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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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Legendary Maryland horse trainer Small dies at 68

Posted on 05 April 2014 by WNST Staff

BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC WINNING TRAINER DICKIE SMALL PASSES

BALTIMORE, 04-05-14—Prominent Maryland trainer Richard (Dickie) Small, who conditioned 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Concern, died late Friday night after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.

Born in Baltimore on December 2, 1945, Small attended the Gilman School, played lacrosse at the University of Delaware and served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a Green Beret before launching his training career in 1974.

He finished his career with 1,199 wins with earnings of $38.9 million, according to Equibase: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=People&searchType=T&eID=25701

“Dickie was the consummate horsemen,” said Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind, a friend of Small for more than 40 years. “Horses came first. He put everything into the horses. He knew everything about his horse right down to the pimples. He was a good man and very easy to deal with from the racing office perspective.”

“I had a conversation with Dickie last week via text and he spoke of looking forward to us catching up in the spring,” jockey Rosie Napravnik said. “He stayed so positive all the way to the end and I admire him for that and in so many other ways. Dickie was a great horsemen and a great man. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had him in my life.”

Small won 36 graded stakes during his career, including Grade 1 scores by Caesar’s Wish, Broad Brush and Concern.

Small considered Caesar’s Wish the best horse he ever trained. The Maryland-bred won five stakes as a 2-year-old, had four added money victories at three, including the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Mother Goose (G1), where she broke Ruffian’s record.

Broad Brush, who retired at age four in 1987 as Maryland’s all-time money winner, was Small’s next star. The son of Ack Ack finished in the money in 24-of-27 career starts and earned nearly $2.7 million for owner-breeder Robert Meyerhoff. As a three-year-old Broad Brush won the Wood Memorial (G1) and finished third in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). He came back the next year with two G1 victories: the Santa Anita and Suburban Handicaps.

“The best stories about Dickie involved Broad Brush when he would take him for a ride in the van before races to get him to relax,” added Blind. “He just drove him around the Beltway and brought him back to the barn and the horse performed.”

Broad Brush’s son Concern won the 1994 Arkansas Derby (G2) and finished third in the Preakness (G1) but peaked later that season, capturing the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs beating Tabasco Cat by a neck at the wire at odds of 7-1. He finished in the money in all 14 starts that year with earnings exceeding $2.5 million.

Small, who also conditioned multiple graded winners Tactile and Valley Crossing, won a stakes race in Maryland every year but one from 1974-2013.

“That is an amazing statistic,” Blind said. “I remember the year he didn’t do it (2003). He was so disappointed that the streak was broken.”

Small was known for helping launch the careers of female riders such as Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown, Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Dickie Small School of Racing is one of the best in the country,” Blind said. “For as gruff as Dickie could be, especially when he was younger, he had a knack of working well with female riders. Dickie knew what to look for in horses and people. He was a great teacher.”

Small’s father, Doug, and uncle, Sid Watters, were both well-known Maryland trainers.

Services for Small are still pending as of Saturday morning, according to his assistant Dylan Smith.

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McGaughey “couldn’t be more pleased” with Orb’s Friday work

Posted on 17 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DERBY WINNER ORB PRIMED FOR START IN SATURDAY’S PREAKNESS

NAPRAVNIK HAPPY TO BE HOME; DEPARTING READY TO STEP UP

BALTIMORE, 05-17-13 – Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb galloped an energetic 1 ¼ miles at Pimlico Friday morning, letting exercise rider Jenn Patterson and trainer Shug McGaughey know that he’s ready for Saturday’s 138th running of the Preakness Stakes.

“He took a nice little hold of Jenn, was right on with his leads and moved over the track great, so I couldn’t be more pleased with what I saw,” McGaughey said.

Orb has pleased his trainer every day since he captured the Kentucky Derby by 2 ½ lengths. While training at Belmont, where he produced an eye-catching half-mile workout on Monday, and since arriving at Pimlico Monday afternoon, Orb has given his trainer the same signals he gave off during his pre-Derby training.

“I think it’s been every bit as good. I think maybe his work at Belmont was even better. Since he’s gotten down here, he’s really, really settled in well,” McGaughey said. “He’s been eating really well. I’m very pleased with his appearance and everything is on ‘go.’ ”

Orb, who is the even-money favorite for the nine-horse Preakness, has boosted his trainer’s confidence in his chances to add the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to his resume. McGaughey, however, isn’t counting the winner’s share of the $1 million purse just yet.

