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Pimlico announces handles up for 2014 meet

Posted on 10 June 2014 by WNST Staff


BALTIMORE, 06-10-14—The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course last weekend with the average daily handle 4.7% higher than 2013. The average daily handle increased from $4.5 million to $4.7 million with one fewer day of live racing. Easter fell during the spring stand this year.

“We had a strong finish with our numbers up 14 times during the last 16 days of the meet,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “Despite running one fewer day, we had more total runners this year so the racing department deserves a great deal of credit.”

The 2014 meet featured 2,689 runners in 344 races (7.82 average), while last year’s spring stand included 2,683 starters in 359 races (7.47 average).

Preakness weekend was a major success as nearly 160,000 fans attended the Black-Eyed Susan (34,736) and Preakness day (123,469) cards at Old Hilltop. During the two days, there were 26 high-quality races, including the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1), and performances by eleven musical acts in the famed infield.

“We would have shattered the Black-Eyed Susan Day attendance and handle records set a year ago if not for the two inches of rain that hit Baltimore that morning which caused six races to come off the turf and discouraged attendance,” added Chuckas. “But I am still proud of what we have done to improve the Preakness weekend and will continue to find ways to sustain the momentum through the end of the meet and beyond.”

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MJC President Chuckas would like to move Preakness back to June

Posted on 19 May 2014 by WNST Staff


BALTIMORE, 05-19-14—At his annual post-Preakness media session this morning in the Pimlico winners’ circle, Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas addressed the potential of moving the date of the Preakness Stakes (G1). Last week, Chuckas told print reporters he wanted to change the spacing of the Triple Crown.

Since 1969, the current order of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on the first Saturday in May, followed by the Preakness two weeks later and the Belmont Stakes (G1) on the first Saturday in June has been in place. However, on eleven occasions the Preakness was run prior to the Derby and twice (1917 and 1922), both were on the same day. The Belmont has been contested before the Preakness eleven times.

“I respect tradition but I also think tradition cannot impede the growth or betterment of the industry,” Chuckas said. “When we get our most attention we tend to consolidate which is not beneficial to the thoroughbred industry as a whole. People might say you will have to put an asterisk by the horse who wins the Triple Crown under these conditions. This schedule has changed often so the bottom line is you don’t have to put an asterisk. If you take a look at the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, all of them have gone through transformations with wild card additions and scheduling changes but do you really believe there should be an asterisk by the Seattle Seahawks because they won the Super Bowl under different conditions that the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 1? I don’t think so.”

Chuckas said he will work with officials at Churchill Downs and the New York Racing Association toward a schedule that has the Kentucky Derby retain its position on the first Saturday in May, while the Preakness would be moved to the first weekend in June and the Belmont Stakes to the first weekend in July.

“The philosophy of the trainers has drastically changed over the years,” added Chuckas. “It is hard for them to bring a horse back from the Derby in two weeks and run a horse three times in a five-week period. Most of them will not do it. But this idea is not just for the Triple Crown races. We have an obligation to the public to put our best racing on the table when the world is watching and we are not doing that. We could promote a Woodford-Dixie-Manhattan series for older turf stars and Triple Crown filly series with the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan and Acorn. All those things are possible but is going to demand a collaborative effort between the parties to make this happen.”

Only three horses from the May 3 Kentucky Derby competed in Saturday’s Preakness.



California Chrome, who will try to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 7, walked the shedrow in the Preakness stakes barn first with assistant trainer Alan Sherman and then with groom Raul Rodriguez Mondaymorning. Trainer Art Sherman stopped by to say goodbye to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner before heading back to California for the next two weeks.

“He came out of that race great, feeling good,” Alan Sherman said. “He is usually tired for a few days but he was feeling really good. I am starting to realize the significance of it all. It has been a great ride this horse has put us on and I never fathomed we would be one race away from winning the Triple Crown.”

Thirty-three horses have been eligible to win the Triple Crown entering the Belmont but just 11 have succeeded. It has been 36 years since Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978. There have been only three Triple Crown winners since Citation in 1948.

California Chrome and Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin will leave Pimlico for Belmont Park Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.

Ride On Curlin, who finished 1 ½ lengths behind California Chrome Saturday afternoon, walked the shedrow at the same time as the Preakness winner.

Social Inclusion, who finished third Saturday, is scheduled to return to the track Friday and will leave for New York Sunday.



One day after headlining the 2014 Preakness InfieldFest concert, Grammy Award winner Lorde picked up another honorSunday night, winning the Top New Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.

The 17-year-old sensation performed a 75-minute set on the main stage Saturday afternoon then watched the Preakness from the rail just passed the finish line, cheering California Chrome to victory in the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.

A record 123,469 fans packed Pimlico Saturday.


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Preakness record 123,469 see California Chrome take second leg of Triple Crown

Posted on 17 May 2014 by WNST Staff


Derby Winner Continues Quest to Become 12th Triple Crown Champion

BALTIMORE, 05-17-14 – California Chrome continued on his quest for a Triple Crown sweep Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, scoring a dominating victory in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) to the enthusiastic approval of a record crowd of 123,469.


Two weeks after capturing the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 1 ¾ lengths, the California-bred 3-year-old colt received yet another heads-up ride from jockey Victor Espinoza on his way to a 1 ½-length triumph over Ride On Curlin in the 139th running of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.


Trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, California Chrome is eligible to become Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion in the 146th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 7 at Belmont Park. The modestly bred California-bred colt will seek to join the company of Triple Crown champions Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973), Citation (1948), Assault (1946), Count Fleet (1943),Whirlaway (1941), War Admiral (1937), Omaha (1935), Gallant Fox (1930) and Sir Barton (1919).


California Chrome, a strong 1-2 favorite in a field of 10, broke alertly and gained stalking position behind early pacesetter Pablo Del Monte. After Ria Antonia, the lone filly in the field, made an early move to challenge the pacesetter heading into the first turn, California Chrome settled in third around the turn and on the backstretch. Social Inclusion, the 5-1 second betting choice ridden by Luis Contreras, made a move outside California Chrome heading into the far turn, prompting Espinoza to ask his horse for some run. The favorite swept past the pacesetter on the turn into the homestretch, engaged to his outside by Social Inclusion, and spurted away in early stretch, never to be challenged again.


California Chrome crossed the finish line clear of Ride On Curlin, who rallied from far back under Joel Rosario to finish second, 6 ½ lengths clear of Social Inclusion. The running time of 1:54.84 for the 1 3/16 miles of the Maryland Jockey Club’s signature race was the fastest since Big Brown was timed in 1:54.80 in 2008.


The Preakness highlighted a 13-race program with nine stakes, including four graded stakes, generating an all-sources handle of $83,786,363, including the $53,655,673 wagered on the Middle Jewel.


The Preakness Day Celebration included performances by Grammy Award winner Lorde and hip-hop icon Nas in the infield.


“It was another fantastic day with the record attendance under ideal conditions,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “We pride ourselves in our hospitality and extend an invitation to Sherman Racing to stay here at Pimlico for as long as they want as the team prepares California Chrome to the Belmont Stakes and a date with destiny.”



Winning Trainer Art Sherman (California Chrome): “He broke great and had a perfect trip. I was so happy when I saw where he was able to set him. Right now he’s really on his toes and doing good. He’s a remarkable horse to come back in two weeks and win. I know he’s not the only horse that ever did that, but it’s tough on a horse to come back in two weeks. I appreciate everyone involved in my team. They did a hell of a job. Both my sons are here. It’s very emotional.

“To me, this race was even a little tougher for me knowing that I’m coming back in a little shorter distance than I normally ever run them and the time I give them to rest between races. I was a little concerned about that, but he’s got a big heart this horse – big.

“Wow. I’ll tell you it’s quite a thrill. I know we had to run harder in this race.  For me, just watching him perform, coming back in two weeks, I was a little concerned.
But I’ll tell you one thing: he’s a real race horse. I’m hoping that the mile and a half is up his alley, too, because he’s a very good horse.

“Oh, you’ve got to have a tear. I’ve got my whole family here. We worked hard all year and Victor (Espinoza) rode him perfect. It’s a dream for any trainer to do this.

“I couldn’t tell how much horse he really had. It was hard for me to get a good view because people were jumping up and down in front of me. But when I looked up at the board, I could see him starting to move away and I felt really good then.”


Winning Jockey Victor Espinoza (California Chrome): “It was not easy, but we got it done. I’m excited and looking forward. I had to start early because the outside horse was pushing me. I thought I had the perfect position, but when the outside horse attacked me, I had to open it up at that point. It was tough today. This race was a little complicated. I saw another horse take the lead, I’m second, then (Ria Antonia) wants to go. I have to steady, steady and I have to hope and make the right decision and hope for the best. Then, I’m sitting third and I think it’s perfect.”


Trainer Billy Gowan (Ride On Curlin, 2nd): “I thought it was awesome. California Chrome ran a great race and he’s a great horse. My horse ran a great race. He was in a good spot down the back. Joel (Rosario) said he got shut off for a second, but he came running in the stretch and gave me a heckuva thrill. I’m really proud. I like the horse; I like everything; I like the Preakness. I think we have to go to the Belmont if he comes out of the race good.”


Jockey Joel Rosario (Ride On Curlin, 2nd): “We had a good race. My horse ran really well. I thought that I had him and we were going strong, but if I got beat, I wanted it to be California Chrome, because he is a great horse. I know my horse is too.”


Owner Ron Sanchez (Social Inclusion, 3rd): “My horse, I would have liked to have seen him on the lead, but that didn’t happen today. I’m proud of my horse. He ran well. Right now, we’re going to the Belmont.”


Jockey Luis Contreras (Social Inclusion, 3rd): “He acted up a little bit in the gate, but it was no big deal at all. The horse ran a really big race today. I can’t tell you how happy I am with this horse. We will get them the next time.”


Trainer Mike Maker (General a Rod, 4th): “He ran well. He may have been a little crowded down the backside. Whether or not that affected anything, we’ll find out.”


