high that we worked him back eight days later. If he comes back with that kind of energy we have to seriously look at it.”
Mylute’s jockey Rosie Napravnik is looking forward to her first opportunity to ride in Maryland’s premier race. Napravnik began her career at Pimlico in June 2005 as a 17-year-old and built her reputation in Maryland. She was a regular rider in the state through 2008 and topped the jockey standings in 2006 and 2008.
“There’s no other race I would rather be in and win,” Napravnik said.
Only two female riders have had a Preakness mount: PJ Cooksey (1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (1994).
Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. said Itsmyluckyday was “60-40” for the Preakness after a disappointing performance in the Derby.
“We have to blame it on the (sloppy) race track. It’s not just making an excuse. He trained too well to run so bad,” Plesa said. “You could see where he was struggling with the racetrack all the way around. It wasn’t a case of soundness; it was a question of handling the racetrack.”
Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Monday morning.
Departing has won four of five career starts for trainer Al Stall and the War Front gelding was confirmed as a Preakness horse Sunday morning. Stall said that Claiborne Farm principal Seth Hancock told him in a text at 9 a.m. before going to church that he was leaning toward running.
“He called me after church and said, ‘Let’s go forward,’” Stall said.
Departing, bred and co-owned by Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider, was on the Kentucky Derby trail until he finished third in the Louisiana Derby on March 30. The 3-1/4-length victory in the Illinois Derby on April 20 got him back on track to compete in the Triple Crown races.
“We were kind of pointing toward the Preakness no matter who was going to be there, really,” Stall said. “I was unbelievably impressed with the way Orb trained and the way he ran. He’s going to be a monster horse to try to beat. We just have our horse on a good schedule. He’s fresh. I wanted to get a work into him before the Derby, which he did Thursday. We’re very excited how that went and how he came out of it too. All that went into our decision. That’s what made us firm it up today.”
Sagamore Farm’s Heat Press, who finished second in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 27, is considered “unlikely” by trainer Graham Motion.