“There are a lot of ways to lose, as we all know. Freaky things can happen. I think we’re in the position where we can kind of dictate the race and hope, if we don’t get in trouble, that he can make his run and then see what happens,” McGaughey said. “We hope he doesn’t get in trouble; we hope he handles the track; we hope he handles the kickback of dirt; we hope he handles the day. If he does all that, I would have to think it’s going to take a pretty darn good horse to beat him.”

If there has been anything that could possibly be perceived as a negative for Orb, it’s probably his No. 1 post position that may hold at least the slight potential to get him trapped inside.

“I don’t think it’s a problem. I think he’ll be fine; it’s a long distance,” said jockey Joel Rosario, who rode Orb to victory at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.

Rosario’s flawless ride in the Derby did nothing but boost McGaughey’s faith in his jockey’s big-race ability.

“I don’t know if anyone could have ridden him better. He got him over a little bit to get around the first turn without losing a whole lot of ground. He held his position there, got him to the outside and was very patient with him,” McGaughey said. “Being that far back, you might want to move a little bit quicker than you want to and hang. But he was very patient and he told me he was relaxed and got into the flow of the race very well and ‘was just waiting on me.’ “

McGaughey said he wouldn’t give Rosario detailed instructions on how to ride Orb in the Preakness.

“I’m a man of very little instructions, because you never know what’s going to happen once the gate opens,” he said. “We will talk a little bit, but the biggest thing I’ll tell him is, ‘Ride him with confidence.’ ”

Winning the Kentucky Derby for the first time realized a career-long dream, but McGaughey isn’t ready to rest on his laurels.

“I think winning the Derby does take a little pressure off you,” he said. “But I also think that we’re excited about giving him a whirl tomorrow afternoon and see if we can’t get it done so we can go on to the next step.”

 

MYLUTE – Jockey Rosie Napravnik started her career in Maryland, rode her first winner at Pimlico and returns to Old Hilltop as one of the top stories of the 138th Preakness. The local favorite, now one of the leading riders in the country, followed Derby-winning trainer Shug McGaughey and winning jockey Joel Rosario to the podium for the Friday morning press conference at the Pimlico Stakes Barn.

“Preakness or not, I’m so excited to be home,” she said. “I had a terrible trip coming in last night, but I was driving home at 11 o’clock just excited to be here. To come and ride the Preakness is really a dream come true. I’m really happy to be here.”

Napravnik, 25, moved to trainer Holly Robinson’s farm in Sparks, Md., in the summer of 2004 and started exercising horses. She won her career debut aboard Ringofdiamonds for trainer Dickie Small on June 9, 2005. Nearly eight years, another 1,543 wins and more than $49 million in purse earnings later, she is ready for her first ride in Maryland’s signature race.

While most jockeys would call a Kentucky Derby victory the most important achievement, Napravnik said for her the Preakness is in the discussion.

“I would say they are head-and-head,” she said. “The Derby would mean so much for my career and to so many people. The Preakness would really be a great personal accomplishment. I don’t know which would be more exciting. I haven’t won either yet, so I’ll let you know when it happens.”

Napravnik will be the third female rider in Preakness history and the first since Andrea Seefeldt finished seventh in 1994. At the press conference, she fielded a question about being a female rider.

“I guess it will always be asked. I’m glad to be here,” she said. “I’m not doing this because I’m a girl. I’m not trying to win the race because I’m a female jockey. I just want to win the race.”

The Preakness will be Napravnik’s third ride on Mylute. They won an allowance race together at Fair Grounds in December and finished fifth in the Derby, 3 3/4 lengths behind Orb. Mylute, the 5-1 second choice on the morning line, drew the No. 5 post in the nine-horse field. Orb has the rail.

One of the first questions she was asked at the press conference was, “How do you beat Orb?”

“We followed him last time in the Derby,” she said. “We do have a little bit of an outside advantage on him, We’ll have to see how the race sets up and we’ll have to move forward a couple of lengths. I do think that Mylute is moving forward.”

