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Analysis & Selections for the 3rd Leg of Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes and Closing Day at Pimlico

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Analysis & Selections for the 3rd Leg of Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes and Closing Day at Pimlico

Posted on 07 June 2013 by Gary Quill


Drawing courtesy of Mel @dailyracefunies. To see more of Mel’s work, click here.

On paper, the Saturday’s 145th running of the Belmont Stakes shapes up to be a great betting race, which isn’t a bad consolation since the luster of the race was tarnished by Orb’s loss to oxbow in the Preakness. There are fourteen (14) 3 year olds scheduled to break from the starting gate at Belmont on Saturday, for the $1 million 1½ mile classic, Post Time is 6:36pm EDT. NBC-TV will have “live” coverage from 5pm-7pm.

The weather forecast for the New York metropolitan area, location of Belmont Race Course, is “iffy”. The rain that fell all day on Friday may be gone by Saturday morning. MOstly cloduy skies and winds of 10-15 mph won’t be enough to dry out the track. So look for the track condition to be MUDDY.

Here’s how I see the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish. Morning Line Odds are shown in comparison to the Early Betting Odds only from NYRA tracks, Fort Erie in Canada and Twinspires.com, which was only $39,552 in the WIN pool.

1st – Winstar silks #9 – Revolutionary
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Javier Castellano
Running Style: Closer
He was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby, but could only manage a 3rd place finish, while running on at the end. Skipping the Preakness was a wise move for this lightly raced son of War Pass. His granddaddy (A.P. Indy) on his Mom’s side won this race and there’s enough early speed in here to provide an honest pace to run at in deep stretch.
Early Betting Odds : 5-2 compared to Morning Line Odds: 9-2

2nd – Horton silks #10 – Will Take Charge
Trainer / Jockey: D. Wayne Lukas / Jon Court
Running Style: Tactical Speed
One of three colts who will have run in all 3 Triple Crown races (Orb and Oxbow are the other two), he was sort of a Wise-Guy horse in the Preakness after his strong run into the Churchill Downs stretch was abruptly stopped when Verrazano swerved in front of him. Unfortunately for his backers in the Preakness, he never fired, finishing 7th but during during Preakness week he wasn’t “on his toes” in the A.M. as he was during Derby week. Based on video from Belmont Park workouts, he looks “fit as a fiddle” again. Therefore, at a price he’s a must use in my exotics.
Early Betting Odds : 23-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

3rd – Dogwood silks #12 – Palace Malice
Trainer / Jockey : Todd Pletcher / Mike Smith
Running Style: Stalker
His Daddy (Curlin) lost the 2007 Belmont Stakesby a head, so there’s no question this colt can get the 12 furlongs. Mike Smith retains the mount after a less than stellar ride in the Derby, but the addition of blinkers likely caused Palace Malice to be way too aggressive and uncharacteristically go to the lead. The blinkers come off which should translate into a more relaxed run with a nice stalking trip.
Early Betting Odds : 10-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

4th – Repole silks #3 – Overanalyze
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Has the same sire (Dixie Union) as last years’ Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags. So one would the distance should not be a question. Trainer Pletcher has 4 others in here but his #1 jock rides this one. If you believe in patterns, then look at Overanalyze’s past performances. He wins then loses, wins, loses He lost his last race.
Early Betting Odds : 11-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 12-1

5th – Janney silks #5 – Orb
Trainer / Jockey: Shug McGaughey / Joel Rosario
Running Style: Mid-Pack
The Derby winner was prematurely anointed a strong choice to be the first Triple Crown winner in 35 years, but it wasn’t to be as he was a distant 4th in the Preakness Stakes. So what makes him so special to be the favorite here? I’m thinking he may have peaked on the first Saturday of May and could be a tired horse.
Early Betting Odds: 5-2 compared to Morning Line Odds: 3-1

6th – Repole silks #13 – Unlimited Budget
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Rosie Napravnik
Running Style: Tactical Speed
The only filly in the field will try to become just the 4th filly in 145 runnings of the Belmont Stakes to enter the Winners’ Circle. She has the bloodlines and an impressive resume’ (4 wins in 5 career races; 3 in graded stakes). In an effort to compare her against her male counterparts, we can look to her Feb. 23rd race at Fairgrounds. A winning effort but her time was 4/5th of a second slower than the winner of the Risen Star, run 50 minutes after her victory. Neither the winner(I’ve Struck a Nerve) nor runner-up (Code West) are in here, but Palace Malice ran 3rd just a half length behind the winner.
Early Betting Odds : 12-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 8-1

7th – Calumet silks #7 – Oxbow
Trainer / Jockey: D. Wayne Lukas / Gary Stevens
Running Style: Speed
 Winner of the Preakness in gate-to-wire fashion, many believe he got away with a slow pace and put his competition to sleep. That won’t happen in this race as at least 3 others (Freedom Child, Giant Finish, Midnight Taboo and possibly Frac Daddy) will keep him company throughout the early stages. I see a carbon copy of his Derby run where he had the lead entering the stretch but didn’t have the stamina to seal the deal.
Early Betting Odds : 16-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 5-1

8th – Fipke silks #14 – Golden Soul
Trainer / Jockey: Dallas Stewart / Robby Albarado
Running Style: Closer
After his second place finish in the Derby at 34-1, it seems that all the experts have now discovered this hard-knocking colt who just keeps running, but only has beaten maidens in his 6 race career. Add the fact no horse has won the Belmont Stakes from the 14th post in at least 105 years.
Early Betting Odds : 16-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 10-1

9th – West Pt silks #2 – Freedom Child
Trainer / Jockey: Thomas Albertrani / Luis Saez
Running Style: Speed
Romped by 13+ lengths in slop in the G2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont in most recent outing. One problem. He did it alone on the lead, dictating the pace. That won’t happen in this race. Though he only lost to Orb by 2 and finished ahead of Revolutionary by 2¼ in the same maiden race at Aqueduct in November, he’s likely to be a pace victim.
Early Betting Odds : 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 8-1

10th – Magic City silks #1 – Frac Daddy Trainer / Jockey: Kenneth McPeek / Alan Garcia
Running Style: Tactical Speed
A quarter crack derailed his Derby Trail but still ran for the roses (16th). Been training lights out at CD since, but upon arriving in the Big Apple, he walked (1:04.60) through 5 furlongs in his final tune-up. Word has it he’ll gun from the #1 post, joining early speed. Looking for a glimmer of hope? In his career debut, he ran a nice second going a mile on a muddy Belmont surface.
Early Betting Odds : 23-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

11th – Godolphin silks #6 – Incognito
Trainer / Jockey : Kiaran McLaughlin / Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Running Style: Tactical Speed
It’s hard to believe the number of experts picking this one to pull a huge upset. I don’t see it. Other than having the pedigree to “run all day”, he lacks the seasoning. Making his seventh career start, took four tries to break his maiden, then followed that up with a win by a nose in a $25k Optional Claimer for N1X. Throw in the fact he’ll carry 10 more lbs. than he did in his last race, which is 6 more than he has ever carried. Early Betting Odds : 19-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

12th – Pick Six silks #11 – Vyjack
Trainer / Jockey: Rudy Rodriguez / Julien Leparoux
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Went from an undefeated, potential Derby favorite heading into the Wood Memorial, to an afterthought for the Belmont Stakes. An 18th place finish by 52 lengths will do that to a horse, but is he really all that bad? From the looks of his recent workout (5f in 59 flat) over “Big Sandy” (aka Belmont), on paper is impressive but he was ridden hard in order to get that time. Derby jock Garrett Gomez opted for a bigger longshot in here (Midnight Taboo) rather than stick with this guy.
Early Betting Odds : 31-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

13th – Sunrise silks #4 – Giant Finish
Trainer / Jockey: Anthony Dutrow / Edgar Prado
Running Style: Speed
He’s a NY-bred who does his best within that company and/or on synthetic surface tracks. Ran in the Kentucky Derby without embarrassing himself (10th by 13¼) but never threatened, simply ran a “even” race. Expect Prado to get him up close early in order to have a fighting chance, but the distance will be too much for him.
Early Betting Odds : 34-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

14th – Repole silks #8 – Midnight Taboo
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Garrett Gomez
Running Style: Speed
He’s basically just starting his career with only 3 career races, is overmatched and is only runner in here that has never faced graded stakes company. The owner also has Overanalyze and Unlimited Budget. Both of those will need a quick pace to run at, so Midnight Taboo appears to be the sacrificial lamb.
Early Betting Odds : 37-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

Based on my analysis of the Belmont Stakes, I’ll play…

$10 WIN, PLACE, SHOW on #9 (Revolutionary) – Cost $30

$1 EXACTA BOX on #3 (Overanalyze) #9 (Revolutionary) #10 (Will Take Charge) #12 (Palace Malice) – Cost $12

$1 TRIFECTA PART-WHEEL 3, 5, 9, 10 w/ 3, 5, 9, 10 w/ 12 (Palace Malice) in 3rd spot – Cost $12

Selections for Pimlico’s Closing Day, Saturday, June 8th card  are on Page 2.

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Derby winner Orb installed as Belmont favorite over Oxbow

Posted on 05 June 2013 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — Back home again, Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.

Orb was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, and trainer Shug McGaughey is confident his colt can bounce back from his fourth-place finish behind Oxbow in the Preakness.