Jockey Javier Castellano (General a Rod, 4th): “It was a beautiful trip until the three-eighths pole when I checked him bad. I’m not sure if I could have beat California Chrome, but that sure cost me.”


Trainer Graham Motion (Ring Weekend, 5th): “He got a decent spot but he just didn’t have a real clean trip. A horse stopped in front of him. I don’t think it cost him a lot but it might have cost him a position. I was very pleased with him. I thought he was very game. I thought he ran very competitively. I just wish he’d had a clean trip and then you wouldn’t have any question. We’ll talk about it (Belmont Stakes), definitely. I was very pleased with how he ran today.”


Jockey Alan Garcia (Ring Weekend, 5th): “We had an unbelievably rough trip. We had trouble right from the start, getting bounced around. But he did everything he could.”


Trainer Wesley Ward (Pablo Del Monte, 6th): “He got away good from the gate but then Calvin (Borel) on Ria Antonia put her right with him. I wish we could have gotten away with a 48 (second) half. I would have felt a lot better.”


Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez (Pablo Del Monte, 6th): “He wanted to go for the lead and got over good to a spot. He ran his race.”


Trainer Mark Casse (Dynamic Impact, 7th): “I think we beat three or four horses. We have no excuses. He just didn’t run fast enough.”


Jockey Miguel Mena (Dynamic Impact, 7th): “We got a nice trip and a clean break and got around the turn good. But he struggled a little with the racetrack, but he came running at the end.”


Trainer Linda Rice (Kid Cruz, 8th): “I was a little disappointed, but he was running at the end of it. He just had too much to do. I’m also thrilled that we have a Triple Crown in the making, so that’s really good for racing. I think we still may go after the Belmont because the distance is in his favor. This was a pretty good challenge for him and he did pretty well.”


Jockey Julian Pimentel (Kid Cruz, 8th): “We were really far back on the outside. It took so long to get going. When we started going, he got going pretty good down the lane, but it was just too late.”


Trainer Bob Baffert (Bayern, 9th): “I got a horrible trip. That was a horrible trip. He took a half-step and got bumped. (California Chrome) is something. He’s a cool customer. He does everything right. He’s fast enough to stay out of trouble. Victor rides him with so much confidence. He knows when he has to move into a spot. He has so much acceleration.”


Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Bayern, 9th): “It was very rough. The horses on either side of us sandwiched us so tight we were practically off the ground. We got into a decent position and he still made a run to the quarter pole.”

Trainer Tom Amoss (Ria Antonia, 10th): “Disappointed, but she looks good.”


Jockey Calvin Borel (Ria Antonia, 10th): “My horse ran OK today. We didn’t have any real trouble. She’s a nice horse, but she just didn’t have it in her today.”

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California Chrome owner Coburn: “The hospitality (Maryland has) shown us is top shelf”

Posted on 17 May 2014 by WNST Staff





THE MODERATOR:  We have Victor Espinoza, and we’ll have Steve Coburn and Art Sherman coming in as well.  Victor,  congratulations.  Well done.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you, sir.


Q.  Did you start him earlier than in the past?  If so, is there any reason you did that?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I had to because the outside horse, he was pushing me.  He made me move at the half mile post.  I really don’t want to.  I want to wait as soon as possible.  I thought I was in a perfect position, and I just wanted to wait as long as I can.

But when the outside horse attacked me, and I had to just let it go, slowly.  I don’t want to make a strong move at that point.  But turning for home, he really got after me, and I had to just open it up at that point.


Q.  Does this feel different for you from winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown?  If so, how come?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It was tough today.  It was tough because this race was just a little complicated.  I bounced out of there running out of the gate, and I saw one horse and I was in the right (Indiscernible).  I saw somebody else come by the turn, and he just like trying to go with the other one.  And I had to just like go steady, steady and wait.  And all of those things, I had hope to make the right decision, let the horse clear me and sit in behind him, without even irritating California Chrome.  In a tenth of a second I had to make that decision, and hopefully the best.  After the other horse got cleared, so I sit 3rd and I thought it was perfect.  As soon as I think that, in a half mile, here he comes the other one.  They attacked me too soon.  There he goes.  Wow, this is crazy.  It was a big challenge for me.  I was telling somebody, I don’t even know who I was talking to, like this race it was more tiring mentally than physical because all of the things going on early in the race, wow, I didn’t expect that.


Q.  You said you wanted a second chance at the Triple Crown.  You have one now.  What does it mean to you?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It means a lot, and I’m ready.  I’m ready for it.  Hopefully California Chrome comes back good.  It’s tough, but I’m just glad to have my second chance in my career. In a million years I didn’t think I was going to have a second chance.  I was very close for once.  But it will work out.  Life goes on, and over a decade, here we go.  I’m here again.


Q.  Has this been the toughest race for you, and why?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  This Preakness was tough.  I’m telling you.  There are some horses, some fresh horses, and they attacked me very soon that I won.  And the way this race was set up, it was just kind of complicated.  I mean, I’m just glad that I don’t study the form, because it will work out the way the form looks.  The way you think the horses are going to go, everything is different.  But I never have a plan how I want to ride this horse.  Every race that he runs.  Many people ask me how are you going to ride him, and I wish I knew.  Some maybe thought that I’m not going to tell the truth, but it is the truth.  I go like a blind guy how I’m going to ride him.  I make my decisions during the race.

THE MODERATOR:  Art Sherman has joined us now, the trainer for California Chrome.  We have a question for both Victor and Art.


Q.  What did you learn from your first run at the Triple Crown in regards to the hype and all the things off the track that go with it?  What did you learn from that?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I learned a lot.  I think the first time I’d been there I was kind of like, you know some things I was not ready for.  Some things that I did that I shouldn’t have done, or some things that I had done that I’m just glad that I did.  But now I have a second chance, so I probably will enjoy myself a little bit better, and go day by day.  Because as long as California Chrome comes out good and is ready for the next step, I’ll be ready too.


Q.  Are you somewhat amazed this horse is able to respond to every challenge, and do you think he can do it again?

ART SHERMAN:  After watching him today, and coming back in two weeks which I never usually run a horse that quick back, and now I’ve got three weeks, a mile and a half, it’s quite a challenge.  I’ll tell you.  You have to have a very good horse to win these three races, and I’m hoping I’ve got one right now.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It’s not easy.  If it was easy a lot of horses would have won the Triple Crown, you know?  30‑something years, it’s just crazy.  It has to be a super horse to win that.  It’s so close to the races.  They lose so much energy.  Hopefully California Chrome comes back good, and he is the one who hopefully can do it.


Q.  Because the race is now a mile and a half, does it change how you train the horse?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, it will be because we’ve got a new surface.  I’ve got three weeks now.  He’ll probably just work an easy half a mile up to this race, and I can just play it by ear and see how fast he recovers and when I will work him back.  But he will work before that Belmont.


Q.  (Indiscernible)?

ART SHERMAN:  (No Audio) in my career.  A Triple Crown winner, if you had said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, “Are you crazy?”  Now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated, really big time.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It would probably be something I’ve never dreamed in my life just to win the Triple Crown.  I don’t even know what to say right now.  I’m just having fun and enjoying the Preakness right now and waiting for the Kentucky Derby.  So I’ll think of that later when I get close to the race.


Q.  The question for Victor, is this a victory for the fans who have supported you so much?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Absolutely.  You know, they’ve got my support.  (No Audio) all the jockeys that have helped support me, every human being that’s helped me.


Q.  I wonder if you can walk us through your view of the race, and the level of confidence?

ART SHERMAN:  I didn’t see it really clear, to be honest with you.  I know I’ll get a chance to see it a lot better.  Everybody was standing up in front of me, and I had a camera point blank in my face, but I got a chance to see the board, you know what I mean?  I knew when I saw him break, I was very happy.  I knew going into the first turn Victor was in that position.  As a former rider, he had to make a decision.  So whether to go on or get in behind horses, he got a chance to move him out.  When I saw him at the half a mile pole having dead aim on the leaders, I said, now, Victor, we’re in the driver’s seat.


Q.  Art, can you describe your emotions when the race ended as compared to the Derby?  Was there the same elation or was there relief today because you won the second leg?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, every race to me, the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, you know, I’ve never won at million dollar races.  I was always kind of a claimant type of trainer.  Now I’m up there with all the big boys, and I’m saying, wow.  I said it’s just an honor being blessed to have a horse like him.


Q.  Victor, when you turned for home, did you have as much horse as you had in the past when you’ve made the move?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yes, I had.  Oh, no, I had to move early today.  I had to start moving in the half‑mile pole, which is tough for a horse to start moving early and keep going all the way to the end.  It’s not easy.  And today, California Chrome proved he can move.  Even if he’s a little early, he still has it.  I don’t know how much still has, but I’ll make sure I get him to the wire first today.


Q.  Same feeling?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Same feeling.


Q.  I believe this is the sixth straight win for California Chrome.  What has been the number one ingredient for that winning streak right now?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I think the way I ride him.

ART SHERMAN:  I’ll drink to that.

THE MODERATOR:  We can probably end that right there  (Laughing).  Great answer though.


Q.  When will you be at the barn tomorrow so the media can talk to you tomorrow morning, and when are you thinking about taking the horse out of here?

ART SHERMAN:  I think he’ll probably have a couple of days here to unwind and just be a horse.  You know what I mean?  Even though it’s not that far a van drive, he needs to just ‑‑ he’s going to be tired in the morning.  I’m going to be there early like I always am.


ART SHERMAN:  Give him a little kiss for myself.  I tell you, he’s my superstar, I can tell you that.


Q.  So no plans etched in stone as to the time you’re going to take him out?  6:00 a.m. you’ll be there tomorrow?

ART SHERMAN:  He’s not going to be out.  He’ll be probably walking before you guys get there.


Q.  How is it dealing with all the outside distractions pulling at you both before the race and now after the race?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, I’m kind of getting used to it.  After I won the Kentucky Derby, I said, wow, all of a sudden I feel like Willie Nelson the old rock star coming through the airport.  So I’m getting kind of used to it.  Sometimes I need to take my little siesta for about an hour.  I call it just charging my battery a little bit, and then I’m okay.