Napravnik smiled at the follow-up: How good is Orb?

“He seems like a very good horse and one that is moving forward, as well, but Mylute is definitely coming along, too,” she said. “He’s a little bit of a slow learner, but I think he’s really waking up and improving as a race horse. He’s really getting that competitive drive and he’s got a powerful move.”

Napravnik knows Pimlico and said it will suit Mylute’s closing style.

“I think that this track is stereotypically called a speed-biased track, but, honestly, I’ve ridden on this track a million times and I really think that it’s a fair track,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be any disadvantage to us coming from behind and it’s a very long stretch.”

Still, she said that her familiarity with Pimlico does not give her a serious home-track advantage.

“Jockeys, in general, we adjust all the time to new tracks,” she said. “I don’t think it’s such a huge deal, but obviously being very familiar with the track is probably an advantage. I’ve ridden this race course a million times and won plenty of races on it. At least for me, it’s not something I have to get to know.”

The Derby experience gave Napravnik a better understanding of how to handle Mylute on Saturday.

“A lot of people had said he broke bad, which is not true,” she said. “He broke fine with the group, but he just dropped back. If there is anything I would change is maybe not be quite as far back. He’s got a great running style. He’s very relaxed. He’s very easy to ride. You can move him in or out, wherever he wants to go.

“What I really learned about him is that his class is kind of coming out and he’s really improving. I’m really excited about this race.”

 

DEPARTING – Illinois Derby (G3) winner Departing was on the fast track at Pimlico at 6:30 Friday morning for a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Trina Pasckvale.

“He was very relaxed and gradually picked it up on his own and got stronger the last half-mile,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “I wish we had taught him that, but that’s him. He does it on his own.”

Departing may go to the track Saturday morning during the training period between 5-5:30 that will be reserved for Preakness horses.

“I think I might jog him a mile and try to keep him in a routine,” Stall said. “The race isn’t until after 6 and it is a very long day.”

On Thursday afternoon, Departing schooled in the paddock with horses from the fourth race and passed with flying colors.

“That was fine,” Stall said. “They (Departing and Miss Preakness entrant Tread) stood like soldiers.”

Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing will break from post position 4 under Brian Hernandez Jr., who has been aboard the gelding for all five of his starts.

The lone loss was a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2), a race in which the winner, Revolutionary, ran third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), runner-up Mylute was fifth in the Derby and fourth-place finisher Golden Soul was second in the Derby.

Stall had equated Departing’s Louisiana Derby effort to a college player going to the NFL. Was Departing NFL material after the Louisiana Derby?

“Definitely, and he showed it in the Illinois Derby,” Stall said of a race Departing won by 3 ¼ lengths after breaking from the No. 13 post. “In retrospect, looking at how the horses performed coming out of the race, that was an NFL game. We handicapped the race coming in and looked at Revolutionary. He was not an (Aqueduct) inner track horse. You could throw that out the window. (Trainer) Todd (Pletcher) had him down in Florida for eight weeks. He was a dirt horse.”

Departing will be Stall’s first Preakness starter since Terrain ran seventh in 2009, finishing eight lengths behind Rachel Alexandra. Like Departing, Terrain did not run in the Kentucky Derby.

“It was a 20-horse field (for the Derby) and he had finished fourth in the Blue Grass,” Stall said. “We had already made plans for the Preakness before Jess Jackson bought Rachel Alexandra.”

Stall has made a couple of trips back to Pimlico since the 2009 Preakness, winning the William Donald Schaefer (G3) in 2010 with Blame and repeating in 2011 with Apart.

Blame’s victory started a campaign that culminated with a triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) over the wildly popular mare Zenyatta. On Saturday, Stall will be in a similar spot trying to knock off Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

“I am sure all the riders will be keeping an eye on Orb,” Stall said. (Trainer) Shug (McGaughey) said he wanted a target on his back and he’s sure got one. This will probably be the shortest field for a Triple Crown race and the craziest races and weird things can happen in short fields.”

Orb will break from the No. 1 post position and sometime in the race, Joel Rosario on Orb may have to get off the rail.

“There can’t be any ushers out there tomorrow,” Stall said with a laugh.

Stall was asked what he would like to see from Departing in Preakness 138.