“He’s been here for three weeks, and I think it has to be a help not only mentally but being familiar with the footing as well,” McGaughey said. “He’s done well here and trained well here. … I’m going to strike a line through the Preakness. It wasn’t his day. It was (trainer) Wayne Lukas and Oxbow and Gary Stevens’ day. We’re going to regroup and hopefully you’ll see the right horse here on Saturday.”

Orb drew the No. 5 post Wednesday, with Oxbow two gates over in No. 7. Revolutionary, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s record five entries, is the second choice at 9-2. Oxbow is next at 5-1.

“I think Shug has established his horse as the favorite today, and that’s right,” said Lukas, who has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, including the Belmont four times. “But I think he knows he has to take care of business in getting us out of the way, too.”

The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the largest since 1996, when Lukas won the race with Editor’s Note.

“It’s a great advantage to be on your home court, where you train your horses,” said Lukas, who used to have a Belmont-based stable. “They don’t have to ship in and get settled, and then get over the surface. They’ve already been doing that.”

Orb, under Joel Rosario, navigated his way past 16 rivals in the final half mile of the Derby to win by 2 1/2 lengths. In the Preakness, Orb was unable to find running room outside after breaking from the rail, and Oxbow led wire-to-wire under Gary Stevens.

McGaughey is well-versed in what it takes to deal with the Belmont – one long trip around the spacious oval.

“The jockey is really going to have to read the race – it’s what separates the top riders from some of those that aren’t,” said McGaughey, who won the Belmont with Easy Goer in 1989 and spoiled Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown try. “If you turn down the backside at Belmont, it’s not like turning down the backside at Churchill Downs, or Pimlico or the Fair Grounds.

“You’ve got a long way to go, and big open space through there, and you better be patient. If you’re not, it’s going to get to you.”

Orb comes into the race with five wins in nine starts for owners Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Stuart Janney III, while Oxbow’s Preakness win was just his third win in 11 starts for Calumet Farm.

Pletcher is looking for his second Belmont win. He won it in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, and Unlimited Budget could make him 2-for-2 with his Belmont fillies if Rosie Napravnik can pull off the upset and become the second female rider to win a Triple Crown race (Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont with Colonial Affair).

“She’s a big, strong, talented filly. From a physical standpoint, she is going to match up well,” Pletcher said. “My biggest concern is the mile-and-a-half, with her not as strongly bred as Rags to Riches. But she’s trained very well.”

Pletcher will also send out Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Midnight Taboo. Mike Repole owns Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo.

Unlimited Budget, who won her first four starts before running third in the Kentucky Oaks, and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child are co-fourth choices at 8-1.

The last Derby-Belmont winner was Thunder Gulch in 1995, and the last Preakness-Belmont winner was Afleet Alex in 2005. The last rematch of the Derby and Preakness winners was in 2011, when Preakness winner Shackleford ran fifth and Derby winner Animal Kingdom sixth behind Ruler On Ice.

The field from the rail out is Frac Daddy (Alan Garcia, 30-1), Freedom Child (Luis Saez, 8-1), Overanalyze (John Velazquez, 12-1), Giant Finish (Edgar Prado, 30-1), Orb (Joel Rosario, 3-1), Incognito (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1), Oxbow (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Midnight Taboo (Garrett Gomez, 30-1), Revolutionary (Javier Castellano, 9-2), Will Take Charge (Jon Court, 20-1), Vyjack (Julien Leparoux, 20-1), Palace Malice (Mike Smith, 15-1), Unlimited Budget (Rosie Napravnik, 8-1), and Golden Soul (Robby Albarado, 10-1).

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/06/05/2626001/derby-winner-orb-3-1-favorite.html#storylink=cpy

 

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Preakness 138: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Preakness 138: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted on 23 May 2013 by Gary Quill

Preakness Funnie with Crab
Drawing courtesy of Mel @dailyracefunies. To see more of Mel’s work, click here.

The Good:

The Preakness is back! The fourth largest crowd (117,203) in Preakness history discounted the possibility of rain showers in return for the best entertainment value of the year. Fans from the Grandstand rushed the Infield when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took to the stage early afternoon. And that was just for starters as Pitbull brought energy to the Infield would have blown the roof off, if there was one that covered Pimlico.

NBC reported their Preakness show garnered a 5.4 rating and 14 share. That represented a 6% increase from year-ago.

The Bad:

Kentucky Derby winner Orb, sent off as the prohibitive 3-5 favorite finished a disappointing 4th, to extend the Triple Crown drought another year.

Maserati’s decision to sponsor Orb for an undisclosed amount of money. Not only was riding the wave of the potential Triple Crown winner a short one, but Orb may pass on the next nationally televised horse race, the Belmont Stakes on June 8th.

The Ugly:

GQ’s selections. Only hitting 2 Top Picks on the 13-race card, both of those paid less than even money. After providing the winner in each of the first 3 races, misfired on the next 4 then finished up the last 6 races naming 4 winners, including Preakness winner Oxbow ($32.80) but failed to connect on the Exacta, which could have turned the “ugly” betting day into a “salvageable” one.

Horse players complaining about how the Pimlico dirt surface looked like crap and that the times were slow due to track maintenance dumping excess water on it on a rainy day. Hmmm, maybe they should just re-examine their own handicapping skills?

 

Best Preakness Quote: “I get paid to spoil dreams.” – D. Wayne Lukas, during press conference after his 15-1 longshot Oxbow won the Preakness Stakes.

Best Line Overheard : “A car you will never own.” – a Dad to his young daughter who asked “What’s a Maserati?” upon seeing Orb sporting his new saddlecloth.

 

If Oxbow’s win in the Preakness left you scratching your head asking, “How does a 15-1 longshot manage to win… so easily?” Click here for MY answer.

 

Frankie Lovato’s JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day is #144… “Handicapper

Recapping Pimlico’s Preakness Day selections 13-race card were quite pathetic, only posting 7 winners (2 Top Selections in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $5.40 (1st race), $3.40 (2nd), $7.40 (3rd), $5.20 (8th), $6.60 (10th), $32.80 (12th) and $2.60 (13th).

The BEST BET (26 10-4-3) Marataya’s Tune (R5 #14 5-2 PT; 9-2 M/L) appeared to be “lone speed” in here, and apparently I wasn’t the only one that noticed as she went off the 5-2 betting choice. Even though she cruised on the front end by herself, the fractions she set were not soft enough to carry her gate to wire, as she yielded to two foes in mid-stretch, returning $3.60 to SHOW.

The LONGSHOT PICK (26 5-1-2) Embarr (R9 #6 12-1 PT; 15-1 M/L) was never involved in this contest. No other description is needed beyond the single word that sums up a poor performance, “Outrun”. For the record she finished 6th.

Selections for Pimlico’s Friday, May 24th card will be on Page 2.

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can’t say enough about Preakness infield transformation

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can’t say enough about Preakness infield transformation

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

Four years ago, I described the first ever Preakness “Infieldfest” event as a “miserable failure” in a column here at WNST.net.

It was a terrible event in 2009, as many former attendees chose to boycott the event after the Maryland Jockey Club boldly announced they would ban the longtime tradition of allowing fans to bring their own beer to the Infield to revel. Attendance dipped well below 100,000 for the day, as the infield area was practically barren and few were compelled to come see musical acts like ZZ Top, Buckcherry and Charm City Devils.

We love a good sports redemption story, don’t we?

It’s with that in mind that Preakness has officially surpassed Josh Hamilton as the best redemption story of the millennium. And not because Preakness is capable of hitting home runs in September, either.

The 2013 version of Preakness was absolutely fantastic Saturday at Pimlico, despite the weather not being fully cooperative. The event was festive, energetic, fun and most importantly an outstanding representation of Baltimore on a national scale. Now seeing what the Preakness has become, it’s hard to imagine the event was ever the embarrassing, dangerous frat party it was known as throughout the country in the 90′s and much of the early 2000′s.

Perhaps the most amazing part of what the Maryland Jockey Club has accomplished with their transformation of Preakness is that they managed to keep the already existing positive aspects of the event and actually improve them in the process of gutting the most seedy parts of the event. (Combined with the fact that that they’ve done it without the type of support from their ownership (The Stronach Group) that would allow for major infrastructure changes, whether they be to the facility or to the year-long pedestal the sport of horse racing can be placed on within the state of Maryland.)

I did my best to visit every part of Pimlico Saturday, from the barns to the corporate village to the clubhouse to the grandstand to the press box to the turn to the infield and even to the Sports Palace (admittedly they thought twice before letting me in there). I was blown away with the number of stories people would tell me about how they had made a trip to the infield during the course of the day.

There was the Cockeysville girl (Nikki) in her late 20′s who was sitting in her family’s box on the turn who told me she took a break from the all you can drink area to see Florida Georgia Line because she is a big country music fan.

There was the mid-30′s man from Towson (AJ) whose friends had seats in the grandstand but wandered out to the infield with his college buddies to see Chevelle. He told me he didn’t even really mind having to pay for beer because it was still cheaper ($4) than most events.

There was the 40-something sales exec from Pikesville (Dustin) I bumped into during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ main stage set. He was with a group that had a tent in the corporate village but told me it was nice to have the option to visit both spots.