Q.  How hard did you ride him today?  You were pretty easy on him at the stretch at Churchill.  How much did you have to dig into him today?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I had to a little bit more than Churchill.  The only reason because the race today was a little bit complicated.  The horse on the outside they attacked me very soon, early move at the half a mile pole.  So it’s way, way too much for him.  But I had to continue to go not really hard but more than the Kentucky Derby.

THE MODERATOR:  Victor, thank you.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you all, and thank you for everything.

THE MODERATOR:  On behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club and all the fans, thank you for your class all week.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you to all the guys around here and everybody from Pimlico.  They’re awesome.  Thank you all.

THE MODERATOR:  Steve, congratulations on behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club.  Congratulations on a spectacular performance.

STEVE COBURN:  Thank you very much.


Q.  You’ve always had a great feeling about this horse.  You keep predicting wins and he keeps winning for you.  What’s next?

STEVE COBURN:  The Triple Crown.  You know what?  I don’t mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant because I’ve said this.  I’ve said it a hundred times if I’ve said it once.  When I saw this colt, when I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big.  I don’t know what it is, but we’re going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be.  I’ve been a firm believer in that ever since, and he’s not proven me wrong.  This is a nice horse.  He loves people.  He loves what he does, and that’s why he’s America’s horse, because in my opinion, this horse, what he’s doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table, this horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, you know what?

We can do it too.  We can do this also.  It may not be a race horse.  It may be the idea that they have in their head or a new product or whatever the case may be, but we just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win.  The little guy can do it, because this is the little guy here.  Have you ever seen him?  He’s only about that tall (laughing).

But honestly, folks, I don’t know how to explain how I feel within my heart and soul.  It’s hard for me because I get very emotional about it.  But I honestly believe this horse is America’s horse.  He’s giving everybody that little light bulb when it clicks on, say you know what?  We can do this.  We can do this with just a little bit more try.  We can do it.  I’ve always told my wife, I said when I die, on my headstone put my name and say a man that loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and he always had try, period.


Q.  Can you imagine the kind of reception you’re going to get when you get to New York?

ART SHERMAN:  All I know is my wife already bugged me she wanted to go see a play downtown, so I know I’m in trouble right away.

STEVE COBURN:  So your wife’s been talking to my wife, right?

ART SHERMAN:  That’s right.


Q.  Steve, how about you?

STEVE COBURN:  I’ve never been to Kentucky.  It was always on our bucket list to go there.  Not necessarily for the Kentucky Derby, but just to go to Churchill Downs.  We went to Kentucky as the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, and we did.  We came to Maryland with the favorite to win the Preakness, and we did.  I think I’m going incognito to New York.  I’m going to go buy me some dreadlocks, and some Billy Bob Ts, and I’m sliding in the back door (laughing).

But you know what?  Dave Picker from NBC Sports, he told me, when you get there, you call me and we’ll show you a good time.  So, Dave, you know you’re on the hook right now.


Q.  Can you get some dreadlocks for Art?

STEVE COBURN:  They’re on the way.


Q.  Can you take us through your emotions watching the race?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, honestly, when he broke good, and he held his line, I had so many cameras in my face, I didn’t even get to see the race.  Carolyn says he’s in the lead.  I said where is he.  She said he’s in the lead.  He’s going to win the race, and then I saw him, I said he’s winning the damn race (laughing).  I had so many cameras in my face that I actually couldn’t see the race.

But you know what?  Ladies and gentlemen of this wonderful, wonderful state, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for us.  We’re just everyday people.  We go to work every day.  What you’ve done for us, I cannot express how much I appreciate it.

I looked in the mirror this morning, and I thought I had me like a royal birthmark on my butt.  But I didn’t, because you people have been treating me like I’m royalty here.  So thank you, Maryland.  Thank you so much.


Q.  As crazy as it sounds, can you look back now and think that turning down the $6 million was a good decision?

ART SHERMAN:  Actually, he knew more than I did, and now the horse is worth $30 million.

STEVE COBURN:  That’s my boy.


Q.  So the answer is an emphatic yes?

ART SHERMAN:  A big yes.


Q.  In retrospect now, the $30 million you talked about winning the Triple Crown tonight ‑‑ the deal you turned down for $30 million, $6 million, whatever it was, was it the best business deal you didn’t make?

STEVE COBURN:  Not only yes, but hell yes.  No, honestly, we were here yesterday, and the man I said not only no, I said hell no.  And he shook my hand and I said I respect what you did.  So that tells me this man actually believed in us because we knew we had a good horse.  This horse wouldn’t be who he is today without the trainer, Art Sherman.  The exercise rider, Willie, and Raul, because Raul sleeps with this horse more than he sleeps with his wife.

So, Raul, thank you.  I love you.  You’re doing a great job.  Art, you have a lot of competition in front of you.  So when you see Raul, you tell him I said thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I’ll see him in the morning, actually.

But, yeah, it is what it is.  I can’t explain it.  But we’re not Dumbass Partners.  We’re Dumbass Partners family right now, and we’re sharing this with the world.  We just want everybody to know that thank you, thank you so much for just believing in us and in this horse because he is a very special horse.


Q.  You keep talking about going to work every day.  At what point do you quit your job and live off the income?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, I’m only 61, so I’ve got at least four more years to work, and I will show up every day because I cannot do this to my family, which is the people that I work with.  I could not walk away from them simply because I don’t want to put them in a bind.  I could do it, but I’m not going to do it because that’s not the type of person I am.  I am me.  I get up.  I go to work every day.  For somebody that has been fortunate enough as I have to have this happen to them, I can understand that they want to just get out the door and say, I’m done.  I can’t do this because I cannot put my company in that situation.  Because I work.  I work.  I love my job, and I work.         So I’ll be there until I’m able to retire.  Try to get me some social security.  Right now I can’t get it.  I’m only 61.  Now my wife retired, thank goodness.  I never knew I had so many underwear.  She had been washing my drawers for a long time.  I’ve got a lot of clean drawers.  Okay, all right, honey, we’re done.


Q.  In all seriousness, can this horse win the Triple Crown?

ART SHERMAN:  I tell you, I wouldn’t want to be in anybody else’s shoes right now.  I think the horse is a phenomenal horse.  I know right now we’re running on a high.  But I think when we get to Belmont this horse is going to run big.  I really do.


Q.  Why is Mr. Martin not here?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, all I can say is my partner, Perry Martin, is a very private person.  And Perry, I hope you’re listening to this because, you know what?  We love you, and we really wanted you to be here.  But I can understand why he’s not here.  The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn’t very good, and Perry Martin, he decided that he and his family were going to watch the race some place within the world ‑‑ I can’t tell you where it’s at because I don’t even know where in the hell it’s at ‑‑ and then go have a good supper.

So, Perry, I hope I did you proud, because you saw me crying on camera.


Q.  There is a question in regards to the Churchill Downs comment you made to NBC?  You said Churchill Downs could take a lesson from the Maryland Jockey Club.


STEVE COBURN:  Yes, and I’m serious about this.  I’m serious as a heart attack.  Because you know what?  We got to Churchill and not only did I complain, but there were other trainers and owners and even the jockeys were complaining about the way they were treated.  I’ve said this once, I’ve said it 50 times, Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality.  Because these people right here, they’ve treated us like we’re royalty, and I can’t say thank you enough.

We’ve got a gentleman out here, his name’s John.  That’s our driver.  John, say hi to the folks.  There is John.  He’s saying hi to the folks.  But you know what?  We’re not royalty.  We don’t expect to be treated like royalty, but the hospitality that these folks in Maryland have shown us is top shelf.  I’m talking above top shelf liquor.  I’m talking top shelf.

So, thank you, Maryland.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and hopefully we’ll be back next year for the Black‑Eyed Susan, because California Chrome has a foal sis.


Q.  Do you think Perry will be able to make the Belmont?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, you know what?  I know a lot of people that can throw a good loop, and we’ll drag his butt to Belmont if he doesn’t want to show up on his own, so I’m hoping he will.  I really am.  Because he needs to be ‑‑ he’s missing out on a lot of fun.  He really, really is.  I know how him and Denise are, and I’ll talk to him.  I can’t guarantee nothing, but I’ll talk to him.


Q.  Do you think he missed out here for not being here?

STEVE COBURN:  You know what?  I can’t answer that for him.  All I can say is Perry, you’re missing a hell of a party, buddy.  You really are.


Q.  Did you talk to Perry right after the race?  If so, what did he say?

STEVE COBURN:  I have not talked to Perry yet.  My phone’s turned off, but I’m sure that when I turn it back on, there are going to be a lot of buzzes coming on that thing.  Perry and I, we talk a lot.  It’s back and forth.  It’s like, hey, partner, how you doing?  Fine.  How you doing?  It’s very casual.  We have a great relationship with Perry and Denise.  When we get together, my wife Carolyn and I, and Perry and Denise, it’s us.  I don’t know what else to tell you.  But Perry, we need to go to New York, New York, New York.


Q.  Is it fair to say that Perry isn’t here because of the way he was treated at Churchill?

STEVE COBURN:  You know what?  I can’t answer that for him, but I think it had a lot to do with it.  Because he had his mother who is 84 years old, trying to get everything done for her so she could be in the winner’s circle and so on and so forth.  There were people doing what they could to help us, but apparently they didn’t do quite enough.  But I can’t answer that for Perry.  I honestly believe that it was a bad, bad day at Churchill.  Even though we won, it was a bad day for my partner and his family.


Q.  How much does this sport need a Triple Crown winner?

STEVE COBURN:  This sport of horse racing ‑‑ okay, let me back up here a little bit.  We went on the number system as far as not money, based on points, right?  And in my opinion, in my opinion there are trainers out there that train horses just to upset the apple cart.  I honestly believe that there are a lot of good horses running out there, and 19 of them started in the Kentucky Derby.  I honestly believe that they need to change this sport to where those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby are the only 20 eligible to run in all three races.  If you bow out in the Preakness, you don’t come back for the Belmont.

