Tag Archive | "Pimlico"

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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).

Comments (0)

Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

An announced crowd of 117,203 attended Preakness Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. A certain number of them were perhaps a bit more interesting than others.

A number of Baltimore Ravens were in attendance for Saturday’s event, including WR Torrey Smith, K Justin Tucker, OT Michael Oher and G Kelechi Osemele. Smith posted this picture of the group hanging out with one of Charm City’s finest…

Smith also posted this picture of himself hanging out with former Ravens LB/future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis…

Ravens DL Arthur Jones was also hanging out with the group, he and Tucker ended up posing for this picture with KISS’s Gene Simmons. You read that sentence right.

This was just before Simmons managed to photobomb D. Wayne Lukas’ celebration on NBC after Oxbow won the race…

And to wrap up the Gene Simmons portion of today’s show, his model/actress long-time girlfriend Shannon Tweed posted this picture claiming how much money she won…

Ravens LB Jameel McClain was also in attendance and he made some interesting hand gestures…

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall attended the event with his wife…

New Orleans Pelicans G (and former Terp) Greivis Vasquez was also seen hanging out near the Under Armour tent Saturday afternoon…

“House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey was at Preakness and spent some time with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley…

“The Good Wife” star and Baltimore native Josh Charles was also at Preakness, he even stopped to pose with our own Glenn Clark’s fiancé Margaret…

The Baltimore Sun snapped this photo of former Buffalo Bills quarterback hanging out at Preakness Saturday…

Other celebrities in attendance included Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former NBA player/coach Avery Johnson, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Towson football coach Rob Ambrose, former NFL coach/ESPN analyst Herman Edwards, former U.S. Olympic Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, Senator Ben Cardin, former NFL Coach/Terrapins OL Mike Tice and more.

Platinum artist Pitbull headlined the Infieldfest festivities as pictured below. Other performers included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Chevelle and Florida Georgia Line.

The biggest star of the day was surprisingly Oxbow, who stunned the crowd by winning the race while Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished 4th. Perhaps the best photo of the moment was captured by ESPN The Magazine…

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , ,

Lukas, Stevens revel in history made with Oxbow at Preakness

Posted on 18 May 2013 by WNST Staff

D. WAYNE LUKAS

GARY STEVENS

 

            THE MODERATOR:  We’re going to wait for Gary Stevens to get started.  Wayne is here.  Wayne, congratulations.  Number 6, we’ll make it official in a minute, but congratulations.  Let’s wait for Gary.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  I’m in no hurry.  It’s going to be a long night.

THE MODERATOR:  Erin Kelly of Calumet, Brad Kelly’s daughter, who accepted the trophy just a few minutes ago does not want to come out and actually answer questions in this setting.  I think what she said up there probably will have to do for now unless some of you guys can get her.  But as soon as Gary comes in, we’ll get started.

Again if you don’t know, Gary won his third Preakness:  Point Given, Silver Charm, and now Oxbow.  This is Wayne’s sixth.  Codex in 1980, Tank’s Prospect in ’85, then Tabasco Cat, Timber Country and Charismatic and now Oxbow.

And for Calumet, I believe it’s number eight.  And among the winners that they have brought here to Baltimore, Forward Pass was the last in 1968 and now Oxbow.

We’re going to also take some questions upstairs.  Joe Gordon’s standing by in the press box upstairs as well.  We’ll get started, Wayne, if you’re okay with that.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, I am.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, it’s getting tougher, because we’re getting larger fields and there are preparations leading up to these classics are so much tougher now.  Back in the ’50s and so forth, when it was eight, nine head in the Derby and so forth, it wasn’t so hard to maybe come in.