There were the many Baltimore Ravens players (namely Torrey Smith, Arthur Jones, Justin Tucker, Michael Oher, Kelechi Osemele and Jameel McClain) who ventured seemingly everywhere around the track that I caught hanging around the stage as Pitbull was playing to a massive throng. I seemed to bump into these guys just about everywhere I went, including the huge Under Armour pavilion on the infield.

A neat thing about this entire group? They all talked to me at least a bit about horse racing. Whether they were asking me if I bought into Orb, trying to talk up another horse or even talking to me about some of the other races they had bet on during the course of the day, there was real horse racing conversation.

The Preakness infield has gone from the frightening spot where you would fear seeing your high school daughter end up to the must-attend place to be every May. It’s gone from the place where frat boy types up and down the east coast would descend simply because they knew the rules would allow for them to be a-holes to the place where young people from the Charm City region celebrate a rite of passage in the spring.

It’s not as if Infieldfest is without flaws, as the amount of alcohol consumed on the infield still allows from a few bad people to do questionable things. But it isn’t what Preakness once was. “The Running of the Urinals” is far gone and “the run to get tickets because we have to be there” is now very real. Just ask anyone who realized they missed their chance to join “The Mug Club” in the last couple of weeks.

I hope the MJC remains invested in upgrading Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico as well. I talk regularly about how special Kentucky Oaks day is in Louisville, and I believe there’s the possibility for the same to happen in Charm City. The partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the addition of live music (the Goo Goo Dolls helped bring a crowd of nearly 40,000 to Pimlico Friday) have been real upgrades, but more can still be done in the coming years by both the MJC and by the city of Baltimore to embrace the full weekend event.

I can’t say enough about how one bold decision made by Tom Chuckas and the Maryland Jockey Club ultimately reversed the course of Preakness forever. I criticized them in 2009. I was wrong. It took time, but what’s happened over the course of the last few years has been spectacular.

I can’t even imagine what the event is capable of becoming if Frank Stronach’s recent claims of major future investments in the track are truthful. I’ll admit skepticism, but I was also the guy that was more than skeptical of Infieldfest in 2009.

I was ultimately very wrong. I hope to be again.

-G

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Preakness winner Oxbow headed to Belmont Stakes

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

PREAKNESS WINNER OXBOW CONFIRMED FOR BELMONT STAKES

ORB ‘FINE’ AFTER DULL TRY;  ITSMYLUCKYDAY MAKES GRADE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-19-13 – Back in the 1980’s and ‘90s when trainer D. Wayne Lukas was winning Triple Crown races with astonishing regularity, the catch-phrase “D. Wayne off the plane” followed him from track to track as he made his hit-and-run assaults on racetracks across America with a lineup of assistants that included Todd Pletcher, Mark Hennig, Kiaran McLaughlin and Dallas Stewart.

The glory days of Lukas had seemingly subsided in the new millennium with the passing of wealthy clients like Eugene Klein, W. T. Young and Bob Lewis. In recent years, Lukas had geared down his operation and had become more of a fringe player on racing’s biggest stage.

That all changed Saturday when the 77-year-old Hall of Famer saddled his record-14th Triple Crown race winner, Oxbow, for the 138th Preakness for legendary Calumet Farm, which had similarly faded from the forefront of major thoroughbred racing,

It was the first spring classic winner for Lukas since Commendable took the Belmont Stakes in 2000, and the Preakness score by Oxbow ended a drought in the classics for Calumet dating all the way back to Forward Pass’s victory in the 1968 Preakness.

Lukas and his nine-horse contingent, that also included Dixie upsetter Skyring and his personal pony, were on the highway before dawn Sunday morning, heading back to their home base at Churchill Downs. Then it’s on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks with Oxbow and possibly seventh-place finisher Will Take Charge. Titletown Five, Lukas’ third Preakness entrant who finished last, will run in shorter races for the rest of his 3-year-old campaign.

“I’ve always rode with the horses all my career,” said Lukas, who now has six Preakness winners, one behind Robert Walden for the all-time record in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. “I used to go on the airplanes and stand there with them all the time. We don’t fly much anymore.”

He’s “the man on the van” these days, having ridden in a pickup truck for more than 12 hours to Pimlico on Tuesday and scheduled to follow the same routine back home Sunday.

“I’ll get him home at feeding time just about,” Lukas said. “By the time I get him home and give him a bath it’ll be right about 5 o’clock. They put a bucket seat where I ride on kind of an air-ride slide thing. It’s like riding in a boat somewhere on the waves.”

This Preakness was a serious helping of history for the connections of the winner. In addition to Lukas and Calumet, jockey Gary Stevens capped an unlikely comeback at age 50 by winning his third Preakness (Silver Charm and Point Given).

Last year at this time, Stevens was working in Baltimore as a TV analyst for NBC and HRTV. Lukas said all week he was thrilled to have the Hall of Famer aboard Oxbow and was encouraged by his Derby performance.

“He’s so on top of all this stuff,” Lukas said. “He’ll tell you the fractions, who was laying fourth on the backside and everything. He’s very into this, very into this.”

Oxbow, a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, is Lukas’ first Preakness winner since Charismatic in 1999. His other Preakness winners were Timber Country (1995), Tabasco Cat (1994), Tank’s Prospect (1985) and Codex in 1980.

Over those glory days, there was a sometimes not-so-friendly rivalry with colleague Bob Baffert, who saddled Govenor Charlie to a disappointing eighth-place finish Saturday. It was Baffert’s 14th Preakness starter (five winners), well behind Lukas’ record total of 40.

“Over the years a lot of people thought that Baffert and I had a rivalry, when actually we come from pretty similar backgrounds and we’re pretty good friends,” Lukas said. “It was really significant yesterday when he came down and congratulated me right after the race. A mutual friend of ours said that when his horse didn’t look like he was getting it done at the half-mile pole, Bob and a friend were jumping up and down and saying: ‘Go get ‘em, Lukey.’ “

Lukas said almost immediately after the Preakness that he hoped to try Oxbow in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes.

“I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome,” Lukas said. “Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can’t check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward.”

 

ORB – Kentucky Derby hero Orb boarded a van bound for New York at 7 o’clock Sunday morning, showing no ill effects from Saturday’s disappointing fourth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He came out of it fine. He’s sound. Physically, everything is fine,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We’ll get him up the road and evaluate the situation to see where we’ll go.”

McGaughey didn’t have a concrete explanation for Orb’s surprisingly dull performance as the 3-5 favorite that followed a sharp, dominating 2 ½-length victory two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs.

“The racetrack was probably deep down the inside there. There was a lot of throwback. We couldn’t get to the outside. I thought he was in good position and he took him to the right position, and all of a sudden he had no horse. Why that was, I don’t know,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I think it wasn’t our day and it was Oxbow’s day.”

Saturday’s disappointment in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown only made McGaughey appreciate the Derby victory even more.

“Winning the Derby was my lifelong dream. We won it. I would have loved to win (Saturday) to take it to the next level, so I do appreciate how tough it is,” McGaughey said. “If I have the opportunity again (to compete in the Derby), I may cherish it even more, because I’ve seen how tough it is to get it done. Maybe, I do appreciate how tough it is to win more. As brilliant as we were two weeks ago, we weren’t as brilliant yesterday.”

McGaughey will monitor Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s homebred colt’s training at Belmont Park before deciding his status for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8.

“I want to see him bounce back and see his soundness level and his energy level,” he said. “I think there are a lot of good wins down the road for him.”

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday looked bright Sunday morning, earning high marks from trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for the manner in which he exited his second-place finish behind Oxbow in Saturday’s Preakness.

“On a 1-to-10 scale, 10-plus,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th over the sloppy Churchill Downs track in the Kentucky Derby, rebounded with a strong showing at Pimlico. The son of Lawyer Ron, who was forwardly placed in fourth as Oxbow set a comfortable pace along the backstretch, kicked in through the stretch but could get no closer than 1 ¾ lengths of D. Wayne Lukas’ sixth Preakness winner.

“I wouldn’t take anything away from Wayne’s horse, but they went the half in 48-and-change. That’s pretty much walking. Did that help his horse? Absolutely. Did it hurt my horse? Absolutely,” Plesa said. “I won’t say anything other than: ‘I wish the pace would have been quicker.’”

Plesa said Itsmyluckyday’s dismal Derby showing did nothing to undermine his confidence in his colt’s abilities, but he was happy that the Florida-bred got a chance to prove his critics wrong.

“Everybody was throwing him out because he couldn’t get the distance and he ran a lousy race. I hate to use slop as an excuse, but it was a valid excuse. We all knew that,” Plesa said. “Not for us, but for other people, it validates his ability.

That’s not a bad thing. They’re like your children. You don’t like to read something bad about your children. We know what we have. He’s an exceptional horse; there’s no doubt about it.”

A start in the Belmont Stakes is far from a definite for the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner.

“It’s 50-50 at best,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who was scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Sunday, is a far more definite candidate to run in the Haskell Invitational at the New Jersey track on July 28.

“The Haskell is on my list. God willing, that’s a certainty,” Plesa said.

 

MYLUTE - Fourteen hours after his colt finished third in the Preakness, trainer Tom Amoss said Sunday that he was even more impressed with the performance than he was Saturday.