I honestly believe that if the Triple Crown is not won this year by California Chrome, I will never see it in my lifetime because there are people out there trying to upset the apple cart.  They don’t want a Triple Crown winner.  They want a paycheck.  So that’s my honest opinion.  If they don’t like it, I don’t care.  But that’s my opinion.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, folks.

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California Chrome trainer Sherman says throat issue “not a big deal” on Preakness eve

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff


CALIFORNIA CHROME – The connections of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome said again Friday morning that their colt is healthy and ready to compete in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

California Chrome coughed after training Thursday morning and he was examined by trainer Art Sherman’s veterinarian, who discovered that the colt had a small blister in his throat. The homebred colt owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin had a similar blister prior to his victory in the Derby.

Alexis Garske, a spokeswoman for Sherman Racing, said that when the blister – described as a common, minor irritation – was found in Kentucky after the Derby, blood tests were done and the colt’s airway was scoped. Those examinations showed that the colt was fine and able to continue training. Garske said Friday that California Chrome was not scoped and did not have his blood tested in Maryland this week.

California Chrome is being treated with a glycerin throat wash.

“California Chrome is fine. His throat is fine. He had a little tickle,” said Sherman’s son and assistant trainer, Alan Sherman. “He is not scratching from the Preakness. He is fine. I don’t know why it was blown out of proportion.”

Art Sherman said the blister is a routine matter and not a cause for concern.

“Sometimes they get a little scratchy,” Art Sherman said. “It’s not a big deal, as long as their blood comes back good and they eat up everything. It’s just something that horses do have. If you scope a lot of horses after a race you’re going to see all kind of little stuff going on. None of them are really perfect. Going a mile and a quarter, if you scope them afterward, you’ll see dirt down their throats. It’s just imperative when you race horses.”

California Chrome went to the track shortly after 6 a.m. Friday and galloped two miles in the rain under exercise rider Willie Delgado. The exercise was moved ahead by approximately 30 minutes because a heavy round of showers was expected to arrive later in the hour.

“I thought he looked good,” Art Sherman said.

The Shermans have enjoyed their time at Pimlico while meeting the connections of other Preakness runners.

“It’s been fun and we’re trying to be relaxed into this race,” Art Sherman said. “When you run a 3-5 shot, you’ve got a lot more pressure on you knowing you’re going to be the favorite, but I think we can handle it.”

Sherman said that it is up to jockey Victor Espinoza to decide what strategy to use in the Preakness.

“You’ve got to see how the race is going to play out,” Sherman said. “I wish I had a future book to look at and see how this is going to be, but I’ve been around for a long time and I just go one race at a time. I can’t give instructions to Victor; he’s been around there. Anyone that gives instructions to these kind of jocks are kidding themselves. That’s why they are earning the big bucks and they are very talented riders.”


BAYERN – Assistant trainer Jim Barnes sent Kaleem Shah’s Bayern out to the track for a 1 1/2 mile gallop in the rain Fridaymorning at Pimlico.


Barnes said the Offlee Wild colt was fine and ready for the Preakness.


Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert ran Bayern in the Derby Trial on April 26 at Churchill Downs rather than wait five days to see if he would have enough points to get into the field for the Kentucky Derby. Bayern finished first in the Trial but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch. He worked twice at Churchill Downs before shipping to Pimlicoon Wednesday.


Rosie Napravnik, who rode Bayern in the Derby Trial, will be aboard in the Preakness.


DYNAMIC IMPACT – John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact galloped 1 ½ miles in a driving rain at Pimlico Friday morning, going to the track at 7:30 with exercise rider Wayne Brown up.


“We are not used to training in this kind of weather at Woodbine; we try to avoid it,” said trainer Mark Casse, who arrived from Ocala, Fla. Thursday night. “But it looked like he went well over it.”


Dynamic Impact, riding a two-race win streak that includes a victory in the Illinois Derby (G3), will break from post No. 1 and be ridden by Miguel Mena.


Casse, who is set to saddle his first Preakness starter, was asked what he would like to see unfold for Dynamic Impact on Saturday afternoon.


“I think there is a lot of speed in there,” said Casse, who reported that Dynamic Impact would not go to the track Saturdaymorning. “Of course, a lot of times you think that way and it does not materialize, but I think that will happen. I hope he is able to sit right behind the speed.


“Things have to go our way and he has to save ground and then move out at some point. We will be closely watching the earlier races, and there could be some last-minute changes in our strategy.”


GENERAL A ROD – Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing’s General a Rod was out on the Pimlico track shortly after 6 a.m. Friday for a 1 1/8-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.


Trainer Mike Maker said Friday’s rainy weather didn’t seem to have any effect on General a Rod, who had trained on wet tracks before, although all six of his starts have come on fast tracks.


“Everything’s good, we’re all set,” Maker said. “He’s got a great attitude. He never gets nervous about anything.”


General a Rod will be making his fifth start of the year, his lone victory coming in the ungraded Gulfstream Park Derby. He was second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and third in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream before finishing a troubled 11th in the Kentucky Derby.


“His resume speaks for itself,” said Maker, who is saddling his first Preakness runner. “He’s run well with good horses in Florida. He’s a big, imposing horse. He just needs to run his race.”


Maker has plenty of respect for the Derby winner, but firmly believes his colt is in the upper echelon of his generation at this point. As for the Preakness, he’s optimistic.


“It’s just like every other race,” he said. “You need a good trip, a good set-up and to have everything go your way. Obviously, (California Chrome) is head and shoulders above everybody so far. He’s proved it, and every race, he’s continued to do so.”


Javier Castellano, who last was aboard General a Rod in his photo-finish defeat in the Fountain of Youth, returns to ride him in the Preakness.


KID CRUZ – Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz, rated at 20-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s Preakness, went out to the track early Friday morning for a 1 1/8-mile gallop over a sloppy Pimlico strip with exercise rider Reul Munoz in the irons.


Trainer Linda Rice, bidding to become the first female trainer to win the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, realizes that making his graded-stakes debut in the Preakness will be an uphill battle for the son of Lemon Drop Kid.


“I’ve been racing horses for quite a few years, but I typically don’t like to go places that I don’t have a chance,” the New York-based trainer said. “I’ve never been here for this. I know he won’t be short odds, but I still think he deserves a shot.”


Kid Cruz won the Federico Tesio Stakes over the Pimlico track on April 19 after scoring in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel.


“I’m not so sure Pimlico is the same when they ran the Tesio as it will be on Preakness Day,” Rice said. “There’s the big crowd, a lot of noise. It’s much different, but he certainly ran well over the track. In some ways I think this is more of a speed-favoring track, but because they usually go hard and fast early, I’m hoping that’s the case.”


Kid Cruz, a $50,000 claim by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds after a November maiden win at Aqueduct, is a late runner whose speed figures may not stack up with some of the other Preakness contenders, particularly California Chrome, as Rice readily acknowledges.


“He looks slow (numbers-wise),” Rice said. “I think the Belmont (Stakes) is really his best option to beat these kinds of horses. I’m aware of that. We just need him to move forward here. We’re still going to try hard on Saturday.”


Julian Pimentel, who has been aboard for Kid Cruz’s two recent victories, has the return mount for the Preakness.


PABLO DEL MONTE – Blake Heap, the longtime assistant to trainer Wesley Ward, decided not to send Pablo Del Monteout to the track in the heavy rain Friday morning.


“We just tack-walked him around the shedrow in here and jogged a little bit in here,” Heap said. “He’s ready and I didn’t think that one day of jogging on the track was going to make a big difference. He’s ready and everything is perfect.”


Heap said the speedy Giant’s Causeway colt does not have to lead from gate to wire to be successful in the Preakness.


“He’s probably got to get a good break,” Heap said. “He’s got speed and he’s on the outside, but he can’t get into a real speed duel. If he could be in front that would be nice, but if he could just relax and be second or third on the outside, he might do that. Things just have to go that way and other people have got to have bad trips. Things have to go your way to win.”


RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez at 6:30 Friday morning in a driving rain at Pimlico.


Trainer Tom Amoss watched the morning activity on a video while overseeing his main string at Churchill Downs.


“I liked the way she went. She looked good, but then she looked good before the Kentucky Oaks (G1), too,” Amoss said of the sixth-place Oaks finisher who joined his barn three days after the May 2 race.


Ria Antonia will be ridden Saturday by Calvin Borel, who was aboard her for the first time on Sunday for a half-mile work in :47 3/5 at Churchill Downs. She will break from post No. 6.


Amoss, who will arrive in Baltimore Friday afternoon, was asked how he would like to see the race unfold for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner.


“I would like to see a lively pace, a contested pace, involving the contenders,” said Amoss, who saddled Mylute to a third-place finish behind Oxbow in last year’s Preakness.  “She needs to be in a good striking position and we need to see her run her peak race.”


In addition to Mylute, Amoss has had one other Preakness starter, Hot Wells, who finished fourth behind Real Quiet in 1998.


RIDE ON CURLIN – Trainer “Bronco Billy” Gowan sent Ride On Curlin to the track for a mile gallop under exercise rider Bryan Beccia on Pimlico’s sloppy main track Friday morning.


“If he ran over this stuff tomorrow, he’d love it,” Gowan said of his first Preakness starter. “I think he’d run over anything – wet, grass, anything… I really do.”


Gowan insists that his horse has yet to show his real ability following a troubled trip in which he still managed to finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel.


“We just have to get a good trip,” Gowan said. “I think he’s a good horse. I think that’s all we need. And if (California) Chrome stubs his toe a little bit… well that would help. He’s (California Chrome) an awful good horse. I’d like to hook him at the top of the stretch and see what we’ve got, you know? I’d like to see them fast up front and me laying off them a little bit.”


