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California Chrome trainer Sherman remaining upbeat as Saturday approaches

Posted on 15 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA CHROME, SHERMAN TAKE AIM AT MIDDLE JEWEL;

RIDE ON CURLIN BREEZES ‘EASY’ HALF-MILE IN 49 3/5 SECONDS;

TRAVEL DAY FOR BAYERN, DYNAMIC IMPACT, RIA ANTONIA, PABLO DEL MONTE

CALIFORNIA CHROME – Trainer Art Sherman was typically upbeat Wednesday morning after watching his Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome gallop 1 1/2 miles in preparation for Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

Sherman spent nine days between the Derby and the Preakness in California supervising his stable based at Los Alamitos, while his son, Alan, oversaw the daily training of California Chrome.

Art Sherman, 77, inspected the horse after flying to Baltimore Tuesday and watched him gallop under exercise rider Willie Delgado Wednesday shortly before 7 a.m. on a gray, damp, chilly morning.

“I thought it was a good gallop,” Sherman said. “He looked around quite a bit the first time around like he usually does. He’s a very inquisitive horse. Then he took a hold of the bit and was pulling pretty good the next time around. That’s his style and the way he gallops every day.”

California Chrome won the Derby impressively over a track surface that Sherman and his son said he tolerated. Sherman reported that the son of Lucky Pulpit appeared comfortable at Pimlico.

“He looked like he handled it really well. It’s got a nice cushion on it, this track,” Sherman said. “It reminds me of the days I rode back here in the East. I always liked that kind of dirt. It’s different than the synthetic tracks. He’s run on four different tracks already so I don’t think you have to take the race track with him when he performs.”

Sherman’s one concern has been the 14-day turnaround between the Derby and the Preakness. So far, he is satisfied that California Chrome is ready for another demanding test.

“It always bothers me coming back in two weeks, like I think it does most trainers,” Sherman said. “It takes a horse a good 10 days to bounce out of a race good, but he’s holding his weight, which is a big factor. He’s eating good; he finished every oat last night. He seems to be thriving in this type of training, so I’m sure not changing anything. Let’s go for it.”

California Chrome was measured this week and Sherman estimated that Steven Coburn and Perry Martin’s homebred colt had gained 35 pounds since running in the Derby.

Sherman’s smile widened when asked if California Chrome was the horse to beat in the 139th Preakness.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to be in anybody else’s shoes right now, I’ll tell you that,” he said.

Later in his conversation with the media outside the Preakness Stakes Barn, Sherman returned to the difficulty of coming back so quickly in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown against seven fresh contenders this year and in the Belmont Stakes another three weeks down the road.

“The challenge is there,” Sherman said. “I’m not one to run back in two weeks. I know it’s a tradition, but it’s hard on the horses. I can see where they have a lot of fresh shooters; they miss the Derby and then they come for you at the Preakness. It’s going to be even worse when I get to the mile-and-a-half race at the Belmont; they’re going to have a lot of horses in the wings waiting for me there.

“I’ve got to keep my horse happy and fresh and hope he’s in top shape. I don’t have to do much with him. He’s one of those horses that almost trains himself. He does what he has to do and you can see in the afternoon what he does. I don’t have to prove anything. He’s on a five-race winning streak. There is always pressure, but sometimes I look back at the races and he even blows my mind the way he moves away from the field – some good horses. I just keep my fingers crossed that he has a good trip.”

Although the Derby field included a number of horses that had shown speed in their careers, the race was run in a slow time. California Chrome could encounter a quicker pace scenario in the Preakness.

“The Preakness field is different to me because of the speed-laden horses that are in there,” Sherman said. “I’ve watched Bayern run at Santa Anita and he’s got a lot of gas. I’ve seen there are a couple of new shooters in here. Wesley Ward’s horse (Pablo Del Monte) has speed. Social Inclusion has speed. I’m just going off paper.

“But my horse, people don’t realize, has got a little gas himself. He’s run some super races. He can go :22, 45, 1:09 and change, a mile in 1:33. He’s run that. I think I’m in just as good shape as anybody. How the field breaks away from there and where you’re at; the first 70 yards are very important to me in a race.”

In the Derby, California Chrome beat 18 other 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles. The Preakness is one-sixteenth of a mile shorter with a field of 10.

“It’s always easier when you’ve got less horses. It’s less traffic,” Sherman said. “But with his style, if he comes away from the gate in good shape – there are three speed horses in here and he likes a target to run at – I really think that with good racing luck he should be in a position where he’ll be in the clear.”

As for the prospect of running his horse on a wet track – there is rain in the forecast for Friday –Sherman said he is not concerned.

“I’m not going there until I see the racetrack, but knowing this horse, I don’t really think the racetrack is going to have a lot to do with it,” Sherman said. “He seems to handle just about everything that we’ve tried. I’m from the old school. If you’ve got a horse that can run, he runs on anything: grass, dirt. A runner is a runner. You can’t make excuses about racetracks.”