“Upon reflection, I think my horse ran the best race of his career,” Amoss said. “The slow pace was impossible for us to overcome and yet he still ran a very good race. I don’t know where the rest of the speed went in yesterday’s Preakness. It looked like there was quite a bit on paper, but it just didn’t materialize.”

Amoss said the son of Midnight Lute owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm has earned a little bit of time off.

“As far as future plans, nothing is on the board right now,” he said. “I’ll get together with the owners at the beginning of the week and we’ll discuss what to do. He’s had two races close together and I think that’s going to be taken into account when we have that conversation.”

And Amoss saluted the winning trainer and jockey combination of Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens. Lukas, 77, won his record 14th Triple Crown race and Stevens, 50, earned his third Preakness just a few months after ending a seven-year retirement.

“It was a masterful job,” Amoss said. “As far as Wayne is concerned, you’ve got to tip your hat to him. Over the last year he’s made a remarkable comeback and put himself where he used to be, which is at the top of the trainers’ charts.”

 

GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill and his fifth-place Preakness finisher Goldencents will not be going on to Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes as originally planned. Team O’Neill and the colt departed early Sunday morning to return to Southern California.

“It doesn’t make sense to go on to the Belmont,” O’Neill said. “We had talked prior (to the Preakness) that if we didn’t run huge and came out of it great, we wouldn’t come back in three weeks. Even though I’m very proud of him and the way Kevin (Krigger) rode him, I just don’t think coming back in three weeks off that effort is the right move.”

Last year, O’Neill left Pimlico looking for a sweep to the Triple Crown with I’ll Have Another, who had followed up his Kentucky Derby win with a score in the Preakness. He would never get the opportunity when the son of Flower Alley came down with a leg injury that forced him to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes.

Goldencents, a three-time stakes winner going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, was a dismal 17th at Churchill Downs, but O’Neill believed the sloppy, sealed race track was largely responsible for that. He admitted the son of Into Mischief simply couldn’t keep up with Preakness winner Oxbow after briefly heading him coming out of the gate on Saturday.

“We’ll relax and see what’s in the cards five, six, seven weeks down the road,” O’Neill said. “You’ve got the 3-year-old series on the turf down at Del Mar, so we could possibly try a different surface with him.

“Or we could go over him good, train him out there and then look for races like the Haskell or Travers somewhere down the road. We’ll huddle up with the owners and put together a game plan. He’s a good horse. You’ll be hearing from him.”

 

DEPARTING - Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s War Front gelding was shipped back to Kentucky Sunday morning following his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He’s fine, but he cooled out very tired,” trainer Al Stall said.

Stall said he had not talked with the owners about future plans for Departing, but that he would not be participating in the Belmont Stakes.

 

GOVENOR CHARLIE - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported Sunday that the eighth-place finisher came out of the race in good shape and was being shipped back to California with stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, the winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

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117,203 pack Pimlico for historic Preakness day

Posted on 18 May 2013 by WNST Staff

OXBOW PUTS MAKES HISTORY FOR CONNECTIONS IN PREAKNESS VICTORY

KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER ORB DISAPPOINTS AS ODDS-ON FAVORITE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-18-13 – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas made history at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday when he saddled Oxbow for a front-running upset victory in the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1). The 15-1 long shot gave his 77-year-old trainer his sixth Preakness victory, as well as his 14th triumph in a Triple Crown event.

Lukas, who had been tied with legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons since saddling Commendable for a Belmont Stakes victory in 2000, became the winningest trainer in Triple Crown history.

Overlooked by the bettors, who made Kentucky Derby winner Orb their 3-5 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds, Oxbow was in control throughout the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown on his way to victory by 1 ¾ lengths under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.

Shug McGaughey-trained Orb, who finished 9 ¾ lengths ahead of Oxbow while winning the Derby by 3 ½ lengths, was never a factor in the Preakness, finishing nine lengths behind the winner, who was one of three 3-year-olds representing Lukas.

A crowd of 117,203 flocked into Pimlico, the fourth highest mark in the history of the event. The day included the fifth annual InfieldFest which featured concerts by six bands, including headliners Pitbull and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The 13-race card generated an all-sources handle of $81,940,233. The handle ranked as the sixth best for Pimlico’s signature day.

“It was a fantastic day to cap what was a wonderful weekend of racing and entertainment,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “I challenged my team to match last year’s record-setting afternoon and they answered the call. The initial feedback on the concerts is positive and the racing office put together a quality card from bottom to top.”

Oxbow, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, joined the Lukas-trained Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999) as a Preakness champion.

Oxbow’s triumph also created history for Stevens, who became the oldest jockey, at 50, to ride a Preakness winner. Eldon Nelson was 45 when he rode Bee Bee Bee to an upset win in 1972.

The Lukas-trained winner, who ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.54, also made more history for his owner, Calumet Farm, which celebrated its record eighth Preakness success and first since Forward Pass’s victory in 1968.

Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, finished second Saturday while tracking the pace early and steadily gaining on Oxbow in the stretch before running out of ground. Mylute, the fifth-place Derby finisher, closed from last to finish third, another half-length back under Rosie Napravnik, who rode the first winner of her career at Pimlico in June 2005 as a 17-year-old.

Orb, the shortest-priced Preakness favorite since Big Brown (2008), finished a half-length ahead of Goldencents, who was saddled by Doug O’Neill, who visited the winners’ circle last year with I’ll Have Another.  He was followed by Departing, Will Take Charge, Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five. Will Take Charge and Titletown Five are also trained by Lukas, who has been represented by a record 40 Preakness starters.

PREAKNESS STAKES QUOTES

D. Wayne Lukas (trainer, Oxbow, winner) – “What a story this is. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and I’m just so happy for Mr. (Brad) Kelley. He’s trying to revitalize Calumet, and now Calumet is back in a Classic race. That’s just very gratifying.  It’s been a while (Charismatic, 1999), but it never gets old. I have great respect for the Phipps family and Shug (McGaughey), but I was telling one of your colleagues that I get paid to spoil dreams.

“You can’t mail them in, so we keep trying. It’s a different surface, a different scenario and a different time. You gotta line ‘em up  and run ‘em.

“Gary knows the horse a lot better than I do, so I told him to just go ahead and ride  him. I told him ‘you might find yourself up there; if you do just get in a high cruising speed, and it worked.’   It doesn’t hurt to have a Hall of Famer or two (Stevens and Mike Smith) on your horses. I had good riders and I knew my horses trained well. When they threw up that 48 (half mile) and 1:13 (six furlongs), I said watch out. Unbelievable!

“I kind of lost track of my other two horses (Titletown Five and Will Take Charge) because this guy was in front almost the whole way.”

 

Gary Stevens (jockey, Oxbow, winner) – “We talked about strategy and I didn’t expect to be on the lead. In these Classic races you don’t give up anything you get for free. They gave me a free three-quarters of a mile today. I was smiling pretty good midway down the backside. I actually thought about Wayne (Lukas) up in the grandstand. I knew he would be looking at those fractions and be pleased with what he was seeing.”

“I jumped on him at the quarter pole and said, “let’s go now and just try and last.’ We did more than last today. When we pulled up he wasn’t a tired horse.”

 

Eddie Plesa Jr. (trainer, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “I’m very pleased with the way he ran. He ran his race. He simply just got beat by a horse that was trained perfectly by Wayne Lukas. We did run our race, but we just weren’t lucky enough to win.”

 

John Velazquez (jockey, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “My horse ran awesome. The speed didn’t develop the way I thought it would. I thought Oxbow would be third or fourth, then all of a sudden I look up and Bob Baffert’s horse (Govenor Charlie) gets left and Oxbow was on the lead all by himself. I worried then about my horse, but he ran great.”

 

Tom Amoss (trainer, Mylute, 3rd) – “My horse ran great. The pace was a disappointment up front. I thought there would be more speed; it didn’t materialize. We were probably at the biggest disadvantage of all, coming from way back and being the widest in the race. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.  I actually look at this like a missed opportunity because my horse ran a big race today.”

 

Rosie Napravnik (jockey, Mylute, 3rd) – “He was very sluggish out of the gate for the first quarter of a mile. Then he got going. This is a tough course. I was too far back to see who the leaders were. This was a tough pace to follow. But he ran great down the lane and closed well.”

 

Shug McGaughey (trainer, Orb, 4th) – “I’m disappointed. It was a great opportunity. We were 3-5 and we finished fourth. I would be disappointed any time you had this kind of opportunity and didn’t get it done. This was quite a run for a couple of weeks. We’ll pack it up and go back home and see what kind of horse we’ve got down the road and  figure it out from there.

“I don’t think two weeks had anything to do with it. Oxbow ran back in two weeks. Itsmyluckyday ran back in two weeks, Mylute ran back in two weeks. I just think he got himself in a position where he wasn’t comfortable and then without the pace scenario in front of him; they really weren’t spread out a little bit more than maybe I’d hoped. That probably affected him more than anything else.

“The pace was slower than I anticipated. I thought the pace would be quicker.  I thought maybe they would speed it up a little bit but they didn’t.  I still thought we would close into it, but it just wasn’t his day. He was just never real comfortable once he got down in there.  I’m  disappointed. I’ll probably be way more disappointed tomorrow but I know the game. It is highs and lows, probably more lows than highs. We had a great run two weeks ago. My hat’s off to Wayne to win his sixth Preakness. That’s pretty remarkable.”