Gowan’s son of Curlin, a $25,000 Keeneland purchase in 2012 by Daniel Dougherty, hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since taking an allowance race at Oaklawn five starts back. His second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) has been his most impressive outing and he’s one of only three horses returning from the Kentucky Derby for the Middle Jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.


“There’s only one chance to run in the Preakness,” Gowan said. “The Derby didn’t take much out of him. He’s given me all the signs he wants to run. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, coming back in two weeks. It seems like he’s getting stronger all the time. He hasn’t lost any weight and he’s getting stronger and tougher all the time. I was pretty confident in the last race. I feel the same here.”


Ride On Curlin is Dougherty’s only runner in training. He has a pair of 2-year-olds in training in Kentucky with Gowan.


“He was a little crooked-legged,” Gowan said when asked how he managed to find a son of Curlin out of a Storm Cat mare (Magical Ride) for such a bargain price. “He was a little off-set in his knees, but he had a serious pedigree. I bought him in September and we had him at my house for six weeks, then we sent him down to Florida and started (training) him. Hey, sometimes you see million-dollar horses that can’t get out of their own way.”


RING WEEKEND – St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’  Ring Weekend galloped a mile after visiting the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course Friday morning. It was the first activity on the Pimlico track for the Graham Motion-trained colt, who did the bulk of his training for the Preakness at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. before shipping on Thursday.


“Everything went well,” assistant trainer and exercise rider Alice Clapham said.


Alan Garcia has the mount on the gelded son of Tapit, who captured the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) before finishing second in the Calder Derby.


“I’m going to leave everything up to Alan, because I think I interfered with him for the Calder Derby,” said Motion, offering that he may have ‘over-instructed’ Garcia. “I’m going to leave it up to him and let him see how the race sets up and let the horse run his race.”


SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Domingo Navarro at Pimlico Friday morning.


“He liked the rain. He trains in rain all the time in Florida,” said Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing. “He looks great.”


Social Inclusion has shown brilliant speed in his three lifetime starts. The son of Pioneerof the Nile launched his career during the winter at Gulfstream Park with a pair of easy front-running triumphs, including a track-record performance at 1 1/16 miles in an open allowance. After breaking a step slowly from his outside post in the Wood Memorial, the Manny Azpurua-trained colt raced wide around the first turn before setting a strong pace into deep stretch and faltering to third late.


Although Social Inclusion is generally regarded as a speed horse, Sanchez expects the Kentucky-bred colt to be a late factor, as well, in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.


“I want him to have the lead at the three-quarters – breaking well, going to the turn first or second and at the three-quarters, there he goes,” Sanchez said. “He’s going to finish. In the Wood, the track didn’t help him. This time the track is going to help us.”


Luis Contreras, who has been aboard Social Inclusion in all three of his starts, has the return mount.

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Throat irritation no issue for California Chrome heading into Preakness

Posted on 15 May 2014 by WNST Staff



CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome is being treated for the recurrence of a minor throat irritation that his connections say will not affect his preparation for the 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.

Alan Sherman, assistant to his father, trainer Art Sherman, said that the colt has a small throat blister that is being treated with a glycerin throat wash. The blister was discovered during a thorough examination after California Chrome coughedThursday morning.

“He’s fine,” Alan Sherman said. “He had it going into the Derby and it went away. After he ran in there, it came back a little bit, but it’s not a big deal at all.”

After the colt coughed, blood work was done and he was scoped. Nothing but the blister was found. Alan Sherman said a throat blister is fairly common.

“I don’t know how they get them, but a lot of horses get them,” Sherman said, comparing it to an itchy throat for a human.

When questions arose about the status of the colt’s health,

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Napravnik set to return to Pimlico for first time since Small’s passing

Posted on 10 May 2014 by WNST Staff

Napravnik Ready for Emotional Homecoming in 139th Preakness Stakes

Ring Weekend Breezes at Fair Hill; Pablo Del Monte Works at Keeneland; Derby Winner California Chrome Gallops at Churchill


BALTIMORE – 5-10-14 – When Rosie Napravnik ventures to Pimlico Race Course to ride Bayern in next Saturday’s 139thrunning of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the 26-year-old riding star can expect an emotional homecoming.

A familiar face will not be there to greet her. Trainer Dickie Small, who gave her a leg up on her very first winner, passed away on April 4.

“There’ll be a void at Pimlico,” said Napravnik, who guided the Small-trained Ringofdiamonds to victory at Pimlico in her first career ride on June 9, 2005. “When I ride in big races and do well, he’s one of the first people I think of.  I know how proud of me he would be.”

Small’s presence will be missed next weekend, but Napravnik can expect a lot of support from family and friends at Pimlico as she attempts to realize a schoolgirl’s dream of someday winning the Preakness Stakes, as well as the Kentucky Derby.

“It would be just as special. It’s a Triple Crown race. It’s my home track with all my friends and family around. We’d have half the grandstand cheering for us – that’s what would make it special,” said Napravnik, who began galloping horses for Small and trainer Holly Robinson at Pimlico while attending Hereford High School in Baltimore County.

“I would feel like – if I was able to ride the winner of the Preakness – that I was doing it for everybody who got me started in Maryland and who gave me the opportunities that led to Fair Grounds, Kentucky and Saratoga and having a horse in the Preakness.”

Napravnik, who finished third aboard Mylute in last year’s Preakness Stakes, expressed a lot of confidence in the abilities of Bayern, despite his disqualification from first to second in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 26.

“Coming out of the 1 hole, we had to play a forced hand and go to the lead and it was deeper on the inside of the track. He still ran a good race. He was a game horse,” Napravnik said. “The DQ, I don’t have much to say about that. He won the race and had to be very gritty to do it.”

Napravnik’s confidence in Bayern soared during a subsequent five-furlong workout in 58 1/5 seconds at Churchill on May 5.

“His work was absolutely incredible. He really impresses me in the morning. I was super-excited about him for the Derby Trial and if we’re able to have a little more options in positioning, I think he’ll be better around two turns than the one-turn mile,” she said of Bayern, who galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Saturday morning and is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.

Napravnik has become a key player on the national racing stage in recent years, having dominated the Fair Grounds jockey standings three straight years and riding many Grade 1 winners, including Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill on May 2. Yet, the excitement of riding in major stakes such as the Preakness Stakes hasn’t waned.

“I don’t think the big races will ever be old hat. Certainly, I don’t think the Triple Crown becomes old hat for anybody,” she said. “With the experience of riding in these races more and more often, I’m not overwhelmed by it and can be more prepared each time and know more what to expect.”

When she arrives at Pimlico next weekend for yet another big race, she’ll pause to reflect back on the day Dickie Small gave her a leg up on her first mount.

“I didn’t know if I’d be terrible or successful or somewhere in between,” she said, “but it’s really been the ride of my life.”


In Other Preakness News:

St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend breezed six furlong in 1:13 1/5 at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Saturday morning in preparation for a possible start in the Preakness Stakes.

“He galloped out a mile in 1:41. That’s what I was most pleased about: how he galloped out,” said trainer Graham Motion, whose Preakness prospect was ridden by longtime assistant and exercise rider Alice Clapham.

Ring Weekend, who captured the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and finished second in the Calder Derby, missed the Kentucky Derby due to a fever. The gelded son of Tapit missed a few days of training but has been training well since the setback.

“So far, so good,” said Motion, who will continue to monitor Ring Weekend’s training before committing to the Preakness.

Trainer Wesley Ward was especially upbeat Saturday as he talked about Pablo Del Monte’s six-furlong breeze in 1:12 1/5 at Keeneland, the colt’s final workout for the 139th Preakness Stakes.

“He’s looking great. Couldn’t be doing any better,” Ward said.

In a change of plans, Pablo Del Monte, who finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1), will be shipped from Lexington, Ky. to Baltimore on Monday rather than on Wednesday. He will be one of five Preakness candidates arriving at Pimlico that day.

Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who will ride Pablo Del Monte in the Preakness, was aboard for the breeze, which was done in company with High Wire Kitten. Pablo Del Monte’s split times were :12 1/5, :24 4/5, :36 3/5 and :48 4/5, and he galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.

High Wire Kitten, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is headed to Baltimore to run in the Hilltop Stakes on Friday.

“She has been working very, very well. It’s a good workmate for him,” Ward said.

High Wire Kitten and Pablo Del Monte have breezed together for about a month.

“Two weeks out from the Blue Grass we put her six or seven lengths in front and it was tough on him to catch her, and he did,” Ward said. “John Velazquez worked him that day. I think he ran so hard in the Blue Grass that it had an effect on him, but now he’s really getting to her. And she’s working very, very good; she working three-quarters of a mile in :12 herself. And they are finishing heads up.

“It’s everything you’d want to see in the last two works. He’s coming into this race as good as he could possibly be and doing everything right. I really think that Mr. Ramsey’s filly is going to run a big race in the Hilltop Stakes.”

Ward said he feels good about how Pablo Del Monte is doing a week out from the Preakness Stakes. He made the decision to move up the shipping date by a couple of days because the Monday flight is leaving from Lexington’s airport, which is very close to Keeneland.

“Everything is flawless right now,” he said. “Everything is actually perfect.”

Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion visited the racetrack extra early Saturday morning for his morning exercise. Training hours were limited to one hour between 5 and 6 a.m. in order to accommodate “Canter for a Cure,” a fundraising event for breast cancer research that ran between 6 and 11 a.m.

“He went out at 5. We were happy to do it, ‘Canter for a Cure’ is such a good cause,” said Rontos Racing’s Ron Sanchez. “He was full of energy. He really likes the track. He galloped a mile and a half and came back with good energy. He was full of himself. He’s settled in at Pimlico really nice.”

Sanchez reported that Social Inclusion, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G3) after winning his first two races impressively at Gulfstream Park, is scheduled to gallop again on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and breeze on Monday.

Jockey Luis Contreras, who has retained the mount aboard the Manny Azpurua-trained colt, is scheduled to be at Pimlico for Social Inclusion’s breeze Monday.