California Chrome is scheduled to gallop Thursday at 6:45 a.m. Sherman, who has plans to school his Derby winner in the gate and the paddock, will be available to the media between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

BAYERN – Kaleem Shah’s Bayern was one of the first horses on the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning, jogging a mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez before shipping to Baltimore.

Bayern has shown signs of brilliance in his four races this year and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said he is ready for the Preakness test. After a 15-length allowance victory in his second start on Feb. 13, Baffert thought he might have a horse similar to Bodemeister, who won the Arkansas Derby in 2012, then finished second in both the Derby and Preakness. Bayern finished third as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby and Baffert opted to send him into the one-mile Derby Trial on April 26 instead of the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert entered Bayern and Chitu in the Trial, but scratched Chitu and sent him to the Derby, in which he was on the pace but finished ninth. In the Trial, Bayern finished first under jockey Rosie Napravnik, who will be back aboard in the Preakness, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

“I was thinking Derby when I went to Arkansas,” Baffert said. “I was hoping for a Bodemeister, coming out of the same type of race. He ran well, but he got a little tired there at the end. He ran an incredible race. But then I saw that we were not looking good for the points (to get into the Derby field.)”

Baffert settled on the Derby Trial as the proper next step for the colt.

“After the Derby Trial I was thinking Preakness. I wasn’t going to get him back in a week and run him,” Baffert said. “I was a little bit disappointed the he couldn’t separate himself from those horses. He still won, but I was looking for a bigger effort out of him. Then he came back well, so maybe he just needed some seasoning, some racing. I wasn’t going to just throw him to the wolves a week later.”

Baffert has decided to make an equipment change and take the blinkers off for the Preakness. He ran in them in his winning debut on Jan. 4 but did not wear them in his next two starts, only to be equipped with them again for the Derby Trial.

“I’ve been going back and forth and I just think that if he’s going to lay off horses, I think he’s going to be better off without blinkers,” Baffert said. “He actually has a pretty good mind.”

Baffert said he likes how Bayern has come out of the Derby Trial.

“He came back – he didn’t really shut it down – and he trained well right after that,” Baffert said. “He wasn’t exhausted when he came back. He was tired in Arkansas. I think his training at Churchill Downs has helped him a lot.”

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Trainer Sherman reunites with Derby winner California Chrome at Pimlico

Posted on 13 May 2014 by WNST Staff

ART SHERMAN REUNITES WITH CALIFORNIA CHROME AT PIMLICO

Trainer and Kentucky Derby Winner Team Up for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes

 

BALTIMORE, 05-13-14 – Trainer Art Sherman arrived at Pimlico Race Course Tuesday afternoon, reuniting with California Chrome, his Kentucky Derby winner and likely heavy favorite for Saturday’s 139th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1).

The 77-year-old Sherman, who became the oldest trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner at Churchill Downs on May 3, had taken a break from the 2014 Triple Crown campaign on May 5 while tending to his Southern California-based stable.

“He looks great,” said Sherman after greeting the chestnut colt in Stall 40 at the Preakness Stakes Barn, the traditional spot reserved each year for the Kentucky Derby winner. “He’s holding his weight, which is one of the big factors.”

Sherman enjoyed a hero’s welcome when he returned to Los Alamitos Race Course, which will hold a thoroughbred meeting this season in the absence of racing at the shuttered Hollywood Park.

“When I went back to Los Alamitos, where his home base is, on the marquee, it said, ‘California Chrome, Home of the Kentucky Derby Winner.’ It was really cool,” Sherman said. “It’s very exciting to have a Derby horse. You think you maybe have a shot for the Triple Crown. You don’t know. I’m the kind of guy who goes race by race, but I wouldn’t want to be in anyone else’s shoes.”

California Chrome, who became the first California-bred horse to win the Run for the Roses in 52 years, would be the fifth horse bred in the Golden State with a victory Saturday, joining Snow Chief (1986), Candy Spots (1963), Kalitan (1917) and Old England (1902).

“It means a lot to the whole industry and to racing, which we needed,” said Sherman, who rode at Bowie Race Course in 1959 but was making his first visit to Pimlico Wednesday. “We need stars right now and I think we’ve got a chance.”

California Chrome, who arrived at Pimlico from Kentucky Monday afternoon, jogged once around the track Tuesday morning and is scheduled to be sent out for a gallop Wednesday at 6:45 a.m. Sherman will be available to the media at the podium adjacent to the Preakness Stakes Barn between 7:30 and 8 a.m. each morning leading up to Saturday’s Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

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California Chrome, General A Rod, Ride On Curlin get first work in at Pimlico

Posted on 13 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA CHROME GETS ACQUAINTED WITH PIMLICO TRACK/ DERBY WINNER JOGS IN PREPARATION FOR PREAKNESS STAKES; RING WEEKEND SEEKS TO BECOME EIGHTH GELDING TO WIN; GENERAL A ROD, RIDE ON CURLIN, KID CRUZ TAKE TO TRACK

 

CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome’s first visit to the track at Pimlico Tuesday morning was more about getting acclimated to the home of the Preakness Stakes than exercise.