“I want to see Brian have a handful of horse,” Stall said. “There are three to five of them who figure to be in front early with us being behind them.”

Stall expects horses such as Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday to perform better Saturday than they did at Churchill Downs, as well as Will Take Charge, who had a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby in his first race in seven weeks.

And then there is Orb.

“I know Orb will run his race and it is not like him to take a step back,” Stall said. “We need to take a step forward. I am confident he (Departing) will run well. The rest of it is out of our control. Orb has found his level; now it is a matter of how high we can go.”

Departing will attempt to become the eighth gelding to win the Preakness. The two most recent geldings to prevail came 10 years apart, Prairie Bayou in 1993 and Funny Cide in 2003.

 

GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill broke up his regular routine Friday morning and sent the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner out nearly two hours before his usual Pimlico appearance for a one-mile maintenance gallop shortly after 7 a.m. The result was the same as it’s been all week.

“He looked great,” said O’Neill, who saddled Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another for a victory in last year’s Preakness.  “He’s had a terrific week. This track in the morning is almost like a training center. It’s so tranquil and quiet. We enjoyed it last year, and so far, so good this year.”

Owned by W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney and Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, the $62,000 yearling purchase has proven an outstanding investment. A three-time stakes winner, the Into Mischief colt already has bankrolled $1.25 million with four victories from seven starts.

The downside to Goldencents is his dismal 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby over a sloppy, sealed racetrack at Churchill Downs. He was listed at odds of 8-1 in the morning line for the Preakness after drawing the No. 2 post position in the field of nine.

“We haven’t closed our eyes and just said, ‘Oh, we’ll do the exact same thing that we did going into the Derby,’” O’Neill said. “We tweaked a few things and I just think with the track looking like it’s going to be a nice, safe, fast track, that’s one less excuse, too. But when they throw in a head-scratcher, the next time, as confident as you may be, it’s tempered a little bit.”

A colt with great tactical speed, Goldencents had been in every other race he’d started, his close fourth in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita being the worst performance before his Derby flop.

“He gallops at a real high cruising speed and we kind of reeled that in before the Santa Anita Derby,” said O’Neill, who decided not to conduct a formal workout between the Derby and Preakness. “Now we’ve kind of gone back to our original way of preparing him and we’ll see what happens. He looks really, really good and I’m excited about him. I think he’s going to run a big race.”

Part-owner Dave Kenney was here last year as part of O’Neill’s much larger post-Derby entourage, and although he didn’t have any stake in I’ll Have Another, he did get a taste of the Preakness flavor.

“The experience has been great,” said Kenney, who owns a large transportation dealership in Southern California and counts multiple-stakes winner Richard’s Kid among his many thoroughbred holdings. “We’re anxiously excited about the race. The people at the Preakness have just been phenomenal to us. They’re gracious hosts, and hopefully we can get a little different result than the last big race.”

Jockey Kevin Krigger, who has been aboard all seven starts for Goldencents, will try to become the first African-American rider to win the Preakness since Willie Simms captured the 1898 edition with Sly Fox.

 

GOVENOR CHARLIE – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is satisfied that his Midnight Lute colt belongs in the 138th Preakness, in which he is one of the new shooters ready to take on Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner.

Baffert knows a little bit about the Preakness, a race he has won five times from 13 starters since 1996. He was second with Bodemeister last year and third with Congaree in 2001.

“Can he beat Orb? We don’t know, but I think he could run 1-2-3,” Baffert said Friday morning. “I feel if I can run 1-2-3 then I have a chance. I want to be competitive.”

Govenor Charlie missed some training time in April with a minor foot bruise and was kept out of the Kentucky Derby. He showed that he was in top form with an impressive six-furlong breeze Monday at Churchill Downs and Baffert decided to send the colt to Baltimore.

“When he did what he did, we were waiting for something like that,” Baffert said. “When you go that fast, 1:10 4/5 at Churchill Downs, out in 1:24 4/5, with Fed Biz, well, the light just went on.”