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome made an earlier-than-usual appearance on the track at Churchill DownsSaturday for his morning exercise: a gallop of 1¾ miles under exercise rider Willie Delgado.

“I wanted to go out before the track got chewed up,” assistant trainer Alan Sherman said of California Chrome, who hit the track at 6:30, about 20 minutes earlier than his norm. “He has been on a ‘wet-fast’ track before, but I don’t know if he has been on a sealed track.”

The track had been sealed Friday evening after the 10-race program.

David Lehr, Senior Director of Track Surfaces, said Churchill Downs received two inches of rain after Friday’s final race that went off around 7:30 p.m.

California Chrome backtracked to the eighth-pole in a light rain, but by the time he had finished, the rain had increased in intensity.

“We probably haven’t had this much rain (in California) all year,” said Sherman, son of trainer Art Sherman. “I know we sure could use it.”

California Chrome is scheduled to leave for Baltimore on Monday.

“We are supposed to load at the barn at 10 o’clock Monday morning and the plane leaves Lexington at 12:30,” Sherman said. “He will train that morning and then go.”

Maryland-based jockey Julian Pimentel will ride Kid Cruz in the Preakness Stakes for trainer Linda Rice. It will be Pimentel’s second start in Maryland’s signature race; he was up on Norman Asbjornson, who was 11th in 2011.

“It’s very exciting to be in those kind of races,” Pimentel said, “I’m really looking forward to it. It was a great experience back then. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the same.”

Pimentel, 33, rode Kid Cruz to off-the-pace victories in the Private Terms on March 8 at Laurel and the Federico Tesio on April 19 at Pimlico.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Pimentel said. “I’ve ridden him twice and he’s won both times. He did it going away pretty good. We’ve got a race on the racetrack, which should help. It’s a tough race, but he’s tough.”

Kid Cruz is scheduled to train at Belmont Park on Monday morning and ship to Pimlico later in the day.

John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact was scheduled for a workout Saturday morning in preparation for next Saturday’s Preakness, but weather forced assistant trainer Norman Casse to call an audible and scrub the work.

Before the track opened at 6 o’clock, Casse stood in a light rain as tractors floated the track.

“I am afraid this will be the last day we will be able to work,” said Casse, son of trainer Mark Casse. “There is more rain coming and who’s to say it won’t be worse later today or tomorrow?”

In the end, Casse decided to wait a day and instead have Dynamic Impact gallop 1½ miles under exercise rider Marco Cano at6:30.

“A lot of my horses didn’t go out and I am happy he at least got to gallop,” Casse said. “We are prepared to go tomorrow and if not, it is not a big deal and we can go Monday.”

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia, sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in her most recent start, visited the starting gate and then galloped 1½ miles under Maurice Sanchez.

“She had blinkers on in the Oaks and we are going to change equipment for her next race; whatever that will be,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “She stood in the gate with blinkers off, which is required for an equipment change.  We are still up in the air about the Preakness. She will work Sunday or Monday, depending on the weather.”

Daniel Dougherty’s seventh-place Kentucky Derby (G1) finisher Ride On Curlin galloped two miles on a sealed sloppy track under Bryan Beccia after the morning renovation break.

With trainer Billy Gowan looking on from the six-furlong gap, Ride On Curlin picked up the pace his second time around the track.

“I loved the way he trained this morning; he was very strong,” Gowan said.

Beccia, who has been the colt’s regular exercise rider since the first of January, was similarly enthused.

“That second mile was the most aggressive he has been with me all year,” Beccia said. “(The Derby) didn’t take anything out of him. I think he is better now than he was going in.”

Ride On Curlin will return to easy mile gallops the next two mornings before leaving for Pimlico Monday.

General a Rod will run in the colors of Skychai Racing in the Preakness. Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing purchased the colt from its original owner J. Armando Rodriquez a few days before the Kentucky Derby.

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General a Rod confirmed to run in Preakness

Posted on 10 May 2014 by WNST Staff


Social Inclusion Jogs, Gallops at Pimlico; California Chrome ‘Strong’; Monday Flight Confirmed Bringing Derby Winner, Ride On Curlin & General a Rod To Pimlico

BALTIMORE, 05-09-14 – The list of prospects for the 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course on May 17 grew to 10 Friday when Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing confirmed that General a Rod would compete in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

General a Rod, trained by Mike Maker, finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday but showed so much energy this week that Maker recommended that he go on to the Preakness.

“The bottom line is that Mike thinks the horse is in good order after the Derby and he thinks the race will suit him,” Wolf said.

“He was full of himself, carrying good flesh and he didn’t get a chance to show his true colors in the Derby,” Maker said, “so it’s the Preakness and we figured we’d give it a shot.”

Javier Castellano, the leading jockey in America, has the mount in the Preakness. Castellano, who rode Bernardini to victory in 2006, will be making his third appearance in Maryland’s historic race.

General a Rod is scheduled to be flown from Kentucky to Baltimore on Monday with two other horses that ran in the Derby, the winner, California Chrome, and Ride On Curlin, who finished seventh in the 19-horse field. The Tex Sutton charter flight is due to arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 1:45 p.m.

Starlight and Skychai Racing partnered to purchase the Roman Ruler colt from his original owner, J. Armando Rodriguez, on April 28. General a Rod had a strong campaign in Florida during the winter, winning the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1, finishing second by a head in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and third by 1 1/2 lengths in the Florida Derby (G1).

In the Kentucky Derby, he had a troubled trip and had to be steadied twice by jockey Joel Rosario. It was the first time in his six career starts that he did not finish in the top three. General a Rod, who had been effective running near the pace prior to the Derby, never was able to get into a contending position at Churchill Downs. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of his Starlight Racing stablemate Intense Holiday, who was forwardly placed before fading in the stretch.

Wolf said that he had expected a more competitive performance from General a Rod in the Derby.

“He came running at the end a little bit. I like seeing that,” he said. “In hindsight, if we had known that the pace would have been like it was, it would have been better if General a Rod had been where Intense Holiday was. If they had switched places we may hit the board with both of them. I thought he would have done better. We’ll tee it up again and see what happens.”

Maker, who is making his Preakness debut, said the colt would gallop up to the race.

Until his rivals start arriving on Monday, Social Inclusion will remain the lone Preakness candidate on the grounds.

Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s 3-year-old colt, who arrived at Pimlico Thursday morning following a nearly 19-hour van ride from Gulfstream Park, got acquainted with the racing surface Friday morning. The son of Pioneerof the Nile jogged the length of the front stretch to the seven-eighths pole before galloping a mile under exercise rider Domingo Navarro.

“He looked like he loved the track,” trainer Manny Azpurua said. “The way he handled the track was nice.”

Social Inclusion is scheduled to gallop 1 ½ miles on Saturday.

“We’re not sure whether he’ll work on Monday, but what I have in mind is a half-mile,” Azpurua said. “He’ll gallop tomorrowand Sunday and then we’ll decide.”

The Preakness will mark Social Inclusion’s fourth lifetime start and first since finishing third in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 5.

“He’s a strong colt, but he’s a May foal. I expect a lot of good things from him,” his 85-year-old trainer said. “I believe he hasn’t shown us all of his potential. Maybe I’m wrong, but something tells me he’s a special horse.”

Social Inclusion looked like a horse with star potential when he launched his career at Gulfstream in the winter, breaking his maiden by 7 ½ lengths in his six-furlong debut before breaking the track record for 1 1/16 miles with a 10-length victory over Honor Code in an open allowance.


In other Preakness news:

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome galloped 1 ½ miles over a fast track at Churchill Downs on a warm Friday morning with exercise rider Willie Delgado aboard.

“He was strong this morning,” said Alan Sherman, assistant to his father, trainer Art Sherman. “The track was a little cuppy this morning.”

Rain began falling after training hours Friday and sporadic showers were expected to continue through the day and night and into training hours Saturday. Prior to the Derby, California Chrome trained on a sealed track the first two days after his arrival.

“We’ll play it by ear tomorrow,” Alan Sherman said. “If the track is in good shape, I don’t mind training on it.”

California Chrome stood quietly for seven minutes at the five-furlong gap before his morning activity and calmly walked back to the barn with Delgado all smiles.

“He is much stronger now than he was after the Santa Anita Derby (G1),” Delgado said. “I used to give Alan a thumbs-up when I came off the track, but now I just smile. He can tell how he (California Chrome) is doing by how much I sweat.”

Upon his arrival at Pimlico California Chrome will be bedded down in Stall 40 in the Preakness Stakes Barn, which is traditionally reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner.

Kaleem Shah’s Bayern visited the starting gate and then galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez on Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Never off the board in four starts for trainer Bob Baffert, Bayern is scheduled to work Monday and ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.

John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact galloped 1 ½ miles before the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Marco Cano aboard.

Now riding a two-race win streak, Dynamic Impact is scheduled to work Saturday morning with jockey Miguel Mena up.

“He will be in the 6 o’clock set,” said Norman Casse, assistant to father, trainer Mark Casse. “I don’t like to work on a wet track, so we will see how it is. We may wait (until Sunday to work).”

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia, sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in her most recent start, galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs with Maurice Sanchez aboard for trainer Tom Amoss.

Ria Antonia arrived in the Amoss barn on Monday and Friday marked the fourth time Sanchez had been aboard.

“She has a beautiful way of going,” said Sanchez, who was the exercise rider for Mylute, the third-place finisher in last year’s Preakness. “All I have to do is keep her safe.”

Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin galloped 1 1/8 miles under exercise rider Bryan Beccia for trainer Billy Gowan after the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs.

Ride On Curlin, seventh in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday, returned to the track Wednesday and has followed a similar exercise for three consecutive mornings.

“He just ran a mile and a quarter and he is coming back in two weeks,” Gowan said. “He doesn’t need to do much.”

Gowan has Ride On Curlin scheduled for a two-mile exercise Saturday and the prospect of an “off” track is not a deterrent.

“He is going to go slow anyhow, so the track doesn’t matter,” Gowan said.