 

Joel Rosario (jockey, Orb, 4th) – “He was in a good spot early in the race. They were going slow up front and he was fine. When I got to the half-mile pole, he had a hard time keeping up. I used my stick to try to get him going. He usually takes you there. He always runs hard. But today he never took off. He just steadied. Today was not his day.”

 

Doug O’Neill (trainer, Goldencents, 5th) – “I’m doing great. I thought Kevin (Krigger) had him in a great spot and when the winner kicked there, we just couldn’t keep up with him. I’m very proud of Kevin and the horse. We’re going to be fine. We’ve got a bright future. Definitely, he belongs among these horses and we’re going to be in good shape. We’ll be OK. I’ll have to talk to (co-owner) Glen (Sorgenstein) and we’ll put our heads together and see what’s next.”

 

Kevin Krigger (jockey, Goldencents, 5th) – “He didn’t run his race today. We were expecting him to run very well here, but it just doesn’t happen sometimes.”

 

Al Stall Jr. (trainer, Departing, 6th) – “He had no excuses. It looked like he got over the track OK. He just didn’t go on with it like he usually does.”

 

Brian Hernandez Jr. (jockey, Departing, 6th) – “I had a great trip. On the second turn, Orb was inside of me and we spurted away from him and got up to third. But he was just a little dull today. I don’t know why. It seemed like he handled the track OK. But it was a little deep.”

 

Mike Smith (jockey, Will Take Charge, 7th) – “He just really struggled with the racetrack. His legs were going everywhere from the word ‘go.’ He just couldn’t get a hold of it at all.”

 

Bob Baffert (trainer, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “If they would have yelled “about-face” I would have won easy at the wire. My horse missed the break and never really was in the race. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and Wayne (Lukas); that’s awesome.”

 

Martin Garcia (jockey, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “He did not like the track at all. He was very uncomfortable all the way around.”

 

Julien Leparoux (jockey, Titletown Five, 9th) – “(Gary) Stevens took the lead early, and I was just kind of sitting there. I felt like I had a lot of horse under me when we turned for home. But he just kind of flattened out in the stretch.”

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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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Baltimore owner Janney visits Orb at Pimlico

Posted on 16 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DERBY HERO ORB TO CARRY MARYLAND PRIDE IN PREAKNESS

AMOSS TENDS TO FAMILY, MYLUTE; DEPARTING SETTLES IN 

BALTIMORE, 05-16-13 – Prominent Marylander Stuart Janney III dropped in on trainer Shug McGaughey at the Preakness Stakes Barn Thursday morning at Pimlico Race Course, closely monitoring the morning activities of his Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, Orb.

“It’s a huge sense of pride. I’ve been out here most mornings before the Preakness for most of my life, so it’s great to bring this horse here,” the Butler, Md. resident and chairman of Bessemer Trust Company said. “I’m proud of him.”

Janney and the Phipps Stable bred and campaign Orb, who captured the Derby by 2 ½ lengths with a 17th-to-first performance. The Janney family and the Phipps family have had a longstanding history in horse ownership and association with McGaughey.

“We’ve been doing this for the last 20 years together. Some they own entirely. Some I own entirely. I think we’d all say that we’re very glad we were together at the Kentucky Derby and lucky enough to win it with a horse that we happened to own together,” Janney said. “I said after the race, ‘Shug was very clever to do that so that he didn’t have one owner that was ecstatic and another owner who was less than ecstatic.’ ”

Orb produced the first Kentucky Derby success for Janney, Phipps and McGaughey.

“It was maybe a feeling of relief that it’s actually happening. I thought we went to Churchill with the best horse. You never know. There are a lot of reasons that the best horse doesn’t always win. Rain was one of them,” Janney said. “But I did feel a huge sense of relief when he crossed the finish line and a great feeling of elation.”

Orb, who has been installed as the even-money favorite for Saturday’s 138 Preakness Stakes (G1), jogged at Pimlico Thursday morning before galloping a mile under exercise rider Jenn Patterson.

“Today I just wanted to see how he was moving and how he got over the racetrack,” McGaughey said. “I’m very pleased with what I saw.”

The Hall of Fame trainer said he didn’t lose any sleep over Orb drawing the No. 1 post position at Wednesday’s draw.

“It doesn’t bother me. The ‘1’ is different here than it is at Churchill. The race starts at the three-sixteenths pole here and it’s a straight shot,” McGaughey said. “We’ll be fine. If I got to pick it out, that wouldn’t have been what I picked, but I’m not worried about it.”

Noting the nine-horse field of the Preakness, McGaughey expressed full confidence in jockey Joel Rosario, who rode Orb to victory against 18 rivals at Churchill Downs.

“I think he’ll get a good spot in the race with the speed outside of him. I think Joel will get him where he wants him to be and we’ll take it from there. That’s all you can do,” McGaughey said. “The same thing in the Derby, I thought he had him in a good place. Before he asked him to run, I began to think, ‘Are you too far back?’ But when he pushed the button, I knew we were going to be a factor. I didn’t know if he would win, but I knew he’d be a factor. I think we’ll see the same thing Saturday.”

McGaughey continues to adhere to the “if it happens, it happens” attitude he maintained during Derby week.

“I think if he goes over and runs his race, I’m quietly confident that he’ll be tough to beat,” McGaughey said. “It’s just like I was at the Derby. I was quietly confident all week that he was going to run his race and if that was good enough, it would be good enough. I feel the same this time.”

Shug McGaughey will be available at 8 a.m. Friday during a press conference to be held adjacent to the Preakness Stakes Barn. Jockey Joel Rosario will follow McGaughey at 8:15 a.m., while Rosie Napravnik will meet with the press at 8:30 a.m. 

 

MYLUTE – Trainer Tom Amoss and the gray colt went in different directions Wednesday in their respective journeys from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course.

Amoss headed south to his home state to attend the graduation of his daughter, Ashley, from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, while the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby was flown from Louisville, Ky., to Baltimore for the Preakness.

The college graduation season and the Triple Crown often produce personal and professional conflicts. For Amoss and Mylute, the schedule of events has worked out nicely.  Amoss will be able to handle all of his commitments and still be at Pimlico in plenty of time to saddle the colt for the 138th Preakness, which has a post time of 6:20 p.m. Saturday.

The 280th LSU commencement will be held Thursday afternoon and Ashley’s diploma ceremony at the Manship School of Mass Communication is on Friday afternoon. The Amoss family will celebrate the graduation Friday evening and Amoss, his wife, Colleen, Ashley and younger daughter, Hayley, will fly from New Orleans to Baltimore-Washington International Airport Saturday morning.

“Although the Preakness is something I’m very proud of in terms of my professional life, nothing makes me prouder on a personal level than my daughter graduating from college,” he said. “That comes first.’’

Todd Quast, the general manager and trainer at GoldMark Farm, which co-owns the colt with Whisper Hill Farm, works closely with Amoss and is at Pimlico with Amoss’ staff.

“Tom ships horses all around,” Quast said. “This is obviously a bigger race than most that you ship off to, but his crew is very comfortable with that.”

Quast said there never was a question about how Amoss would handle the schedule this week.

“Family is first,” he said. “His daughter is graduating from LSU. He graduated from LSU. His wife graduated from LSU. I think he would have been disowned if he wouldn’t have gone.

“And this horse is so relaxed, so easy going, that it was really a non-issue. I told him, ‘Go. We’re fine.’ ”

Quast said that Mylute, runner-up to Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby (G2), was calm throughout the trip from Kentucky and has settled in at Pimlico, the seventh track he will race over in his 11-month career.

“He handled it; didn’t turn a hair,” Quast said. “There were horses that came off a little hotter, a little sweatier. If he did, it would be a big thing because he is so laid back. He is the consummate professional horse. His demeanor off the track is what you would want. He eats, sleeps and nothing bothers him. It’s a perfect type of situation.”

Mylute went to the track with exercise rider Maurice Sanchez at 6 a.m. Thursday to jog a mile and gallop 1 ¼ miles.

“He looked around and said, ‘All right, I’m home.’ ” Quast said. “He handled it very, very well. He’s very seasoned and very relaxed wherever he goes. He handled it super, had good energy, came off the track good and cooled out good.”

Rated second in the morning line at 5-1, Mylute, who drew the No. 5 post position, will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.

 

DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Departing got his first taste of the Pimlico racing surface Thursday morning by galloping 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Trina Pasckvale.

“There were a lot of tents out there in the infield for him to look at and that kept his mind occupied a bit. He has been tough on Trina the past few days,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said.

Departing had flown to Pimlico from Churchill Downs on Wednesday, marking the gelding’s first plane trip.

“We had vanned him to Houston and to Chicago,” Stall said. “He got a little stirred up on the plane, but not in a bad way. He dropped his head when he got here and he was fine. I am glad we shipped yesterday and not Thursday or Friday.”

Departing, who will break from the No. 4 post position under Brian Hernandez Jr. in Saturday’s 138th Preakness, has won four of five starts with the only blemish coming in a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

“He did not have a lot of trouble in the Louisiana Derby,” Stall said. “It is like going from the college game to the pros, except for RG III or Andrew Luck. Everything is a little faster and the holes were moving a little faster than he was.