Govenor Charlie is a Mike Pegram homebred, a descendent of some of the owner-breeder’s top runners, Hall of Famer Silverbulletday and Derby-Preakness winner Real Quiet. The colt was slow to develop and didn’t make his debut until Jan. 19. He broke his maiden in his second race, at a mile in mid-February and became a Derby prospect with a runaway victory in the Sunland Derby (G3) in March

“He was actually a surprise to us because he was this little bulldog-looking horse,” Baffert said. “When I stretched him out that’s when he really showed a big race and then he ran fast, broke the track record at Sunland.

“And he’s got that family, Silverbulletday. It’s just champion, champion, champion. There are champions all over that pedigree. Yet, he doesn’t look like her. He’s got a lot of Storm Cat.”

Govenor Charlie’s dam is Silverbulletway, an unraced daughter of Storm Cat and Silverbulletday. Midnight Lute, was sired by Real Quiet out of the Dehere mare Candytuft.

Orb, who won the Derby by 2 1/2 lengths, has trained well for the Preakness and is the even-money favorite in the morning line. Baffert was asked whether it was too early to anoint Orb a legitimate threat to sweep the Triple Crown.

“He’s got to get by this one. You can’t get ahead of yourself,” Baffert said. “I think it’s a very competitive race. A lot of horses that didn’t run well in the Derby come back and run well. I’ve seen that.”

Baffert said other Preakness runners have looked good to him and that he was impressed by Itsmyluckyday’s appearance.

Govenor Charlie, who will be ridden by Martin Garcia, drew post No. 8 and is 12-1 in the morning line.

“I’m a long shot and I should be a long shot,” Baffert said. “I think we’re all thinking about what kind of horse Orb is. Is he a super horse? He’s a very good horse. When you win five in a row, you’re a really good horse. The way he does it, he doesn’t have to be on the lead and that’s a big difference. If he was a front-running horse, then it makes it tough.”
ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Eddie Plesa Jr. looked on as Itsmyluckyday’s coat glistened in the morning sun following a bath outside the Preakness Stakes Barn Friday morning. The veteran South Florida trainer liked what he saw, just as he liked what he saw at the 2012 Ocala Breeders’ March sale.

“I liked the pedigree and I liked what he would become as far as growing up. You can look at horses and you can envision what they’re going to turn out to be. That’s part of the process,” Plesa said. “He certainly exceeded my expectations.”

When he purchased Itsmyluckyday for his wife, Laurie, and the Trilogy Stable for $110,000, Plesa didn’t exactly envision that the son of Lawyer Ron would develop into a Kentucky Derby and Preakness starter.

“For someone to say that, you’re telling a little story. Way, way, way back in your mind, you might say, ‘I hope.’ But I didn’t look at him and say, ‘My Derby horse!’ ”Plesa said. “I liked the pedigree and I liked what I saw, and we were lucky enough that he fell into our price category.”

Itsmyluckyday, who went to the track for a routine gallop Friday morning, finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby over a sloppy track that his connections blame for the subpar performance. His only “off” track experience produced a four-length victory in a minor stakes at Calder last year.

“People look to Calder and you can’t compare them. Calder’s like no other racetrack when it’s sloppy. It’s a sand racetrack and when it rains, it tightens the racetrack up. There might be puddles on top and it might splash back at you, but as far as firmness for the horse, it’s firmer when it rains than when it doesn’t rain,” Plesa said. “The slop line at Calder…people who put credence into it are doing wrong.”

Plesa said he was hoping for a fast track, over which everyone would get a fair chance.

 

OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – With two Hall of Famers keeping watch over him Friday morning, Titletown Five seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of attention for a potential 30-1 shot in the field for Preakness 138.

“I feel good, just being in it,” said NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung, the ex-Green Bay Packer and part-owner of the colt who represents the “Five”  in Titletown Five. “I’ve been here many times. This is the first time one of the horses I own is in a race of this magnitude. I’m going to be very interested in watching him run. We’re gonna make a run somewhere.”

Hornung, who is the same age (77) as his Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, knows he may not have many more chances like this on racing’s big stage. And as a native of Kentucky Derby hometown Louisville, Hornung has always had more than a passing interest in horse racing, even when he was setting records on the gridiron at Notre Dame and helping the Packers win an NFL championship in 1965.

“I’ve been to the Derby many times; I’ve been here many times; I’ve been to New York and Saratoga many times,” said the former “Golden Boy,” who along with ex-teammate Willie Davis and Lukas comprise the majority of the Tiznow colt’s ownership. “This is a real thrill for me to be involved.”