A son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, Ride On Curlin was purchased for $25,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. His dam, Magical Ride, is a daughter of Storm Cat who was graded-stakes placed and her dam is Victory Ride, a Grade 1 winner.

“I liked his looks and that pedigree … when I saw that, I had to go in,” Gowan said. “How did I get him for $25,000? I don’t know. Ask the other buyers.”

New shooters Pablo Del Monte and Kid Cruz galloped on their home tracks Friday morning as they moved toward the final works for the Preakness.

Pablo Del Monte trained at Keeneland for trainer and co-owner Wesley Ward. The Giant’s Causeway colt was third in the Blue Grass Stakes in his last race. Ward decided to scratch and wait for the Preakness rather than start Pablo Del Monte from post 20 in the Derby. Jockey Jeffery Sanchez will ride the colt in the Preakness.

Kid Cruz is scheduled to be shipped from New York to Baltimore Monday. The son of Lemon Drop Kid galloped over the muddy training track at Belmont Park on Friday morning. Julian Pimentel, who has ridden Kid Cruz to a pair of stakes wins in Maryland, will be back aboard in the Preakness.

St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend is scheduled to breeze at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton Maryland Saturday morning.

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Social Inclusion first Preakness horse to arrive at Pimlico

Posted on 08 May 2014 by WNST Staff


Azpurua to Seek Historic Win May 17; California Chrome Gallops at Churchill; Sanchez To Ride Pablo Del Monte

BALTIMORE, 05-08-14—The 77-year-old Art Sherman, who became the oldest trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner last Saturday with California Chrome, is just a kid to Manny Azpurua. The 85-year-old South Florida-based trainer was on hand at Pimlico Race Course Thursday morning for the arrival of his stable star, Social Inclusion, who is scheduled for a run in the 139th Preakness Stakes on May 17.

Azpurua, not Sherman, will have the opportunity to become the oldest trainer to send out the winner of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and eclipse the record of legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who was 82 years and 10 months old when he scored with Bold Ruler for a 1957 Preakness victory.

“We’ll see if we can make it,” the soft-spoken Azpurua said. “I expect him to run a good race.”

Social Inclusion, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct in his most recent start, arrived at Pimlico at 5:48 a.m. Thursday following an 18-hour, 44-minute van ride from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. He was accompanied by assistant trainer Roberto Riasco, who has worked for Azpurua for 39 years. Hey Leroy, who will run in the $400,000 Dixie Stakes (G2) on the Preakness undercard, also made the trip.

The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile walked the shedrow of the Preakness Stakes Barn with good energy before being bedded down in his stall. Owned by Rontos Racing Stable Corp., Social Inclusion was showing no ill effects from a foot bruise that kept him out of the Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream last Saturday.

“That’s not a problem,” Azpurua said. “He’s good.”

Social Inclusion is the first Preakness candidate during Azpurua’s long and successful career that includes more than 3,500 winners in his native Venezuela and nearly 950 winners in the U.S.

“It’s my first time. You know how you feel when you do anything the first time. It’s exciting,” he said. “He may be the best horse I’ve trained. I’ve had a lot of nice horses in my country and here.”

Social Inclusion debuted for Azpurua at Gulfstream on Feb. 22 while running six furlongs in 1:09 1/5 and scoring by 7 ½ lengths. The late-developing Kentucky-bred colt came back on March 12 to break the Gulfstream track record for 1 1/16 miles, defeating favored Honor Code by 10 lengths in 1:40 4/5.  Making the jump from entry-level allowance to Grade 1 company, Social Inclusion raced wide on the first turn before setting the pace and coming up short in deep stretch to finish third behind Wicked Strong and Samraat.

“In the Wood Memorial, I believe he learned a lot,” Azpurua said. “I’m so pleased the way he ran. I think he’s going to run a good race. He’s been doing everything I’ve asked him. He’s got his mind on running.”

Azpurua is planning to send Social Inclusion to the racetrack at 8:30 a.m. Friday to get acquainted with the Pimlico surface during a once-around jog and once-around gallop.

Luis Contreras, who has been aboard Social Inclusion in all three of his career starts, has the return mount for the Preakness.


In other Preakness News:

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’s Kentucky Derby (G1) hero California Chrome galloped 1½ miles with Willie Delgado aboard shortly before 7 o’clock Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

California Chrome stood in the gap leading to the track for about five minutes and did not move a muscle as photographers recorded the scene and horses went to and from the track. After the exercise, California Chrome walked quietly back to Barn 20.

“His temperament is excellent,” said Alan Sherman, assistant to his father Art Sherman, who is back at Los Alamitos and will reunite with the Derby winner in Baltimore next week. “He got a little fired up on the walkover (before the Derby) but he settled down once he got in the paddock.”

California Chrome’s final time in the 1 ¼ mile Derby of 2:03.66 was the slowest on a fast track since Cannonade (2:04) in 1974.

“I think he just tolerated the track,” Sherman said. “This track is deeper and sandier than at Los Alamitos and the dirt is different. It is a lot darker at home. But, they don’t pay any more to break track records.”

California Chrome is expected to ship to Maryland at the earliest on Monday if the charter flight is available. For Delgado, it is a trip back home; for Alan Sherman, it’s a first.

“Never been there,” Sherman said. “I think my dad rode at Bowie. I am 45, and that was long before I was around.”

Trainer Wesley Ward said jockey Jeffrey Sanchez will ride Pablo Del Monte. It will be Sanchez’s first Preakness mount.

Sanchez, 28, gets on a lot of horses for Ward and is very familiar with Pablo Del Monte, though the Preakness will mark his first time on the colt in a race.

“He’s worked him throughout his whole life,” Ward said. “He’s a rider who has won the Breeders’ Cup, the Juvenile Fillies, with Awesome Feather. He won all the races on Awesome Feather (who was 10-for-11 in her career) and he’s won for me in many different countries. In Europe, he’s won races in France for me at Longchamp and Chantilly. He rode Madman Diaries when he was the Sovereign Award winner as the champion 2-year-old colt in Canada. He’s won lots of stakes races for me, but he’s the kind of guy who flies under the radar a little bit.”

Sanchez was named on Pablo Del Monte for the Kentucky Derby, but Ward scratched and pointed to the Preakness rather than have his homebred start from post 20.

“He’s a strong rider but that hinders him a little bit because he’s muscular and he’s a little heavy,” Ward said. “But I’ve had a lot of luck with him; he works very hard and is a very nice young guy.”

Pablo Del Monte is training at Keeneland and is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico on Wednesday.

Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin walked to the track from Barn 47 at Churchill Downs to the six-furlong gap, where exercise rider Bryan Beccia hopped aboard and then followed with an easy gallop of 1 1/8 miles.

“He’ll do the same thing tomorrow, then Saturday gallop two miles and maybe pick it up late,”   trainer Billy Gowan said.

If the charter flight is arranged to take Derby winner California Chrome and Ride On Curlin to Baltimore on Monday, Gowan said he will have the colt gallop a mile Tuesday and work an easy half-mile at Pimlico on Wednesday.

At this point, Ride On Curlin and California Chrome appear to be the only Kentucky Derby runners lining up for the Preakness. Of the nine in the prospective field, they are the most experienced: California Chrome has 11 starts and Ride On Curlin has 10.

“The seasoning definitely helps and I think it is a big advantage,” Gowan said of his battle-tested colt. “Now if we can get a little more early pace this time; it may not hurt him (California Chrome), but it will help us.”

Dougherty, who will have two 2-year-olds joining the Gowan barn soon, is slated to arrive in Baltimore Tuesday for his initial visit to Pimlico. Beccia, however, has been to Pimlico before as the exercise rider for 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Monarchos ran the second-fastest Derby in history, but failed to reproduce that form in the Preakness, finishing sixth behind Point Given, a colt he had beaten by 11 ½ lengths in the Derby.

“Monarchos came out of the Derby just as good as Ride On Curlin,” Beccia said. “Monarchos shipped good and trained well. He was a happy horse and you can look at pictures of him galloping in the stretch with his ears pricked.

“Unfortunately, the real Point Given showed up (at the Preakness). Hopefully, after the Preakness and Belmont, the real Ride On Curlin will have shown up.”

Trainer Linda Rice has notified the Maryland Jockey Club’s racing office that she intends to ship Kid Cruz from Belmont Park to Pimlico on Monday. Kid Cruz is scheduled to have his final Preakness work this weekend at Belmont Park.

Kaleem Shah’s Bayern galloped 1½ miles Thursday morning at Churchill Downs after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up.

Five-time Preakness winning trainer Bob Baffert conditions Bayern and he is following a pattern he has used for his past five Preakness starters by having them train at Churchill Downs for a week and a half after the Kentucky Derby and ship to Baltimore the Wednesday before the race.

Baffert’s five Preakness victories are good for a tie for third all-time behind only Robert Walden (seven) and D. Wayne Lukas, who got his sixth last year with Oxbow. Baffert is tied with Thomas Healey.

Lookin at Lucky in 2010 is Baffert’s most recent Preakness winner.

John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact galloped 1½ miles under exercise rider Marco Cano early Thursdaymorning at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Mark Casse, who has not had a Preakness starter, Dynamic Impact is scheduled to work Saturday at Churchill Downs with jockey Miguel Mena slated to be in the saddle.

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia galloped 1½ miles under Maurice Sanchez early Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

After finishing sixth in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1), Ria Antonia was moved from Baffert’s barn to Tom Amoss, who trains a string of horses for Ron Paolucci of Loooch Racing.

“That’s the first time I have had one moved into my barn that close to a Grade 1 race,” said Amoss, who has Ria Antonia scheduled for a Monday work.

However, Ria Antonia was not a total unknown to Amoss.

“I did not see her last fall when she was in the Breeders’ Cup, but I got to watch her train for two weeks before the Oaks when she came out in the 8:30 time slot (reserved for Oaks and Derby horses),” Amoss said. “She was very impressive and that is what I want to see now.”

Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend is slated to have a breeze on Saturday that will be pivotal in trainer Graham Motion’s decision whether or not to enter him in the Preakness.

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California Chrome gets first work since winning Kentucky Derby

Posted on 07 May 2014 by WNST Staff


Social Inclusion Boards Pimlico-Bound Van; Pimentel Has Preakness Mount on Kid Cruz

BALTIMORE, 05-07-14California Chrome, the early favorite for the 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, returned to the racetrack during training hours at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.

California Chrome was accompanied by exercise rider Willie Delgado and Alan Sherman, the son and assistant of trainer Art Sherman, on his way to the racetrack for the first time since winning last Saturday’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Owned by his breeders Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome paused before reaching the five-furlong gap, taking a couple of minutes to check out the activity before going onto the track. California Chrome stood in front of the clockers’ stand briefly and then jogged one mile.

“Good. Good. Really super,” said Delgado, a former jockey, trainer and exercise rider on the Maryland circuit. “He went out there like he always does. He is his normal self.”

Alan Sherman was similarly delighted.

“It went really good,” Sherman said. “He wanted to train; he was tired of walking.”

Sherman said California Chrome would resume galloping Thursday and maintain that schedule for as long as the California-bred colt remains at Churchill Downs.

“I still haven’t heard about the plane; whether we will go to Pimlico Monday or Wednesday,” Sherman said. “I’d preferMonday. The key now is to keep him happy.”

While California Chrome’s travel plans hadn’t been firmed up, Preakness candidate Social Inclusion hit the road for PimlicoWednesday morning.

The Wood Memorial (G1) third-place finisher boarded a Pimlico-bound van at Gulfstream Park at approximately 10:30 a.m.after returning to the racetrack for the first time since being scratched from Saturday’s Sir Bear Stakes with a bruise in his right front foot. The son of Pioneerof the Nile jogged to the satisfaction of trainer Manny Azpurua and Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Ron Sanchez.

“We’re all set and excited,” Sanchez said. “I was a little concerned Saturday with the bruise, then I was happy (Tuesday) and today I’m excited. He went out jogging today and everything was great. Manny and his guys did a great job.”

Social Inclusion was accompanied on the van by Rontos Racing’s Hey Leroy, the Appleton (G3) winner who is being pointed to the $400,000 Dixie (G2) on Preakness Day.

Plans call for Social Inclusion to walk Thursday morning after his scheduled early-morning arrival at Pimlico, gallop Friday,Saturday and Sunday and breeze on Monday.

Luis Contreras, who rode Social Inclusion in a pair of dazzling victories at Gulfstream and his show performance in the Wood, has the call for the Preakness.

Veteran Maryland jockey Julian Pimentel has retained the mount on Kid Cruz for the 139th Preakness.

Pimentel, 33, a regular in Maryland since the summer of 2006, rode Kid Cruz to victories in the Private Terms on March 8 at Laurel and the Federico Tesio on April 19 at Pimlico. Through Tuesday, Pimentel has 1,298 victories. He is the regular rider for the top turf sprinter Ben’s Cat, owned and trained by King Leatherbury. Pimentel is 17-for-27 on Ben’s Cat and they are scheduled to try for a repeat win in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on May 16.

Kid Cruz, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, has three wins and a second in five career starts. Trainer Linda Rice claimed the colt for Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds out of his second start on Nov. 22. He finished second in an Aqueduct allowance race in January, won the two Maryland stakes and is scheduled to try graded company for the first time in the Preakness.

“He did get a race over the course down there, handled it well,” Rice said. “It’s going to be a big step up in company to run against the Derby horses, particularly California Chrome. It’s a big jump up in competition, but we are hopeful.”

Following the Private Terms, Rice entered Kid Cruz in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 5 but opted to scratch out of New York’s Kentucky Derby prep.

“I put him in the Wood with the idea that if he did run well it still kept the door open for the Derby because he did not have any points to get into the Derby,” she said. “But he has had a bit of an issue with his right front shoulder with what I believe is a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. So we were treating him for that. He came up a little sore after his breeze into the Wood and I decided to wait and give it some time, so I wasn’t able to run him in the Wood.”

In the Tesio, Kid Cruz came four-wide from off the pace to post an emphatic 3 ½-length victory.


In other Preakness News:

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning with Maurice Sanchez aboard for trainer Tom Amoss.

Sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) last Friday, Ria Antonia is scheduled for a light breeze Monday.

The filly was transferred from Bob Baffert to Amoss on Monday. Amoss trains a string of horses for Ron Paolucci (Loooch Racing), and Paolucci has stated that he wants a Midwest campaign for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner that includes a shot at the Ohio Derby (G3).

Amoss told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Ria Antonia’s Preakness status would be firmed up early next week.

“A decision will be made on Tuesday whether or not we’re going to do that – that will involve how she trains, how she works and how she comes out of her work,” Amoss said. “If the decision is made to go on to the Preakness, it will be a decision that I also stand behind. I’m willing to take that responsibility, because I would not run a horse unless I thought we had a shot to win,” he added. “People who know me and know my reputation, know that’s the way I operate. I can assure you either I’m going to be for it and we’ll do it, or we’re not going to do it.”

Kaleem Shah’s Bayern returned to the track at Churchill Downs on a mild and clear morning to jog a mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez for trainer Bob Baffert.

Bayern, who was disqualified from first in the April 26 Derby Trial (G3) for interference in deep stretch, had worked a bullet five-eighths in 58.20 seconds on Monday under jockey Rosie Napravnik.

Jim Barnes, who is overseeing Baffert’s Churchill Downs string, said Bayern would resume galloping Thursday and work againon Monday.

“That is our usual routine to work five days out and then ship on Wednesday,” Barnes said.

John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact, winner of the Illinois Derby (G3) in his stakes debut in his most recent start, galloped 1 ½ miles under Marco Cano for trainer Mark Casse.

Miguel Mena, who was aboard Dynamic Impact for the Illinois Derby victory, is slated to be aboard when the Tiznow colt works on Saturday.

“That was the first time he rode him in a race,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father. “He may have gotten on him last summer when he was helping us out getting on horses.”

Seventh-place Kentucky Derby finisher Ride On Curlin returned to the track at Churchill Downs for the first time since Saturday’s race.

With trainer Billy Gowan on the right and groom Bridget Lambert on the left, Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin walked from Barn 47 to the six-furlong gap where exercise rider Bryan Beccia hopped aboard.

Ride On Curlin backtracked to the finish line and then galloped an easy 1 1/8 miles.

“He was 110 percent; all systems are go,” Beccia told Gowan after the exercise. “He will do the same thing the next two days,” Gowan said. “I will probably work him a slow half when he gets to Pimlico.”

Gowan is hoping there will be a Monday plane to Baltimore and he said Ride On Curlin would not work at Churchill even if there should be no flight until Wednesday.

“I am betting on a plane for Monday,” Gowan said.

Trainer Wesley Ward reported that Pablo Del Monte jogged at Keeneland Wednesday morning and that the Giant’s Causeway colt would work over the weekend for the Preakness.

Pablo Del Monte drew into the Kentucky Derby field from the also-eligible list when Hoppertunity scratched with an injury, but Ward decided to wait for the Preakness instead of having him run from the outside post in a 20-horse field.

In six career starts, Pablo Del Monte has two wins and two thirds. He was third in his most recent race, the Blue Grass (G1,) after setting the early pace and leading into the stretch.

Preakness prospect Ring Weekend, the winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, is scheduled to breeze at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. for trainer Graham Motion.

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Wednesday that no decision has been made on the immediate future of any of his 3-year-olds.



While the Preakness is the centerpiece of the spring meeting, fourteen other stakes races and two Maryland-bred starter handicaps will provide a weekend full of excitement for racing fans. A total of 483 horses were nominated to those added-money races. Pimlico will debut a $100,000 trainer bonus next weekend with trainers earning points based on finishes in 15 stakes races.

  • ·        May 16—Black-Eyed Susan, Pimlico Special, Miss Preakness, Jim McKay Turf Sprint, Hilltop, Skipat, Rollicking
  • ·        May 17—Preakness, Dixie, Maryland Sprint, Gallorette, Chick Lang, James Murphy, Sir Barton, The Very One

Trainers will receive points for finishing first (10 points), second (7), third (5), fourth (3) and starting a horse (1 point) in each race. The winner will earn $50,000. Other prize money: $25,000 (second), $12,000 (third), $7,000 (fourth), $4,000 (fifth) and $2,000 (sixth). Trainers must have started five horses in the stakes combined to be eligible.

The $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) headline the Friday, May 16 card that features six other stakes races. Twenty-nine three-year-old fillies were nominated to the Black-Eyed Susan, including expected starters America, Euphrosyne, Fortune Pearl and Joint Return. Thirty-right runners were nominated to the Pimlico Special, including Moreno, Frac Daddy and Carve.

Thirty-eight fillies were nominated to the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes. Thirty horses were nominated to the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, including defending champion Ben’s Cat, a winner of 20 lifetime stakes races. Thirty-eight three-year-old fillies were nominated to the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes, while thirty-one fillies and mares were nominated to the $100,000 Skipat Stakes. Twenty-five two-year olds were nominated to the $75,000 Rollicking Stakes and another eleven to the $40,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for Maryland-breds.

The Pimlico racing office will draw the May 16 card on Sunday afternoon.

The Preakness undercard features eight added money races, including three graded. Forty-five top grass specialists were entered in the $400,000 Dixie Stakes (G2). Forty-three fillies and mares were nominated to the $150,000 Gallorette Handicap (G3). The $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) features thirty-five nominations. Twenty-nine three-year-old sprinters were nominated to the $100,000 Chick Lang. Forty-two three-year-olds were nominated to the $100,00 Sir Barton Stakes. Thirty-four turf specialists were nominated to the $100,000 James Murphy. Thirty female turf specialists were nominated to the $100,000 The Very One Stakes. There were twenty-one Maryland-breds on the list for the $40,000 Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap.

The Pimlico racing office will draw the May 17 card on Wednesday, May 14.

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