“In the Illinois Derby, he took Brian where he needed to go. I think the extra ground (a sixteenth of a mile farther than the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby) will help him. There is plenty of gas in the tank.”

Stall said that Departing would go to the track at 6:30 on Friday.

“We only have the one horse to train and the one that runs (Tread in the Miss Preakness on Friday) is going to walk,” Stall said.

 

GOLDENCENTS – W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney and RAP Racing’s Goldencents made his daily trip to the track Thursday morning shortly after 8:30 for yet another smooth mile gallop under regular rider Kevin Krigger.

“He looked great, just comfortable stretching, in control but with good energy,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who will try to become the first trainer to win back-to-back editions of the Preakness since Bob Baffert in 2001 (Point Given) and 2002 (War Emblem). Kevin’s just done a brilliant job with this horse and I really like what we’re seeing. They communicate with you through their energy and the way they eat, and he’s doing super.”

A three-time stakes winner including the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Goldencents drew post 2 and was rated as the 8-1 fourth choice in the field of nine when positions were drawn Wednesday.

“The ‘2’ has won the Preakness numerous times, so we’re hoping to add to that,” said O’Neill, who won with his first starter last year when I’ll Have Another overtook the Baffert-trained Bodemeister in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another never saw his Triple Crown hopes come to fruition when a leg injury forced him to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes.

This year, O’Neill has the chance to play spoiler to Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who has won five in a row after a stirring score in the Kentucky Derby.

“Orb obviously looks like the horse to beat,” the 44-year-old O’Neill said. “He’s not like a one-race hit. All year long he’s been super impressive. Hall of Fame trainer, future Hall of Fame jockey, and he’s looked great here at Pimlico. But we’ve seen Goldencents do some brilliant things in the afternoon. If he does, I think he can beat him.”

Other than Orb, Goldencents has the best credentials of the opposition in the Preakness. He won a stakes race at age 2 (Grade 3 Delta Jackpot) and has won the Sham (G3) and Santa Anita Derby as a sophomore. His dismal 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby may be attributed to the sloppy, sealed track.

A fast track is expected Saturday at Pimlico, with which O’Neill became familiar last year.

“People think of this track as being more of a speed-favoring track than Churchill,” he said. “As long as the horse is doing well and gets a hold of the track, I think he’s got a big chance to knock Orb off.  I would assume with the tighter turns (Goldencents) would be forwardly placed. I think all of us would like a dry track, just so there’s no excuses.”

And while there’s less on the line this year for O’Neill, the Preakness still ranks high on his to-do list.

“Last year off the Derby win, you come in dreaming of the Triple Crown,” he said. “This year we’re dreaming of the double crown. I know it doesn’t get a lot of play, but to have a horse that’s worthy of  being in a Preakness race is an honor and a privilege. I think we’re extremely lucky to have two.”

According to National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame historian Allan Carter, no horse who has finished as far back as 17th in the Kentucky Derby has won the Preakness. Louis Quatorze, who was 16th in the 1996 Derby, had the greatest turnaround in history when he won the Preakness that year for trainer Nick Zito.
GOVENOR CHARLIE – Mike Pegram’s Sunland Derby (G3) winner Govenor Charlie had a routine first morning at Pimlico since shipping from Kentucky Wednesday and went to the track shortly after 6 o’clock Thursday for some exercise.

“He handled the track fine. He galloped a mile to let him get over the track,” said Jimmy Barnes, trainer Bob Baffert’s longtime assistant. “He went over it fine and seemed to like it.”

Baffert, who is scheduled to travel from California to Baltimore on Thursday, waited until he was sure the colt was fully recovered from a minor hoof injury before committing to the Preakness. Govenor Charlie was examined at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., in mid-April after the injury was discovered. He was able to return to training, but Baffert decided that he was not ready for the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

“It was minor, but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing else involved,” Baffert said. “That’s why I sent him to the clinic and they did the scan on him. I wanted to make sure that we weren’t missing something.”

Govenor Charlie has had three timed works since the visit to Rood and Riddle, including a snappy six-furlong breeze in 1:10 4/5 Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

“We’re running because after his last work he’s back to 100 percent,” Baffert said. “I just lost that little time with him, five days of training and an important work. I had to get him right and now he’s 100 percent. The way he worked the other day, it looked like he’s doing well. He’s back to his old self.”

By Tuesday morning, Baffert was willing to say that the colt would go on to the Preakness.

“The main thing is that he came out of the work really well,” Baffert said. “It looks like he’s sitting on a big race. He had to be 100 percent and he had to be training really well. He handled the work really well and didn’t get tired. We’ll find out if he’s good enough.”
ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. is set to saddle Itsmyluckyday for a start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes with full confidence that the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner will fire his best race.

“He’s given me every sign that he’s ready for the war; he’s ready for the race; he’s ready for the battle,” said Plesa, after sending Itsmyluckyday for a gallop around Pimlico’s racetrack Thursday morning. “Let’s just get it on.”

The veteran South Florida-based trainer also knows what his colt will be up against when he clashes with Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Preakness.

“He’s the best 3-year-old in the country, no question about it. He could be Horse of the Year. We could be sitting here in a very short period of time and they could be talking about him as Horse of the Year,” Plesa said. “Orb has been sensational since he turned 3, and he’s absolutely the horse to beat for all of us. He deserves the accolades he’s getting.”

Itsmyluckyday, who finished second behind Orb in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 30, finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby, which was contested over a sloppy, sealed racetrack.

“To me it is a throw-out, no doubt about it. I just want him to be able to show what he’s capable of doing and what he did at Gulfstream wasn’t a byproduct of a bias for a surface, and I don’t think it was,” Plesa said. “We believe he is capable of running those numbers at any racetrack. I thought the Derby was going to be the place, and it wasn’t. As long as this racetrack is fast, he’ll have no excuses.”

“He struggled with the racetrack (at Churchill), there’s no question about that. Did it take anything out of him? No more than a regular race. He’d have been running back in two weeks anyway. If I thought it took anything out of him, A) I wouldn’t have worked him and B), I don’t have to come here.”

Itsmyluckyday, who turned in a sharp half-mile workout (47 1/5 seconds) at Monmouth Park Sunday before shipping to Pimlico Tuesday, has shown all the signs of being ready to revert back to the form he showed in Florida last winter.

“His work Sunday — he just worked so effortlessly – his energy level, the way he looks – all the things that you would look for,” Plesa said. “He’s just doing great. He’s ready to run. All we’re asking for is a fast racetrack. I don’t want to use that as an excuse again I don’t want excuses. I just want to be a realist.”
OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – D. Wayne Lukas has been hovering around history since the start of the millennium, and the Hall of Fame trainer is scheduled to have three chances in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes to finally set the record for most Triple Crown successes.

The former basketball coach, who traded his whistle for a saddle in the 1970s, has been tied with the legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons for the most wins in Triple Crown races (13) by any trainer in history since Commendable won the 2000 Belmont Stakes.

On Saturday, Lukas has one of his best opportunities in recent years with a three-pronged attack in the nine-horse field.

“It would be nice to get over that, but the guy that holds it with me is pretty special in this game,” Lukas said Thursday morning after Oxbow, Titletown Five and Will Take Charge returned from morning gallops at Pimlico. “I think we’ll get over it. I don’t know if it’ll be Saturday, but there’s an excellent chance we’ll get that 14th one somewhere down the line. You know, though, the sooner the better.”

Lukas has had pretty good numbers in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, having saddled five winners from 37 starters – more than any trainer in history.

He’d like nothing more than to add a sixth Preakness, which would put the 77-year-old Wisconsin native one behind turn-of-the-19th-century trainer Robert Walden. Lukas is tied for second with Bob Baffert (Govenor Charlie) and Thomas Healey, whose last winner came during the Great Depression.

“The Preakness is special to me,” Lukas said, while admitting he’d be in favor of Orb winning if he can’t get the prize for one of his three ownership groups on Saturday. “As a trainer you think more or less of achieving something for a certain client.  You don’t run against the other guy or even the other horse. You’re pretty much centered on your own program.”

Titletown Five, owned by some former Green Bay Packers including Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, would be a long shot – already at 30-1 in the morning line. Will Take Charge was rated at 12-1 and Oxbow, who was sixth in the Derby, was made 15-1.

“They had a good morning,” Lukas said after dismounting his pony. “I like the way the track’s playing. I think it’s very fair for everybody. I was real comfortable with it. I like it when they go by and you can’t hear them.”

Lukas said he was a bit miffed and was joking with track handicapper Frank Carulli after Mylute was made the second choice behind Orb in the morning-line odds.

“I personally don’t think Mylute should be the second choice in the race, unless they bet on Rosie (Napravnik),” Lukas said. “I think Will Take Charge and Oxbow are about equal and their odds are going to fall somewhere between 5-1 and 8-1. The other horse is going to be a long shot, probably one of the longest shots on the board.”

Oxbow and Will Take Charge ran 1-2 in the Rebel (G2) in March at Oaklawn Park. Will Take Charge was a troubled eighth in the Kentucky Derby behind Oxbow’s pace-pressing sixth on the sloppy, sealed track. He expects both to run well here.

“Will Take Charge is 17 hands,” Lukas said. “He and Orb have a similar style. They’re not stop-and-start horses, so he didn’t get to run his race in Louisville. Oxbow is a gutsy little horse. I think they both had a chance to be part of the equation in the Derby.”