In all fairness to the horses that were in the Derby, they came up a hard 20‑horse field in the off going, and then to come back here in two weeks, that makes it tougher.  If they can run in six or eight‑head fields or ten‑horse fields in the Derby and then roll in here, it’s going to make it easier.  So it’s going to be tougher all the time.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I left it up to Gary.  Let me say, this I think I got a Hall of Fame ride.  I think we can plan this thing, we can talk about it, we can talk about strategy.  But once that gate is open, they have to make decisions.  Gary made some great ones.  He really ‑‑ I told him, if you get on the lead, get into that cruising speed and just let it happen.              Actually, we thought that maybe that Goldencents and a couple of those other horses might show a little bit more speed and we would not inherit the lead as easily as we did today.  Gary was smart enough.  When he threw up the 1:13 and change, I knew we were in good shape.  We weren’t totally confident.  But I knew the way this horse cruises and gets into stride, you could see how relaxed and how easy he was getting over that ground on the backside.  I said, this isn’t over by a long shot.  We’re going to be tough.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Very confident.  I thought he had the best day of the spring yesterday.  The gallop boy that gallop’s him all the time was on him the same.  And I said that is the best he ever looked.  He just seemed like he was in the zone, relaxed, got over the track.  He can get aggressive in the morning.  He’s not an easy horse to train at all.  He’s so aggressive.  You think you’re doing too much every single day with him, but the good ones sometimes do that.

THE MODERATOR:  I’m going to have to repeat the questions for everybody upstairs.

 

Q.  Neither you nor Gary were happy with ride in the Arkansas Derby.  What has happened since then?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, in all fairness to Gary, this horse is very difficult to ride unless you’ve been on him and you get to read him a little bit.  When he got in the Arkansas Derby, of course, he got wide and Gary rightly so thought we were going to be way out there, so he took ahold of him.

This horse just doesn’t want that.  He wants to be left alone, and so we learned so much from that.  You never know from racing.  I learned about the horse.  I learned a little bit more about training him, and that race may have made it a lot better for us to go into the Kentucky Derby and certainly today.

 

Q.  Is there anyway, Wayne, to compare this one to the other five?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  They’re all special because they were all with a different client.  That is the thing.  The key, if you’re training horses, try to win one every once in a while for a new guy.  We’ve got a new guy in Brad Kelly at Calumet, and that is just the good economics of it.  You give that guy that special moment to stand up there with his daughter and to know that he was watching at home and put Calumet, who we all know that name, back on the front pages of the racing publications is very special.  I’m so happy for him just to have the opportunity to represent him.

 

Q.  Did you expect Orb to make a charge at the end and he just didn’t, or did you just out run him?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, I really did.  I made a comment to some of my colleagues.  I said, if Orb gets clear on the outside at the half‑mile pole, in fact I told the Lieutenant Governor that right before the race, I said I don’t think anybody can beat him before the race.

I thought that ‑‑ when Gary turned the corner and we got that little bit of spurt on the lead change, then I got to feeling pretty comfortable.  Of Course, I’m not watching Orb at that point.  I’m trying to find Will Take Charge and Titletown Five and see how this thing’s unfolding after they hit the 3/16 pole.  I only watched one.

 

Q.  It’s been a while since you’ve won a Triple Crown race.  What does it feel like?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  People asked me that there and you guys have been asking me all week.  I thought I did.  The thing about it is you get up every day and look for that one that you maybe can do something.  But as long as we’ve got something to work with, we’re going to be around.  I think that we’re not through by a long way here.  I feel like we can get up and maybe get another one someplace down the line.

But that’s what makes it so interesting.  You have to have a passion for it.  It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job.  Is this a bad ‑‑ listen what happened?  I run last in the first horse I started.  The second one doesn’t even finish the race.  How is that to start your day?  Then all of a sudden, I run a grass race and I win the Preakness.  What a roller coaster.  I mean, that is the nature of our game.

 

Q.  Did you hear Bob Baffert thought you would appreciate this one more than your first one.  Do you?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, yes, definitely.  At 77, I do, yes.  The first one I thought I was going to win quite a few more.  I ran the first Classic I ever ran in was Codex right here.  I told my son, this is no big deal.  We’ll win a bunch of these, and then I went ten years before I got another one.  Bob’s a good friend, and a meant a lot to me to have him come down all wait from where he was and congratulate me.  I called him this week at home.  He was on the fence maybe he’d even run here.  And I said, Bob, get on an airplane and come back.  You need to be here.  We’ll have some fun.

So what does he do?  He comes back, wins the Black‑Eyed Susan, wins the Sprint.  He didn’t get this one, but he had a hell of a day.