Titletown Five is a colt that he and Lukas had high hopes for as a 2-year-old, but following his maiden victory at Churchill Downs in October, the $250,000 purchase was found to have bone chips in a front knee that required surgery.

“If  Titletown Five didn’t get that chip in his knee, he was going to be one of the really good horses,” Lukas said. “I was devastated; he’d won by nine or 10 lengths. He’s sound, but we lost the whole winter conditioning and everything.”

Titletown Five is winless in three starts this season, but it does bear mentioning that as a 2-year-old he got the best of  Kentucky Derby winner Orb in a maiden race at Saratoga.

“He beat Orb,” said Lukas, who is seeking his sixth Preakness win with a three-horse contingent that includes Oxbow and Will Take Charge. “It was early in his career and he’s (Orb) a late-developing horse, but we still beat him.”

Hornung was there that August afternoon when Titletown Five finished second and Orb was third in one of Saratoga’s key maiden races of 2012.

“It gives me an idea that we’ve got a good horse,” Hornung said. “I think we can do it if we run our race. If you do it once, you can do it again.”

Lukas pronounced all three horses ready for the assignment after Friday morning gallops at Pimlico. Julien Leparoux will be aboard Titletown Five for the first time Saturday.

“I was really pleased with what I saw today,” Lukas said. “They’ve gotten better every day since they got here (Tuesday).”

Two more Hall of Famers, jockey Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, will have the mounts on Oxbow and Will Take Charge, respectively. Between them, they have won the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown three times, Stevens won aboard Silver Charm (1997) and Point Given (2001) and Smith with Prairie Bayou (1993).  Stevens was retired when Oxbow began his racing career at Saratoga last August.

“When I saw Gary around January or February he was fit and I thought he looked better on a horse in the morning than prior to his retirement when his knees were bothering him,” Lukas said. “He just looked better and seemed in a better place. There’s no doubt about his talent, so I said to him, ‘Gary, I’ve got a couple 3-year-olds that are coming along. Watch them, and if one of them looks like it’s going to be good enough, I’d have no problem putting you on.’”

Still, Stevens was attempting a comeback at the age of 50 in a sport where most of the competitors were 20 or 30 years younger.

“He started winning a few races at Santa Anita and I thought, ‘Hell, let’s go,’” Lukas said. “I was telling somebody else who was criticizing me for putting him on: ‘You know any other combination that’s got seven Derbys between them?’

“Mike Smith has been good for us, too. The experience thing is huge in these races. It really shows up in these big ones – pressure. These young guys they say, ‘Aw, it doesn’t bother me,’ but it bothers them. And this may be more of a jockey’s race than the other two. I think they better have their heads screwed on here.”

With saddling a third of the field, he feels good about his chances.

“I only like to come here if I’m competitive,” he said. “I think we are. Orb’s the best horse, let’s face it. This year it’s exciting for me. I’ve got a lot of passion for it.”

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Napravnik-ridden Mylute will run in Preakness

Posted on 11 May 2013 by WNST Staff

NAPRAVNIK TO RETURN TO HER ROOTS FOR PREAKNESS  STAKES

MYLUTE A GO FOR MIDDLE JEWEL; DERBY HERO ORB GALLOPS; STREET SPICE NO LONGER A CANDIDATE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-11-13 – Moments after learning that trainer Tom Amoss had confirmed that Mylute would be headed to Pimlico Race Course to run in next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1), jockey Rosie Napravnik expressed her excitement on Twitter Saturday morning:“Get your PREAK ON baby I’m coming home ;-) I promise you there is no other jockey who wants to win the #Preakness more than me! MYLUTE”

Another tweet quickly followed:“Ok maybe Rosario… But I bet it’s just been added to his list recently haha”

While Joel Rosario surely has been very intent on winning the Preakness since guiding Orb to victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4, winning the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown has been on Napravnik’s radar since launching her riding career at Pimlico on June 9, 2005.

Nearly eight years later, Napravnik will have the opportunity to realize her dream of winning the Preakness aboard Mylute, whom she rode to a solid fifth-place finish behind Orb in the Kentucky Derby.