And Lukas readily admits the percentages are in his favor with a third of the field being saddled by a guy who knows how to win this race.

“I feel comfortable with the field,” he said. “It only takes one horse to spoil your day.”

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Orb has history of winning from rail

Posted on 15 May 2013 by WNST Staff

ORB STRONG MORNING-LINE FAVORITE FOR SATURDAY’S PREACHINESS

Derby Winner Tops Field of 9 for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown at Pimlico

BALTIMORE, 05-15-13 – Kentucky Derby champion Orb was installed as the even-money morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 138th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) after post positions were drawn Wednesday at Pimlico Race Course.

Owned and bred by Maryland native Stuart Janney III in partnership with the Phipps Stable, Orb registered an impressive 2 ½-length triumph in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 4. The Shug McGaughey-trained 3-year-old colt drew the No. 1 post position for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown that attracted eight other entrants.

Orb will be seeking his sixth-straight victory on a resume that includes stakes scores in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, as well as the Kentucky Derby. Joel Rosario, who was aboard for his Derby win, will have the return mount aboard the son of Malibu Moon.

Five horses that finished behind Orb in the Derby are scheduled to run in the 1 3/16-mile classic, including Mylute, the fifth-place finisher at Churchill who was rated second in the Preakness morning line at 5-1. Rosie Napravnik, who rode the first winner of her career at Pimlico in 2005 before establishing herself as the leading female jockey in the country, will have the mount aboard Mylute.

Departing, the Illinois Derby (G3) winner, was the highest-rated of the new faces on the Triple Crown trail, tabbed third in the line at 6-1.

The Preakness is the highlight of a sensational 13-race Pimlico program that will include nine stakes races and five graded stakes, including the $300,000 Longines Dixie Stakes (G2), the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3), $150,000 Gallorette (G3) and the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3).

 

POST POSITION DRAW QUOTES

ORB (PP #1; 1-1) – Trainer Shug McGaughey: “Well, he won the Fountain of Youth from the ‘1.’ His first race was from the ‘1’ and he finished third in a very good race. Obviously, if I was going to pick it out, I wouldn’t have picked the ‘1.’ But with only nine horses in there to run a mile and three-sixteenths, with a rider like Joel (Rosario), he’s going to figure out what to do. He’ll have him in the right spot.

“I’m not sure that I would have picked the ‘1’ out of there. If it had come out the ‘1’ in the Derby, you’d almost have felt like you needed to go home, but I don’t feel that way here.”

(On have speedy Goldencents and Titletown Five to his outside) “Goldencents with the ‘2’ probably forces our hand a little bit, but we’ll just see what some of the others do. Titletown Five is probably going to show some speed coming off a mile race. I think the field will spread itself out to where we’ll be able to get a position and do what we want to do.”

(What was going on in your mind as the draw went along) “I was probably thinking, ‘I hope I get one of those outside numbers and not the ‘1.’ Really, I was not nearly as worried this time as I was two weeks ago (for the Kentucky Derby draw).

“I’m looking forward to Saturday afternoon. We’ve got an even-money shot in the Preakness. What more could I ask for?”

(Did you think even-money was the correct odds) “Yes, I did. I saw in the papers it being bounced around at even money or 4-5. I might have been a little bit surprised that he is even- money and the second choice is 5-1. It’s a pretty good spread. We’ll see what the public does. As I’ve always said, I wish everything I ran was even-money or the favorite because they’ve got something on their line that makes them that way. Orb is that way, too.”

 

MYLUTE (PP #5; 5-1) – General Manager Todd Quast, GoldMark Farm: “We’re ecstatic about it. With this horse, it doesn’t matter as much, but it sure is nice being inside, a little bit toward the middle, and then having Orb inside us and Departing inside us, the two big threats. It’s great to be outside of them.

“In the Derby, we actually had the same path, basically, as Orb did, but he was three or four lengths in front of us. This time, maybe we keep a little better eye on him with his being on the inside, and we’ll see what happens.”

 

DEPARTING (PP #4; 6-1) – Trainer Al Stall Jr.: “Everything’s fine. There are only nine horses, so the position isn’t that important.

“(Orb) isn’t going to go on with it, so he’s going to have to go around. Out of the nine numbers, the ‘1’ is probably the one you want the least.”

 

GOLDENCENTS (PP #2; 8-1) – Trainer Doug O’Neill: “We weren’t overly concerned about a post position, because in a nine-horse field, we don’t think it’s that significant with the speed  leaving. We’re completely comfortable with No. 2.”

“I love it,” said jockey Kevin Krigger. “We were just looking at the past performances, and we should be able to get a good spot.”

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY (PP #9; 10-1) – Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.: “My lucky number, 9. I feel good about it. My horse is training excellent. I like being on the outside. I’m going to leave it up to (jockey) John Velazquez. We’ve got tactical speed, so he can put this horse wherever he wants. You can just draw a line through that last race and forget about it.”
GOVENOR CHARLIE (PP #8; 12-1) – Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes: “Perfect. When it was ‘1’, ‘7’ and ‘8’ left … Eight is perfect. I couldn’t be happier.

(Does everybody fear the rail?) “Really, nobody ever wants to be down inside. You always think, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ but it just adds a little more pressure to you because you need the trip. Orb is a good horse. Hopefully, he will overcome it.”

 

WILL TAKE CHARGE (PP #7; 12-1) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “It’s of no consequence out there. That’s good. I don’t think I can make an excuse for any post positions at all. I think I did fine. I’ll have to come with a different alibi tomorrow. I don’t know that the rail’s all that bad or the outside either.”

 

OXBOW (PP #6; 15-1) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “I was satisfied all the way around with my three horses, especially Oxbow. It’s a small field with a good run to the turn. I don’t think it’s very significant, except maybe for Orb. Oxbow for a change got a decent post position, so that’s going to help there. I like what happened there very much.”

 

TITLETOWN FIVE (PP #3; 30-1) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “He’s got good tactical speed, so I think that’s fine.  He will be somewhere in the mix early, so that’s OK.”

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McGaughey says Orb “full of energy” at Pimlico

Posted on 15 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DERBY WINNER ORB GETS WELL ACQUAINTED WITH PIMLICO

DEPARTING, MYLUTE, GOVENOR CHARLIE SET FOR ARRIVAL

(Nine 3-year-olds have been entered for the 138th Preakness Stakes: Orb, Departing, Goldencents, Govenor Charlie, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Oxbow, Titletown Five and Will Take Charge. The Preakness post position draw will be held at the International Pavilion in the Pimlico Infield at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will be broadcast live on HRTV.)

BALTIMORE, 5-15-13 – Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb got well acquainted with his new surroundings at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday morning. The Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, who arrived from Belmont Park on Monday and walked the shedrow of the Preakness Stakes Barn Tuesday, made his first appearance on the racetrack at approximately 6 a.m.

The Shug McGaughey-trained 3-year-old colt prepared for a start in the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1) by jogging once around the racetrack under exercise rider Jenn Patterson while accompanied by a pony.

“Everything was really good. He turned and jogged the wrong way. He was moving really well and full of energy. He appears to be settled in back here and I’m pleased with what I see,” said McGaughey while his Derby winner grazed in the grassy area near the Preakness Stakes Barn.

The son of Malibu Moon followed up his early-morning activity with a visit to Pimlico’s indoor paddock, where McGaughey plans to saddle him instead of the customary Preakness saddling area on the turf course. Orb walked around the saddling area under the cover of the grandstand and stood quietly in a stall while being attended to by Patterson, whose work with the likely Preakness favorite has received high praise from McGaughey.

“Without her, we wouldn’t be here. It’s not only her riding ability, it’s her horsemanship and dedication to the whole thing,” said McGaughey, who detailed the many miles logged and hours worked by Patterson while working with Orb in Florida and Kentucky. “Nobody will know how much I appreciate her and what I think of her and her abilities. The rapport we have between each other… I think it’s a pretty remarkable relationship.”

Orb, who came to Pimlico riding a five-race winning streak, including a 2 ½-length Kentucky triumph on May 4, has amazed his trainer with his development.

“I think there’s more there. What really surprises me is how he comes out of his races, not only mentally, but physically,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I looked at him just a second ago with the blanket off of him. Looking from behind, the sun was shining on him, and I was looking at a different horse than I saw a week ago and two weeks ago.

“His work at Belmont on Monday was something I had never seen, maybe before — the way he finished up with very little urging, if any; the way he was striding out and the way he was holding his leads. He’s sure come a long ways since the Florida Derby. I think there’s more there, but he’s got to tell us that. I can’t wait to run him on Saturday afternoon and, maybe we’ll see something special.”

A victory on Saturday would put Orb in line to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and first since Affirmed (1978) with a triumph in the Belmont Stakes (G1). McGaughey admitted that that thought has crossed him mind.

“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said, ‘No.’ I try to block it out, but if you’re in this position, anybody would think about it. Of course, you get reminded of it quite often,” McGaughey said. “It’s a thrilling thought, but we’ve got to get by Saturday. If we get by Saturday, it’ll be quite an interesting three weeks.”

Shug McGaughey will be available at 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday during a press conference to be held adjacent to the Preakness Stakes Barn. On Friday, jockey Joel Rosario will follow McGaughey at 8:15 a.m., while jockey Rosie Napravnik will meet with the press at 8:30 a.m. 