 

Q.  Are you going to go to the Belmont?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, one of the things that really Gary and I were talking about that really impressed us was he was not even blowing when he was walked in the winner circle.  You guys are pretty astute.  I don’t know if you noticed that, but he didn’t hardly turn a hair, and he showed no stress lines whatsoever, nothing, so a mile-and-a-half.

Frank Stronach says he can run that far.  Of course he owns the sire.  But we haven’t had a chance to cool him out yet and I’ve got to talk to Mr. Kelly.  But you know me, I like to rack them up in the big events.  So I’ll probably go.

 

Q.  What are your travel plans?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  4:30 tomorrow morning, if you want to get up and watch him load on that van, he’ll be on it.  And my truck driver and I will get in that big old truck, and we’ll head down the road and make about two Wendy’s stops on the way, and we’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky by 5:36 tomorrow night.

 

Q.  I know you want to win more of these, but how complete now do you think your Hall of Fame Triple Crown career is?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I enjoy it so much.  I don’t wake up every day trying to prove I can train a race horse anymore.  When you’re younger, you keep trying to prove yourself in this industry.

But at this point in my career, I’m very comfortable with where we’re at.  I don’t wake up and say, gosh, I’ve got something to prove to you all that I can train a race horse.  I do it for the personal satisfaction of working with the horses and developing some young assistants.

We’ve still got some guys coming through the ranks, and it’s just a wonderful lifestyle.  I mean, where in the hell can you get paid to ride out there.  I ride on my saddle horse in beautiful weather four hours in the morning, go to the turf club, have lunch.  Deal with great people.  I mean, is this a great country or what?

 

Q.  You broke the record for most Triple Crown wins.  I believe today was 14.  How does that make you feel?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I shared that record with a very special man in this industry in Sunny Fitzsimmons.  And if I never broke it, I was proud of that.  I know he meant so much to the thoroughbred industry.  I never knew him personally, but I thought that that was something I’m really proud of.  I don’t have it documented anywhere.  You guys reminded me of it all week.

I thought maybe we’d win another one, but to get it done, it’s probably going to be on trivial pursuit in about five minutes, but that’s it.

 

Q.  The last thing you said at the Alibi the other day when you were talking to us was I think we’re going to get another one, and you got it.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yeah, but I didn’t know if it was Saturday.

 

Q.  The whole press corps is wondering can you delay the departure time from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Some of us in this great nation get up and get after it in the morning; others sleep in.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  I get young guys that say I’ll do anything.  I just want to be a part of it.  I’ll clean stalls.  I’ll wash pots, and I’ll get up and be right there.  And I look at them and say, we’ll test you on that.  I would say they have to have a passion for it.  It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job.  The most important thing is to have a complete, unquestionable passion for the industry and what you want to do.

Then I tell them, don’t get married.  You can have a trainer’s license or a marriage license.  You can have one or another, but not both at the same time.  Then dedicate yourself completely, completely to the game, and if you work, it will probably come.  Treat your owners good, they’ll get you the horses.

You guys have been great all week.  I really appreciate you.  Thank you.  Any superlatives you’d like to use on Oxbow, just feel free.

THE MODERATOR:  Gary is finishing up a live shot and should be in here any minute.  Gary Stevens is here.

I don’t know how I should phrase this, Gary, but I believe you’re the first grandfather to win a Triple Crown race?

GARY STEVENS:  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.  I guarantee I’m the first grandfather winner of the Triple Crown race.

THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations.

GARY STEVENS:  Thank you.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  When did you think you had it won?

GARY STEVENS:  Just to reiterate that he ran a huge race in the Kentucky Derby.  I don’t consider that we were really part of that fast, early pace.  That was the leader that day, and we were five lengths off of it.  This horse has such a high cruising speed that he’ll fool you a little bit.  I was very comfortable and he was very comfortable in the Kentucky Derby.              When I hit the half‑mile pole, the leader was out there a ways.  Normandy Invasion came up outside of me, and that forced me to move possibly a bit earlier than I wanted.  But when you’re in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t give anything up.  You try to get away with what you can.

I won’t say it backfired on us, but I learned a heck of a lot about Oxbow, what he did the final 1/8 mile when he was breathing fire a little bit.  Everybody else caved in, he didn’t.  Had a heck of a time pulling him up after the race, and it showed me how much heart he had.