“I’m fired up,” said thoroughbred racing’s most successful woman jockey Saturday morning by phone from Churchill Downs. “The Preakness is just as high up on my list as the Derby to win. It would probably mean the most to me to win at Pimlico, where I started out and have all the original supporters, the people who really got me going. It would mean so much to win that race.”

The 25-year-old native of Morristown, N.J. credits Maryland trainers Holly Robinson and Richard Small with helping her get established and supporting her through her four years of riding and dominating at Pimlico and Laurel Park. During the summer of 2004, Napravnik moved to Robinson’s Sparks, Md. farm, where her sister, Jazz, worked as an assistant trainer. She attended nearby Hereford High School during her junior year while galloping horses and learning her trade.

On June 9, 2005, Small named the 17-year-old apprentice to ride Ringofdiamonds, and she sent her very first mount right to the lead and into the Pimlico winner’s circle. Saturday morning, Napravnik recalled her first career victory in detail.

“I remember thinking that I was so glad that it was first race of the day and I didn’t have to wait and be anxious all day. Even leading up to it, it was surreal that it was even happening. I remember not even knowing how to read the Racing Form. I had handicapped the race to the best of my ability and I figured I would be somewhere near the front of the pack. I was in the one-hole going two turns, which really isn’t that easy to do at Pimlico,” she recalled.

“Luis Garcia who had ridden the filly multiple times and won on her multiple times was also in the race. He came up to me in the paddock and said, ‘If you go to the lead, you will win easy.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll just go to the lead,’ but I had no idea what I was doing. And somehow I got the lead from the one-hole going those two turns and we never looked back,” she added.

“I pulled my stick through to the left hand because I remember Dickie telling me really early on that that’s what I should do because everybody would be watching and everybody would notice that. So that’s what I did. I pulled my stick through to the left hand. I think I might have only hit her one time. It was all so surreal and unbelievable that I was winning that race. My mom was there. My sister was there. It was so exciting.”

She went on to win several riding titles in Maryland, where she led all jockeys in victories in 2006 and 2008, before moving on to ride in New York, Delaware and Louisiana with great success. Napravnik, who has been the leading rider at Fair Grounds for the past three meetings, became the first woman to ride the winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) aboard Believe You Can in 2012. Through all of her successes Napravnik has never forgotten her roots.

“When I’m riding in the Derby, all through Derby week, and when I won the Oaks last year, I automatically reflect on it and think about Dickie and Holly and starting out,” Napravnik said. “It feels like it was just yesterday to me. They are very special to me. I couldn’t be more proud to come back and ride in the Preakness.”

Napravnik is excited to ride an improving horse like Mylute in the Preakness.

“He ran an excellent race in the Derby. We got a very wide trip. We followed Orb basically the whole race. That was a big test of his class and his talent and he really came through. He’s a horse that is improving at the right time,” she said. “I think he’s going to move forward a lot off that race. I don’t think it’s something where it took everything out of him and would cause him to regress at all. He’s maturing and has the competitive drive of a really good race horse.”

Napravnik will become the third female rider to have a Preakness mount, joining Patti Cooksey (sixth aboard Tajawa in 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (seventh with Looming in 1994).

Amoss was obviously encouraged that Mylute has maintained his form and competitive edge following a mile jog and a two-mile gallop at Churchill Downs Saturday morning.

“I talked with Paul Buhlman (of GoldMark) and Mandy Pope (of Whisper Hill) and we discussed how he was doing and how he was training and the decision was made to go to the Preakness,” Amoss said. “He is booked on the plane for Wednesday morning to go to Baltimore.”

Amoss, who plans to give Mylute a half-mile workout early Monday morning, is well aware of the task at hand in the Preakness.

“We have to find four lengths,” Amoss said referring to Orb’s advantage over Mylute in the Derby. “If Orb runs his race back in the Preakness, he will be hard to beat.”

 

ORB – Nearly a week had passed since Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb registered a 2 ½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby, and trainer Shug McGaughey reflected on the highlight of his Hall of Fame career Saturday morning.

“I’m still excited. I’m still thrilled. I’ll be thrilled for the rest of my life,” McGaughey said. “The main thing is just to see how excited and how thrilled Mr. (Dinny) Phipps and Mr. Janney have been since the race. Also the morale of our barn is just through the roof. Everybody is so excited.”