 

DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing completed the Churchill Downs phase of his Preakness preparations by galloping 1 ½ miles and then standing in the starting gate on a warm and breezy Wednesday morning.

Regular exercise rider Trina Pasckvale was aboard for the morning activity for Departing, who was scheduled to fly to Baltimore this afternoon.

Trainer Al Stall Jr. said the trip to the gate was a normal part of Departing’s routine.

“He was fine in there. He stood in there for about a minute and a half and he never has had an issue that I have noticed,” Stall said. “You have to do your homework before you take the test.”

Stall expected to be in Baltimore for Wednesday afternoon’s Preakness post-position draw.

“The draw does not matter, because there is going to be speed in there,” Stall said. “Goldencents, Titletown Five, Oxbow – I know they will be in front of us.”
GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill sent the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner out for his usual 8:30 a.m. gallop and a brief schooling session in the paddock Wednesday at Pimlico Race Course.

The trainer of last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, I’ll Have Another, said his confidence is returning to the level that it was at Churchill Downs prior to Goldencents’ disappointing 17th-place finish in the Derby over a sloppy, sealed racetrack.

“We were definitely disappointed with our effort in the Kentucky Derby,” said the 44-year-old Southern California-based conditioner. “We thought we were coming into it in good shape, but we think it was the track. You’ve got a different track here, a shorter stretch and tighter turns. Our guy is doing really well here. And with a smaller field (nine) and good weather, I think we can turn the tables on Orb.”

Jockey Kevin Krigger, who came to Baltimore with Goldencents three days after the May 4 Derby, believes his decision to stay East will pay dividends.

“For me just being on him every day and making sure he’s doing everything the way he should be doing, it is a thrill for me,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself and the horse is enjoying himself. He trains like he’s ready to run a better race than the Derby.”

The atmosphere around Barn B at Pimlico is considerably more subdued than it was last year when I’ll Have Another was the center of attention.

“It is a different vibe, but it’s a good vibe,” O’Neill said. “I think it’s all good pressure really. Everyone here in management is so kind to us and has bent over backwards to make us feel at home. The Derby and Belmont are corporate events. There’s more of a small-town feeling here and it’s easier to relax and enjoy it.”

Dealing with the Derby disappointment is also becoming easier for him.

“It’s tough because we know how competitive and how tough Goldencents is, but it’s the first time Goldencents has ever been in that scenario where he was getting a lot of kickback (mud in his face),” O’Neill said. “That wasn’t one of your standard wet-fast kind of tracks. It was almost like peanut butter out there, and you could see that the horses that were involved early ended up being in the back of the pack and the horses that were in the back of the pack early ended up being first at the wire.”

Goldencents, who has three stakes victories on his resume, had never been worse than fourth in any of his previous six starts before the Derby. He won the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) as a 2-year-old and the Sham (G3) in his 3-year-old debut in January.

“This business is definitely full of a lot more losses than wins,” O’Neill said. “So you celebrate all the wins and it re-energizes you.”

O’Neill said he plans to sit down with Krigger and review old tapes of  Preaknesses past, much like he did last year with I’ll Have Another’s rider, Mario Gutierrez.

“Kevin and I have talked about that,” O’Neill said. “I think it’s good for Kevin. Probably he needs my input like a hole in the head, but I think it’s something where these tracks are all a little bit different. Here the turns are a little tighter, the stretch is a little bit shorter. Watching the past runnings of the Preakness can only be beneficial, so Kevin’s been kind enough to say, ‘Let’s do it, let’s watch and see what we can learn.’ ”

“You can never look at those old Preaknesses too many times,” said Krigger, who is riding in his first. “To sit down and watch them with Doug will open up a different mind frame about the races, because we’ll have our own ideas about each race. We’ll put them together and end up on the same page as we usually are.”
GOVENOR CHARLIE – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is convinced that the Midnight Lute colt is ready for the Preakness and is capable of giving him his sixth victory in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Mike Pegram’s homebred will be making his fourth career start in the Preakness.  After finishing second in his debut on Jan. 19, he broke his maiden on Feb.17 and won the Sunland Derby (G3) by five lengths on March 24. He has recovered from a minor foot injury that caused him to miss the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert said Wednesday that Govenor Charlie must turn in a big performance at Pimlico to be a big factor in the Preakness.

“He needs to run his race back that he ran at Sunland,” Baffert said. “I think if he runs that race back, he’s going to be very, very competitive. That’s the way he’s been training. It’s a different group of horses he’s running with and it’s a classic, but he’s bred to run that far.”

Govenor Charlie’s grand-sire, Real Quiet, won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) in 1998. His second dam is Hall of Famer Silverbulletday, whose 15 career victories included a runaway win in the 1 1/4 miles Alabama (G1).

Baffert waited to commit Govenor Charlie to the Preakness until he saw how the colt came out of a timed work Monday at Churchill Downs. Govenor Charlie covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:10 4/5 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24 4/5.

Prior to boarding a plane for the trip to Maryland, Govenor Charlie jogged a mile at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning. Govenor Charlie was accompanied to Pimlico with a pair of stablemates: Zee Bros, who’s set to run in the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes on Saturday, and Fiftyshadesofhay, who’s entered for the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday.

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday, who was vanned from Monmouth Park Tuesday, visited the racetrack at Pimlico Wednesday morning for a light jog.

“He was great. We couldn’t have asked for any better,” said Frankie Perez, assistant to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. “He’s been giving us 110 percent training-wise. He’s happy. He was happy arriving here (Tuesday) and he’s doing great. He’s ready to run.”

The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby, will be ridden for the first time by John Velazquez.

 

MYLUTE – GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute jogged a mile shortly after the track opened at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning before boarding a plane bound for Baltimore.

“He got new shoes yesterday and jogged a mile this morning, so we are good to go,” said trainer Tom Amoss, whose Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher had worked a half-mile in 49 3/5 seconds Monday and walked on Tuesday.

 

OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent his three-pronged Preakness threat onto the track early Wednesday morning for some light exercise, and he was more than pleased with the way they handled the 12-hour van ride the day before.

“They were great,” said the 77-year-old Lukas, who is looking for his sixth Preakness victory. “I was pleasantly surprised this morning. I did a little with them, just jogged them and tried to let them get their energy level up, but they were excellent out there this morning. I was really surprised at how well they shipped.”

Oxbow and Will Take Charge have an experience edge over Titletown Five and are coming off sixth- and eighth-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby, but Lukas gives all three a chance to be factors in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“If you look at the aerial view of the Derby and study it, Will Take Charge ran one hell of a race,” Lukas said of the Rebel Stakes (G2) winner. “He was totally stopped. He was moving probably better than Orb at that point. Whether he’d have finished with him is speculation at best. I think he’d have been second. He’s not a stop-and-start horse.”

Oxbow chased the frantic pace set by Palace Malice in Kentucky and still managed to hold on for sixth while most of the others who went out early faded to the back of the pack. Lukas said he has come back to himself quickly despite the demanding Derby trip.

“He worked this week at Churchill (four furlongs in 49 4/5 seconds) and Gary (Stevens) said that was the most relaxed, the best he’s ever had him work, so he’s a factor in here,” Lukas said. “With the sixteenth of a mile shorter and everything, he’ll be OK.”

Stevens, who rode both Oxbow and Titletown Five in their respective last starts, will be replaced on Titletown Five by Julien Leparoux. Jon Court has been replaced by Mike Smith on Will Take Charge. Lukas said he wasn’t displeased with Court’s performance.

“I thought if we could get three world-class Eclipse (-winning) riders, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my clients that opportunity,” Lukas said. “I ran it by them, and they were excited about it. Nothing against Jon Court; I rode him all spring with good luck, but I think it’s the coach in me.  I always tell those riders we’re just gonna date, we’re not gonna get married.”

The unknown commodity of the Lukas trio is Titletown Five, co-owned by the trainer and two former Green Bay Packers (Paul Hornung and Willie Davis) among others. The colt’s name comes from the nickname for Green Bay and Hornung’s uniform number.

“He’s a very talented horse,” Lukas said of the son of Tiznow, who ran fourth in the Derby Trial (G3) after a ninth-place fade in the Louisiana Derby (G2). “He’s been behind all spring, but he’s got a lot of ability. He’s a beautiful mover; he’s got a high cruising speed. Willie Davis and Paul Hornung and those guys – it means a lot to probably be in the main arena here, and I own part of him, too, so I thought it was worth a shot.”

Lukas is hoping Titletown Five will be able to display a bit more restraint in the Preakness.

“I think Leparoux on him will get him to probably be forwardly placed, but not like his last two,” Lukas said. “He got in a speed duel in the Derby Trial and it really was ridiculous in the Louisiana Derby.”

Lukas, who has won 13 Triple Crown races to tie “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons for the all-time record, knows he is facing an uphill task, but he did it before here with a Derby also-ran, Tabasco Cat (6th in 1994).

“I think Orb’s the horse to beat,” Lukas said. “He has to come back a little bit to us and we have to move forward. I’m not running for second, however. That’s not my style. If I had my choice, I’d like to see 30 of them in here because I’d know Orb would be behind at least 25 of them. I think if he gets by this one he’s got a great (Triple Crown) chance.”

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