Came back on Monday, breezed him for Wayne, and we didn’t want anything fancy.  Just quiet, nice, relaxed.  He warmed up relaxed, he worked relaxed, he pulled up relaxed, and that’s all I was looking for, and I think that’s all coach was looking for.  I stayed away all week long, and I’ve been watching on TV a little bit, and I was liking what I was seeing when he was galloping, and I loved the prerace warm‑up today.

We had talked about strategy, and I didn’t expect to be on the lead as I said earlier.  In these classic races, you don’t give up anything that they give you free, and they gave me a free three‑quarters of a mile today, and I was smiling pretty good midway down the back side.

I actually thought about Wayne up in the grandstands.  I knew he had to be looking at those fractions and pleased with what he was seeing.  When I saw Oxbow’s ears fluttering back and forth at the 3/8 pole, I thought of the 1988 Kentucky Derby came back to me.  I said kick from here.  Try to get some separation from the field.  I don’t know how much separation we got from the 3/8 pole to the quarter pole, but I had a lost horse, and I pretty much rode him like I did Skyring the race before.

I jumped on him at the quarter pole and said let’s go now, and put it to him and just try and last as we did with winning colors.  But we did more than last today.  We pulled up.  He wasn’t a tired horse.  He was a happy horse.  He enjoyed the celebration, I think as much as ‑‑ well, maybe not as much as Wayne and I, but he was enjoying it.

 

Q.  What is it like winning another Triple Crown race for Wayne?  You won your first one back in 1988.

GARY STEVENS:  Well, that first one is one I’ll never forget, because it put me on the map with winning colors.  Wayne put me on the map.  When you win that first classic your phone starts ringing, people want you.  That’s why I got the phone call from Oxbow this year dating all the way back to 1988.

But I’m not going to lie to you, to win a Classic at 50 years old after seven‑years retirement, it doesn’t get any better than this.  This is super, super sweet, and it happened for the right guy.  All the stars were aligned.  I couldn’t be more pleased winning this thing.  It’s even more special winning it for Wayne Lukas and his team.

 

Q.  Have you ever had one moment of doubt since you came back January 1st?

GARY STEVENS:  I haven’t had any doubt at all until this past three weeks.  I went out from California to Keeneland, and only won three races during that short meet, which wasn’t bad.  It was one of the most competitive boutique meetings in the United States.  So I was happy enough with my three wins there.       But shifting my tack to Churchill Downs, I have not won a race since leaving Keeneland.  It’s been a month since I won my last race; granted, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities in the right place.

But Oxbow two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was one of my best finishes, a horse that really went out and performed for me.  I thought maybe my business was lacking, maybe this was a mistake.  I’ve been questioning myself, and when riders go through slumps, I don’t care if you’re 15 years old or 30 years old, you start changing your stirrups on your saddles and this and that.

I told myself, you know what, if it’s meant to be, it’s not going to matter where your stirrups are, it’s going to matter what horse you’re riding.

When I won on Skyring, a $50 horse just prior to the Preakness, you don’t know what kind of boost that gave me going into the Preakness, and it was for Wayne Lukas.  And I thought to myself, man, this guy, it doesn’t matter what the form looks like on a horse.  You go out there with confidence, and you can throw an upset.

I went out on the turf course to be legged up on Oxbow, and I couldn’t have had more confidence.  After the prerace warm‑up, I was actually joking with Donna Brothers in the post period, and I said, can I borrow that microphone and take it with me and interview Joel halfway through the race?  And she said you’re not getting this microphone.

But I was very relaxed, and very happy, and it’s just funny how things go.  But one race can really boost your spirits.  Doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 50.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

GARY STEVENS:  I fully expected that Orb possibly departing and Will Take Charge would be making a run.  But I came into the stretch so loaded.  I couldn’t believe that no one challenged me going into the far turn, but when no one did, I said, I think everybody’s in trouble right now.  I expected to maybe see a horse come up and shadow me the last 50 yards, at least get up on my hip, on Oxbow’s hip.

When that didn’t happen, when I didn’t see anybody by 16th pole and Oxbow was not responding to the presence of another horse, normally a horse can hear before myself and with their vision, another horse comes up and they’ll kind of jump in it.  A lot of critics are going to think that I’m full of it saying this, but I won with a little something left, believe it or not.