Exercise rider Willie Delgado took the big chestnut out for a tour of the one-mile course at 6:45 a.m., approximately 16 hours after he arrived at the Preakness Stakes Barn on a trip from Louisville, Ky.

“He jogged and he was great,” said assistant trainer Alan Sherman, who has managed the horse since the Derby while his father, Art, has tended to the rest of his stable in Southern California. “He stood out there for a while, just looked around and took it all in. He’s a really curious horse. He likes to look around a lot and check out the surroundings. He was good. He was really good.”

Alan Sherman said the colt has settled in nicely in Stall 40, traditionally the Pimlico home of the Kentucky Derby winner. The next step, Sherman said, was to let the horse check out the track while he was stretching his legs and getting a feel for the surface.

“Yeah, just let him look around,” Alan Sherman said. “When he gallops, I want him to be focused on what he’s doing and not be looking around and stub his toe or anything.”

Art Sherman, 77, was scheduled to arrive from California Tuesday afternoon and will be at Pimlico when California Chrome returns to the track at 6:45 Wednesday morning.

“He is enjoying the ride immensely,” Alan Sherman said, “but he’s not a young guy and was getting a little tired toward the end of all that. He’s fresh now.”

California Chrome’s emergence from promising young horse to the leader of his division with his resounding Derby victory has put the Shermans in the spotlight. Art Sherman has spent 60 years in the business as a stable hand, exercise rider, jockey and trainer. Alan Sherman works for his father and his brother, Steve, is a trainer in Northern California. The Sherman family is enjoying its ride with California Chrome.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Alan Sherman said. “Every year when you get the 2-year-olds in you’re saying, ‘maybe this will be the one that will get us to the Derby,’ but we’ve been saying that for a lot of years now and we finally made it. It’s really special.”

California Chrome, bred and owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, brings a five-race winning streak into the Preakness, but he wasn’t an overnight sensation. He won two of his first six starts, most of them races against other California-bred horses before he stepped forward.

“In the King Glorious, the last stake at Hollywood Park (Dec. 22), that opened my eyes up. Then he just kept getting better,” Alan Sherman said. “Then he won the California Breeders’ Derby and that was another impressive race. But the San Felipe (G2) was probably when I went, ‘wow.’ It was the first time against open company and he just broke two in front and won so easy that day. I was pretty excited about that one.”

After the San Felipe, California Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) by 5 1/4 lengths, a performance that made him the Derby favorite. His victory at Churchill Downs on May 3 made Art Sherman the oldest trainer to win the Derby and punctuated a solid career.

“My dad is so deserving of it,” Alan Sherman said. “He works hard. He goes to the sales and buys horses himself and claims horses with his own money. He puts up his own money. He deserves it.”

Having prevailed from the 19-horse Derby, in which several participants ran into traffic, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza move to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, a slightly shorter test at 1 3/16 miles with 10 likely starters.

“You’re not going to get the traffic problems, hopefully,” Alan Sherman said. “You can get in traffic problems in a four-horse race, but it’s not 20, by any means. And he’s got enough turn of foot. All Victor has to do is squeeze on him a little bit and he can keep himself out of trouble.”

When someone asked him what the worst possible scenario might be, Alan Sherman grinned and said, “Losing.” Sherman understood that the question was about race dynamics and quickly said the colt’s versatility would enable Espinoza to ride the race as it develops.

“If they go too slow in front, he’ll take it right to them and push the horses in front of him. If they are going fast in front, he can just sit off the pace,” he said. “That’s the good thing about him – that he doesn’t have one style of running. He’s pretty push-button. If you ask him he’ll do it.”

 

BAYERN – Kaleem Shah’s Bayern walked the shedrow at Barn 33 at Churchill Downs and received a visit from jockey Rosie Napravnik Tuesday morning.

Never worse than third in four career starts, Bayern had worked five furlongs in company Monday with Napravnik up in 1:02 3/5.

“He came out of the work fine and we are ready for Baltimore,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.

Bayern, along with Preakness hopefuls Dynamic Impact and Ria Antonia, is scheduled to be loaded onto a van at 10:30 Wednesday morning for the short ride to Louisville International Airport to make a Tex Sutton charter flight to Baltimore scheduled to arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in early afternoon.
DYNAMIC IMPACT – It was back to business Tuesday morning for John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact.

With exercise rider Marco Cano aboard, Dynamic Impact was on the fast track at Churchill Downs to gallop 1 ½ miles. Dynamic Impact had worked five furlongs on a track labeled as “good” in 1:01 3/5 Sunday and walked the shedrow Monday.

Assistant trainer Norman Casse indicated that Dynamic Impact would visit the starting gate Wednesday as part of his morning routine.