McGaughey’s excitement is matched by his immense pride over Orb’s Derby performance.

“I picture that move in my mind time and time again,” he said. “He ran such a professional race and he ran so well, it was so much fun to watch.”

Orb jogged three-eighths of a mile and galloped 1 ½ miles over a sealed muddy track at Belmont Park Saturday morning.

 

DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing galloped 1 ½ miles over a track labeled “muddy” early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Trina Pasckvale up.

Trained by Al Stall Jr., the Illinois Derby (G3) winner is scheduled to work a half-mile Sunday morning with Larry Melancon slated to be aboard.
GOLDENCENTS – The Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner went to the sloppy, sealed Pimlico track at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for a second day of exercise following a 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. His regular jockey, Kevin Krigger, was in the saddle.

Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson is managing Goldencents and 13 other horses from trainer Doug O’Neill’s stable at Pimlico. O’Neill is scheduled to travel from California to Baltimore on Sunday.  Sisterson said that Krigger and Goldencents repeated Friday’s jog and gallop routine.

“We jogged to the seven-eighths and kind of broke off from there into a steady gallop from the three-quarter pole and galloped around to the wire,” Sisterson said. “Kevin kind of relaxed him and pulled him up down the backside. He looked fantastic and Kevin was very happy with him. His energy level was high. He was striding out. Everything we want to see in him.”

Goldencents is scheduled to work Monday morning.

 

GOVENOR CHARLIE – Mike Pegram’s Govenor Charlie galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill over a track that had been upgraded to “good” after the morning renovation break. Jorge Alvarez was aboard for the morning exercise.

Trainer Bob Baffert plans to work the Sunland Derby (G3) winner on Monday.

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY – A wet track at Monmouth Park prompted trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. to postpone Itsmyluckyday’s scheduled breeze Saturday morning.

“The track was hard,” Plesa said. “We’re going to try tomorrow and see what happens.”

Plesa said he could work Itsmyluckyday as late as Monday. If weather doesn’t permit it, Plesa said the son of Lawyer Ron wouldn’t need to work to be ready for the Preakness. Yet, he would prefer to give his Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner a breeze.

“I don’t know that he needs to work, to be honest with you, but he’s feeling so darn good. I feel it would help him. Sometimes they can have too much energy,” said Plesa, whose colt finished a disappointing 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

 

NORMANDY INVASION – Fox Hill Farms’ Normandy Invasion galloped at Belmont Park Saturday morning. Trainer Chad Brown reported that no firm decision has been made concerning his fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher’s status for next Saturday’s Preakness.

 

OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, whose first venture to the Preakness in 1980 with Codex resulted in a victory, had his three candidates for Preakness 138 on the track early at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.

Sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Oxbow was the first out of the group, galloping over a muddy track under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo. Will Take Charge, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped under Taylor Carty in the second set along with Titletown Five, who was partnered by Quevedo.

Lukas said that Oxbow is scheduled to work Monday and added, “I may let the other two go through the stretch” before vanning to Baltimore early Tuesday morning. Two-time Preakness-winning rider Gary Stevens, who rode Oxbow in the Kentucky Derby and who has the Preakness mount, is expected to be aboard for the work.

 

STREET SPICE – Trainer Greg Geier said Saturday that James Tafel’s homebred colt will not run in the Preakness. Geier breezed Street Spice five furlongs at Arlington Park Saturday morning before finalizing his decision to skip the Preakness with the fifth-place finisher in the Illinois Derby (G3).

“He worked good this morning, but we’re going to stay here and look for something else,” Geier said. “He worked in 1:01 and came back very good. He’s still like a big kid and still learning. I walked with Mr. Tafel and he said until the colt gets a little smarter, we’ll just play it by ear and go from there.”

 

VYJACK – Trainer Rudy Rodriquez said Saturday said that he and owner David Wilkenfeld are still considering whether to run the Into Mischief gelding in the Preakness.

“We’re going to wait until the last minute,” Rodriguez said. “It may be as late as Wednesday before they take entries. We’ll take a look, see what’s going on and then make a final decision.”

Rodriguez said Vyjack is doing well at Aqueduct following his 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and isn’t likely to work between races.

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