 

Q.  Every win that Oxbow has been on the lead like you won today.  Is that his M.O.?  Is that what we’re going to see from here on out, do you think?

GARY STEVENS:  I wouldn’t think so.  The thing about being on the lead, he rated himself today.  Wayne Lukas has this whole thing he tells jockeys with instructions, take about five pounds of pressure on those reins, put a little smile on their face and give them some confidence.  That kept ringing through my ear while I was in the starting gate today, just making him comfortable and put a smile on his face.  And he had that smile on his face for a long ways today.  And as long as he’s comfortable in a rhythm, and he was very comfortable today.  He rated himself.  I was just a passenger.

So another thing that I’ll answer right now, because I know the questions are going to be coming, what about the Belmont?  This horse has that happy kind of pace, and anybody that wants to come and tangle with him early on, bring it on.  You’re going to get in trouble if you tangle with him.  That’s all I can say.

I know Coach well enough, and I’m thinking along the same lines.  If he acts as happy in the morning as he did in the Winner’s Circle, I can’t wait for three weeks from now.

 

Q.  While you were doing TV, did you ever think, and you were watching your colleagues, your brethren sit here and answer these questions and watch them celebrate wins in the Triple Crown series, did you ever think you’d be back here doing this?

GARY STEVENS:  Well, I’ll just say that my great friend Mike Smith, who is more like a brother than a friend to me, we’ve been through so much together over the years, watching what he has done since my retirement over the last seven years and to continue on as he has at a high level was a big inspiration for me.  Just did an interview from a French television station as well, and watching Olivier Peslier do what he’s done.  I’ve ridden with him for so many years and watch him ride at the level he does, both of those guys gave me a lot of inspiration.

I thought back to Lester Piggott and his comeback in the Breeders’ Cup and what he did, I won’t go where he was and came out of retirement and pulled off what he did with Royal Academy, but you don’t forget what you’re doing.  You’re only as good as the horses you ride and the people that you ride for.  And I rode for what I consider to be one of the greatest trainers of all time today.

I didn’t know you were standing there still.  Oh, all right.  I love you, Wayne.

THE MODERATOR:  Gary, thank you so much.  Great job, Gary Stevens.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Rosario wins Black-Eyed Susan Stakes aboard Fiftyshadesofhay

Posted on 17 May 2013 by WNST Staff

Fiftyshadesofhay Gets Up To Win Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

 

BALTIMORE, 05-17-13 – Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman’s Fiftyshadesofhay closed with a rush to claim a narrow victory in the 89th running of the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico Race Course.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the daughter of Pulpit rated off the pace under jockey Joel Rosario before launching an outside stretch run and reeling in Marathon Lady by a neck at the finish. Fiftyshadesofhay ran the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies in 1:52.73.  Toasting, who pressed the pace under Javier Castellano, finished third.

Emollient, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Mike Smith, had trouble leaving the starting gate and was never a serious factor during a sixth-place finish.

Fiftyshadesofhay broke her maiden at Hollywood Park last year and won the San Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita in January. She most recently finished third in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) on April 6.

Fiftyshadesofhay paid $6.60.

 

BLACK-EYED SUSAN STAKES QUOTES

Bob Baffert (trainer, Fiftyshadesofhay, winner) – “I wasn’t sure turning for home because I told Rosario that she usually runs 1-2-3, but ride her the way you feel you should ride her. Rosario sort of did his own thing today, but it was the right thing.”

 

Joel Rosario (jockey, Joel Rosario, winner) – “It was kind of a perfect trip, but she was kind of slowing a little bit from the dirt in her face. I got her on the outside and she looked like she was really comfortable. Right when I went past the three-eighths pole before turning for home, she kind of got away from me a little bit. I was kind of worried about it, but she was able to get it back together and she kept going. Bob (Baffert) told me, ‘She’s just one-paced, so keep her going.’ So I think it was a little bit better to keep her on the outside. When I passed the sixteenth-pole I could see that the horse in front of me was backing up a little. That’s when I felt better.

 

Steve Hobby (trainer, Marathon Lady, 2nd) – “She ran huge. She ran her tail off. She had a great trip. I don’t know what we could have done any different.