Dynamic Impact will be ridden in the Preakness by Miguel Mena, who rode the Tiznow colt for the first time in the Illinois Derby.

In that race, Dynamic Impact eventually wore down 2-5 favorite Midnight Hawk, winning by a nose with the third-place horse 8 ½ lengths back.

“He is a classy horse,” Mena said of what will be his initial Preakness mount. “Those kinds of horses dig in and don’t like to get beat.

“He’s a fighter, but he doesn’t like to be inside. At the half-mile pole (in the Illinois Derby), I was able to pull him out (from the rail) and he found another gear. He fought so hard until he got the job done.”

 

GENERAL A ROD – Trainer Mike Maker was on the scene Tuesday morning for General a Rod’s first trip to the racetrack at Pimlico Race Course, supervising the colt’s 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.

“He really seems to like it here,” said Maker, the former D. Wayne Lukas assistant who is preparing his first Preakness runner. “He likes that big stall. He’s all sprawled every time I’ve seen him. Last night and this morning he was in the same spot, sprawled out and relaxed.”

The son of Roman Ruler is in the same location that trainer Doug O’Neil’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another occupied two years ago at the rear of Barn D. Maker said he’s hoping to glean some of that good fortune for the Gulfstream Park Derby winner.

Maker has had much more tangible exposure to Preakness success, having served alongside Lukas for more than a decade from 1993 to 2003, when the Hall of Famer won the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), and Derby winner Charismatic (1999). General a Rod wasn’t quite as successful in Louisville, finishing a troubled 11th.

“I didn’t think he had a fair shake,” said the 45-year-old Michigan native. “He had a rough trip and didn’t get to run his race. He came out of it well and with high energy. It’s the Preakness … we might as well give it another shot.”

General a Rod was a model of consistency before the Derby, never off the board in his first five starts, including a head defeat in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and a 1 ½-length setback in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream in his final prep. Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing purchased the colt only days before the Kentucky Derby from J. Armando Rodriguez.

General a Rod has impressed his trainer with his consistency through his sophomore season.

“He’s been exactly the same,” Maker said. “Obviously he needs to get a little better, but, knock on wood, he’s had a string of great days for a long time.”

 

KID CRUZ – Assistant trainer Samantha Randazzo supervised a routine gallop for Kid Cruz in the colt’s first trip over the Pimlico racing strip Tuesday morning shortly after 6:30 a.m.

Trainer Linda Rice is scheduled to be on hand at Pimlico for Wednesday’s post-position draw for the Preakness.

“He got in last night at about 8 o’clock and had a nice mile-and-a-half gallop this morning over the track,” Rice said by phone from her Belmont Park base.

Rice said she plans to gallop the colt the rest of the week and plans to school him in the paddock sometime on Thursday.

Julian Pimentel, who has been aboard a pair of ungraded stakes victories by Kid Cruz in Maryland, will also be going for his first Preakness victory in only his second mount. He finished 11th with Norman Asbjornson in the 2011 edition.

Rice, representing Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds, claimed Kid Cruz from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for $50,000 off his maiden-breaking win on dirt at Aqueduct on Nov. 13. Mott had tried the son of Lemon Drop Kid on grass in his first start with no success before making the surface switch to dirt. Rice was paying attention.

“I spoke to the connections and we decided to put in the claim,” said Rice, who was the first female to ever win a training title at Saratoga Race Course in 2009. “I really liked his conformation and the way he moved.”

After closing to finish second in an allowance at Aqueduct on Jan. 26 to begin his sophomore season, Kid Cruz was shipped to Laurel and rewarded his connections with a resounding four-length victory in the $100,000 Private Terms.

The Wood Memorial was next on Kid Cruz’s schedule but he couldn’t make the race, so Rice opted to aim for the Preakness. He prepped for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with another easy victory in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico on April 19.

“He’s stepping up in class considerably,” said Rice, who is preparing to saddle her first Preakness starter. “His numbers aren’t as good as most of the horses in the field, so we know he’ll have to step up in this race, but we’re excited to give him the chance. He deserves it.”

 

PABLO DEL MONTE - Trainer Wesley Ward reported Tuesday that Pablo Del Monte had a good and uneventful morning of training at Keeneland.

“We galloped a mile and a half,” Ward said. “Everything went beautifully.”

Pablo Del Monte debuted with a victory in April 2013 and won his next start, an allowance race at Keeneland in October. Ward moved him into stakes company, where he has been competitive but winless in four tries. Pablo Del Monte set the early pace in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and finished third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Dance With Fate.

Ward decided to skip the Kentucky Derby after the colt drew into the field from the also-eligible list and was assigned Post 20, opting to focus on the Preakness. Pablo Del Monte will be Ward’s third Preakness runner.

“He’s certainly ready,” Ward said.  “He worked 1:10-and-change last week and he came back with a 1:12 1/5 on Saturday. He’s had the spacing between the Blue Grass and the Preakness now. If ever you’d want to take on a Kentucky Derby winner it’s when he’s coming back on short rest, like these two weeks.