 

Robby Albarado (jockey, Marathon Lady, 2nd) – “I had a lot of horse under me the entire race. Something must have happened to Mike’s (Smith) filly (Emollient) in the gate, because I thought she’d be up front. I found myself lying third and very comfortable at every point. I thought I had it won until right before the wire.”

 

Javier Castellano (jockey, Toasting, 3rd) – “She was great today. They put the blinkers on her and she pulled me all the way. I’m happy with what she did against the best 3-year-olds in the country. She stepped up and showed us her class today.”

 

Bill Mott (trainer, Emollient, 6th)   “She had a pretty good stumble leaving the gate, which didn’t help. Obviously, she got back a little further and had to overcome that. It looked like to me she might have been fighting that racetrack. The main track may not be her best surface, so you might see her try the turf course next time.”

 

Mike Smith (jockey, Emollient, 6th) – “She stumbled out of the gate really bad, and she caught her leg. It was pretty much over for us after that.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

The Band Perry added to Preakness festivities

Posted on 17 May 2013 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, 05-17-13—The Maryland Jockey Club announced today that Republic Nashville and Grammy-nominated recording artists, The Band Perry, will sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic/America The Beautiful” when Pimlico Race Course honors the military at the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1), Saturday, May 18, also Armed Forces Day.

Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 2010, The Band Perry has ascended to dizzying heights. Fronted by Kimberly Perry and rounded out by her younger brothers Neil and Reid, the band has notched a string of hit singles, including the quadruple-platinum “If I Die Young” (which climbed to #1 on Billboard’s Country and AC charts), the platinum “You Lie,” and the gold certified Country #1 “All Your Life” as well as their two-week #1 single “Better Dig Two,” from their wildly successful sophomore release, PIONEER, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart. The Band Perry’s latest song, “DONE.,” penned by Neil and Reid Perry with John Davidson and Jacob Bryant, promises to be their next chart topper. They’ve also enjoyed sold-out tours and a showering of honors, including multiple ACM, CMA, and CMT Music awards, as well as Teen Choice, AMA, ACA, and Billboard Music award nominations — all of which has cemented the sibling trio as one of the hottest acts in recent history.  The Band Perry is currently nominated for a CMT Music Award for “Group Video of the Year” and fans can go to http://www.cmt.com/cmt-music-awards/nominees/group-video-of-the-year.jhtml to vote.

“We are thrilled to welcome The Band Perry to Pimlico as we proudly recognize Armed Forces Day, a cherished and respected tradition at Preakness”, said Tom Chuckas, President and COO of the Maryland Jockey Club.

The Band Perry will sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic/America The Beautiful”  directly before the fly-over by the B-25 J Mitchell Bomber, Panchito, owned and flown by Larry Kelley of Mardela Springs, Maryland. The flyover is sponsored by the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and the Maryland Jockey Club. The B-25 Bombers achieved world-wide fame on April 18th, 1942 when 16 B-25s, under the command of Lt. Col James Doolittle, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and attacked Tokyo in a daring raid as retribution for the attacks on Pearl Harbor which occurred just 4 months prior. The B-25 today acts as a reminder of our history and works to help spread awareness of the DAV to Veterans.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Sagamore’s Walkwithapurpose scratched from Black-Eyed Susan

Posted on 16 May 2013 by WNST Staff

SAGAMORE RACING’S WALKWITHAPURPOSE OUT OF THE BLACK-EYED SUSAN STAKES

Statement from General Manager Tom Mullikin

Baltimore, Md. – After Walkwithapurpose’s final gallop this morning in preparation of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, she took a bad step and bruised her foot making her unable to compete in the race tomorrow.  X-rays have been taken and showed up negative, but we want to take the necessary precautions.  We will find another race for her down the road after her foot has time to heal, and we are confident she has a great racing career ahead of her.

This is very disappointing for the entire Sagamore Racing team after putting in so much hard work over the past few months to get us to this point.  We were very excited about the opportunity to have our homebred filly in one of Maryland’s most prestigious races.

Sagamore will look to rebound on Saturday and enjoy Preakness Weekend.  We would like to thank all of our fans for their overwhelming support.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)