“My colt’s got speed and historically, for Aloma’s Ruler and horses like that, speed has been to their advantage and they have taken it from gate to wire. There have been a lot of gate-to-wire winners. Everything is kind of coming together right now and I really don’t want to change anything. That’s why I kept the horse here until Wednesday. Everything is looking great.”

Ward had originally planned to ship Pablo Del Monte to Baltimore from Lexington, Ky, on Wednesday, but switched up and said he would put the colt on a Monday charter. However, he reversed himself Monday and went back to the original schedule.

Jeffrey Sanchez will ride Pablo Del Monte in the Preakness Stakes.

 

RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia, jogged a mile under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez shortly after the track at Churchill Downs opened at 6 o’clock Tuesday morning.

Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) via disqualification last fall, Ria Antonia is scheduled to gallop in the morning before heading to Baltimore.

Ria Antonia would be the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won the race in 2009 with Calvin Borel aboard. Borel will ride Ria Antonia on Saturday.

 

RIDE ON CURLIN – Trainer Billy Gowan took a very active role in Ride On Curlin’s morning activities at Pimlico Tuesday. After leading the son of Curlin out to the track for a vigorous 1 1/8-mile gallop under exercise rider Bryan Beccia, Gowan walked his Preakness hopeful in the shedrow and assisted in the bath and the grooming of the star of his four-horse stable.

“It looked like he got over it (the track) perfect to me,” said Gowan, whose colt shipped into Pimlico from Kentucky Mondayafternoon. “Every track he’s ever been on he’s gone over good. This one looks just like the rest of them, really good. I was really happy.”

The son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin had an eventful trip from Post 18 in the Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel, ultimately passing seven horses in the stretch to finish seventh behind California Chrome. Gowan decided to switch riders to Joel Rosario for the Preakness.

“If we can get a clean trip, we’ll just see,” said the 48-year-old Louisiana native. “California Chrome is an awful nice horse. I’d just like a clean trip and see what the horse is really made of. I thought it’d be our day in the Derby; maybe it’ll be our day in the Preakness.”

Ride On Curlin won an allowance race in the first start of his 3-year-old campaign at Oaklawn Park. He went on to finish third in both the Southwest and Rebel, before running a solid second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and heading to Kentucky.

Last season he set a track record at Ellis Park while breaking his maiden at 5 ½ furlongs, but owner Daniel Dougherty turned down a $1 million offer to sell the colt.

Rosario will be the fourth jockey for Ride On Curlin in six races this season.

“I don’t think it’s the jockey,” Gowan said. “All these jockeys are trying to win. They want to win races just like I do. It’s just racing luck and circumstances. He’s (Rosario) a really strong finisher on a horse, and it’s going to take a really strong finisher to beat California Chrome and all these horses. They’re all nice horses.”

Ride On Curlin is scheduled to breeze  “an easy half-mile” Wednesday morning.

 

RING WEEKEND – St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend galloped 1 5/8 miles under Alice ClaphamTuesday morning at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

The 3-year-old son of Tapit is scheduled for a quest to become the eighth gelding to win the Preakness Stakes, from which geldings were barred from 1920 through 1934.

Ring Weekend was gelded following his 2-year-old campaign, in which he finished third twice in three starts.

“He was quite a tricky horse to be around. We also felt that perhaps he was showing more in the morning than he was in the afternoon. It gave us reason to think there was more there and perhaps getting his mind more focused would help,” trainer Graham Motion said. “Also, he had one testicle that was not properly descended. We had in the back of our minds that it could be bothering him.”

Ring Weekend made a good showing in his 2014 debut, finishing second in a Gulfstream turf race on Jan. 18, before breaking his maiden on dirt on Feb. 8.

“The first time we ran him he was still green, a little cheeky, perhaps, when he ran on the grass at Gulfstream that day. The second time he really put it together. That was a big transformation for him,” Motion said. “Even this morning, we were commenting on what a different horse he is in the morning and how he is a more professional workhorse. I think it’s an ongoing thing for him.”

Ring Weekend followed up his maiden victory with a triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a second-place finish in the Calder Derby. The Kentucky-bred gelding was knocked out of a trip to the Kentucky Derby by a fever that cost him a few days of training. He showed no ill effects from the fever last Saturday, when he breezed six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 before galloping out a mile in 1:41at Fair Hill.

Funny Cide was the last gelding to win the Preakness in 2003, following up his Kentucky Derby victory with a 9 ¾-length romp in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

 

SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion jogged once around the Pimlico racetrack under exercise rider Domingo Navarro Tuesday on the morning after turning in a sharp 47-second half-mile workout in preparation for Saturday’s Preakness.

“He is feeling good. He ate up everything,” trainer Manny Azpurua said. “I really think he is going to run a big race.”

Azpurua is greatly encouraged by the way Social Inclusion has trained over the Pimlico surface since arriving from Gulfstream Park on Thursday.

“After his work, he came back with his head up and looking around. Sometimes after a work, horses that are tired will drop their heads. He was looking around. It was like he did nothing,” said the 85-year-old native of Venezuela who has been training in South Florida since 1979.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile also pleased his trainer during his trip to the track Tuesday morning.

“My main concern is if there is rain for Saturday, but I believe he’d handle it,” Azpurua said. “I think the track will be nice either way. I like the racetrack here.”

Social Inclusion, who has worked on a wet track at Gulfstream, has excelled in three starts on fast tracks, winning his first two starts by a combined 17 ½ lengths before setting the pace  into deep stretch during a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 5.

Having lost an automatic berth in the Kentucky Derby when nosed out of second in the Wood, Social Inclusion was on the outside looking in when entries were taken for the Run for the Roses. His connections opted not to enter him to be included in the also-eligible list. He was entered in the Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream on Derby Day, but he was scratched due to a bruise in his right front foot.

“I worked him the way he worked (Monday) because I lost the chance to run him (May 3),” Azpurua said. “I’m very happy with him.”

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Derby winner California Chrome, two others arrive at Pimlico

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Derby winner California Chrome, two others arrive at Pimlico

Posted on 12 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA CHROME MAKES THE 139TH PREAKNESS SCENE

Derby Winner, Ride On Curlin and General a Rod Arrive at Pimlico

 

BALTIMORE, 05-12-14 – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome arrived at Pimlico Race Course Monday at 3:12 p.m. to continue his quest for an elusive Triple Crown sweep in Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes (G1).

The 3-year-old California-bred colt, who captured the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths on May 3, was soon joined at Pimlico by Preakness candidates Ride On Curlin and General a Rod, who accompanied the Derby winner on his flight from Kentucky but arrived on another van.

California Chrome, who has won five stakes races in a row by a combined 26 lengths, is expected to be heavily favored to win the $1.5 million Preakness and become the first California-bred to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown since Snow Chief made his way into the Pimlico winner’s circle in 1986. Three other California-bred horses – Candy Spots (1963), Kalitan (1917) and Old England (1902) – had previously prevailed in the 1 3/16-mile spring classic.

Alan Sherman, the assistant trainer for his father Art Sherman, was at Pimlico to greet California Chrome, who was bedded down in the Preakness Stakes Barn in Stall 40, the stall traditionally reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner, as photographers snapped his every move.

“Everything went great,” said Sherman, whose father returned to Southern California a couple days after the Kentucky Derby to tend to the rest of his stable based at Los Alamitos. “He just stood there. He loved getting his picture taken.”

The 77-year-old Art Sherman, who became the oldest trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner on May 3, will be making his first visit to Pimlico after his scheduled arrival in Baltimore on Tuesday. He is not a complete stranger to Maryland, however, having ridden at old Bowie Race Course in 1959.

Following training hours at Churchill Downs Monday morning, California Chrome and the others were vanned from Louisville to Lexington, Ky., where they boarded a flight that landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 1:46 p.m. The vans carrying the trio of Preakness contenders, as well as other candidates for Preakness Weekend stakes, received a Baltimore City Police Dept. escort to Pimlico.

Alan Sherman said he’d send the Derby winner to the track Tuesday at 6:45 a.m. but is undecided whether he’ll jog or have a light gallop.

“I haven’t made up my mind. We’ll see how he eats up tonight,” said Sherman, who reported that California Chrome would not have another workout leading up to the Preakness. “He’s fit. I’m not worried about him being fit.”

Sherman expressed no qualms about bringing back California Chrome in the Preakness on just two weeks rest.

“I’m not scared, I’m just excited,” he said. “It’s quite the experience. We’ve never gone through anything like this before.”

Ride On Curlin, trained by Billy Gowan for owner Daniel Dougherty, closed from 19th and last  in traffic to finish seventh in the Derby, 6 ¾ lengths behind California Chrome.

“He shipped good,” said Gowan after 10 or 15 trips around the shedrow of the Preakness Stakes Barn with Ride On Curlin. “He’s got a good mind; nothing much bothers him. I rode on the plane with him and in the van with him. It was good. We got a police escort, so we didn’t have to stop.”

Gowan said he’ll take the colt out for a gallop over the Pimlico surface Tuesday morning at about 8:30 a.m.

Mike Maker-trained General a Rod, who is owned by Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing, finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby following a troubled trip.

“The trip was no problem, everything was very good,” said Joel Berrenlos, exercise rider for General a Rod, who will be stabled in Barn D. “He looks good and he’s ready to go to work, so we’re hoping for the best.”

Maker was due to arrive later Monday evening.

Pablo Del Monte had been scheduled to fly with the Derby winner Monday before trainer Wesley Ward made a late decision to postpone his departure from Kentucky. Pablo Del Monte is slated to join fellow Preakness candidates Bayern, Dynamic Impact and Ria Antonia on a flight originating from Louisville on Wednesday.

Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz was scheduled for an early evening arrival Monday at Pimlico. The Linda Rice-trained son of Lemon Drop Kid, who was slated to van from Belmont Park, captured the $100,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 19.

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Borel confirmed to ride Ria Antonia in Preakness

Posted on 12 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA CHROME HEADS TO PIMLICO FOR 139TH PREAKNESS; RIDE ON CURLIN, GENERAL A ROD ACCOMPANY DERBY WINNER; SOCIAL INCLUSION  BREEZES SHARP HALF-MILE AT PIMLICO; BAYERN WORKS AT CHURCHILL FOR ROSIE NAPRAVNIK

 

CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome boarded a van at Churchill Downs at 10:17 a.m. Monday for the first leg of his journey to Pimlico Race Course to headline Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes (G1).

Accompanied by Preakness candidates Ride On Curlin and General a Rod, California Chrome rode by van from Louisville to Lexington, Ky., where he boarded a flight bound for Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Scheduled to arrive at BWI at1:45 p.m., the Derby winner and company are slated to receive a Baltimore City Police escort to Pimlico with an approximate arrival time of 3 p.m.

California Chrome completed the Churchill Downs portion of his training for the Preakness Stakes by galloping 1 ¼ miles with Willie Delgado aboard.

“Everything is perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Alan Sherman, assistant trainer to his father Art Sherman, of the colt’s stay in Louisville following his victory in the Run for the Roses. “He lost a little weight after the race but put it all back on quickly.”

Victor Espinoza, winner of the 2002 Preakness on War Emblem, has the return mount.

 

BAYERN – Trainer Bob Baffert’s hope for a sixth Preakness victory, Bayern, worked five furlongs over a fast track at Churchill Downs early Monday morning in 1:02 3/5 in company.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Bayern and jockey Rosie Napravnik stepped onto the track shortly after 6 o’clock. Starting about a length back on the outside of 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winner Drill with Jorge Alvarez up, Bayern produced fractions of :13 3/5, :26 2/5, :38 4/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 1/5.

The five-furlong move was the ninth fastest of 17 at the distance.

“I love that horse,” Napravnik said of Bayern. “He always relaxes for me and does what you ask.”

Napravnik rode Bayern for the first time in a race in the Derby Trial (G3), finishing first but disqualified to second for interference in the stretch. She also has been aboard for three workouts at Churchill Downs and is ready to tackle Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome in the Preakness.

“California Chrome is very impressive,” said Napravnik, who finished third in last year’s Preakness on Mylute. “But he (Bayern) definitely will be a challenge for him.”

 

DYNAMIC IMPACT – John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact walked the shedrow at Barn 36 at Churchill Downs, a day after working five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 in preparation for the Preakness.

“He came out of the work fine and will go back to the track Tuesday,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father Mark Casse.

Miguel Mena will have the mount Saturday in his first Preakness.

 

GENERAL A ROD – Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod galloped Monday morning before departing Churchill Downs via van to Lexington for a flight to Baltimore.

“He’s doing good; everything’s fine,” said trainer Mike Maker, who is slated to arrive Monday evening.

Maker, who is scheduled to saddle his first Preakness starter Saturday, said there were two primary factors that led the connections to run back in two weeks after an 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

“He came out of his race good and it’s the Preakness,” Maker said. “It’s the second leg of the Triple Crown. If you’ve got a good horse, you want to be in it.”

General a Rod started from post 8 in the Kentucky Derby but was unable to utilize his normal tactical speed and get position. Once he was shuffled back to 16th through the first turn, he was never able to mount a serious threat to California Chrome.

“The distance wasn’t a concern,” Maker said. “He’s run at a mile and an eighth (Florida Derby, G1), too.”

General a Rod’s last win came at a mile, but he was second in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and a close-up third in the Florida Derby.

General A Rod will run in the silks of Jim Shircliff, the largest investor in Skychai Racing, as he did in the Derby.

 

KID CRUZ – Federico Tesio winner Kid Cruz galloped and was schooled at the gate for the second day in a row at Belmont Park in preparation for a van ride to Pimlico Race Course that would arrive between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, according to trainer Linda Rice.

Owned by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable, Kid Cruz will be one of seven non-Kentucky Derby starters in Saturday’s expected field of 10 for the 139th Preakness. At least four of the competitors have shown an affinity for early speed while Kid Cruz is a well documented closer.

“It certainly can’t hurt,” Rice said. “In his two previous races (Tesio and Private Terms), there’s been no pace at all and he’s managed to close into it. These are much faster horses, though. Hopefully he can catch them.”

Kid Cruz was especially impressive in winning the nine-furlong Private Terms at Laurel in his first stakes start on March 8. Sitting dead last in a field of 10 in the backstretch, the son of Lemon Drop Kid passed the entire field under jockey Julian Pimentel and won by four lengths. The margin was 3 ½ lengths in the Tesio at Pimlico on April 19.

Rice will attempt to become the first female trainer to win the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and is already set to make history as part of the race’s first edition to include a female trainer, jockey (Rosie Napravnik) and horse (Ria Antonia). Unaware of that scenario, Rice said she’s more focused on the race itself.

Rice paused for a few seconds, then laughed. “I’m still rooting for Kid Cruz,” she said.

Pimentel, who rode in both stakes wins, will be aboard the former claimer for the third time on Saturday.

 

PABLO DEL MONTE – Trainer Wesley Ward returned to his original plan to ship Pablo Del Monte from Kentucky to Baltimore on Wednesday’s charter flight.

Ward said Sunday that he would ship the colt on Monday because the flight would originate from the Lexington, Ky. airport, which is just a couple miles from his barn at Keeneland. He reversed himself on Monday, though, and notified Tex Sutton officials that his homebred colt would not leave until Wednesday.

“I got thinking about it,” Ward said, “and my horse is just thriving right now at Keeneland. With the direct flight on WednesdayI just thought, ‘let me leave him right where he’s at.’ I generally like to ship in right on top of the races when I go to England and France and thought I would stick with the original plan and train him right there at Keeneland, where he has trained his whole life, then ship a couple of days out and run.”

Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez will ride the colt in the Preakness Stakes. Sanchez was aboard for Pablo Del Monte’s six-furlong breeze in 1:12 1/5 Saturday at Keeneland.

 

RIA ANTONIA – After a 7 o’clock phone call Monday morning with Ron Paolucci (Loooch Racing Stable), trainer Tom Amoss confirmed that Ria Antonia would run in Saturday’s Preakness and that Calvin Borel would ride.

“She had a nice work yesterday (:47 3/5 for a half-mile with Borel up) and looks good today,” Amoss said. “We have a healthy, sound horse and we are ready to roll the dice.”

Ria Antonia finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 2 and joined the Amoss barn three days later.

“The idea (to run in the Preakness) was Ron’s,” said Amoss, who has trained a string of horses for Loooch for two years. “She passed all the tests with us physically, mentally and how she trained.

“I got to see her before the Oaks and she prepared well and worked well before the race. I don’t know what happened in the Oaks, but I like the way she looks now.”

Ria Antonia is set to become the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won the race in 2009 under Borel. A total of 53 fillies have previously run in the Preakness.

“We wanted to get a rider that had the opportunity to work her and feel good about it,” Amoss said. “I know Calvin’s confidence is strong after the work.”

Borel has ridden in the Preakness two other times; 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who finished second to Curlin, and 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, who finished eighth behind Lookin At Lucky.

Amoss knows it will be a challenge to knock off Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome on Saturday.

“We are looking forward to running,” said Amoss, whose Mylute finished third in last year’s Preakness behind Oxbow. “I see it as California Chrome versus the rest. If he runs his race, he’ll win. If it is not his day, it opens a number of possibilities and opportunities for the other runners, including us.”

Ria Antonia is scheduled to return to the track to jog Tuesday morning then gallop Wednesday morning before getting on an early afternoon flight to Baltimore from Louisville International Airport.

With the announcement Monday that Ria Antonia will be entered, the Preakness will make history Saturday with a filly, a female trainer and a female jockey all competing in the race for the first time. Trainer Linda Rice will make her Preakness debut with Kid Cruz and Bayern’s jockey, Rosie Napravnik, is set for her second ride in Maryland’s signature race.

Though it is a first for the Preakness, it will be the third time that at a Triple Crown race has had a filly, a female trainer and a female jockey. The 1984 Kentucky Derby was the first with Patricia Cooksey riding So Vague to an 11th place finish, one spot ahead of Biloxi Indian, trained by Diane Carpenter. There were two fillies in the 110th Derby, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained entry of Life’s Magic and Althea that was favored at 5-2. Life’s Magic finished eighth and Althea was 19th in the 20-horse field.

The Belmont Stakes triple came in 1996 when Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone rode South Salem, who was eased; Cynthia Reese saddled the ninth-place finisher In Contention; and My Flag finished third.

 

RIDE ON CURLIN – Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin galloped an easy 1 1/8 miles shortly after the track opened at Churchill Downs with Bryan Beccia aboard.

Seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Ride On Curlin left Churchill Downs by van shortly after 10 a.m. for the trip to Lexington and a flight to Baltimore along with Derby winner California Chrome and Preakness hopeful General a Rod.

Trainer Billy Gowan was pleased with the Kentucky-based preparation for the Preakness for Ride On Curlin, who will be riddenSaturday by Joel Rosario.

“Everything has been perfect; just like we drew it up,” Gowan said. “When he gets there, he may school in the paddock one day but won’t go to the gate. He’ll gallop tomorrow and maybe work a bit Wednesday.”                      

RING WEEKEND – St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend jogged five-eighths of a mile and galloped a mile under Alice Clapham Monday morning at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

It was the gelded son of Tapit’s first trip to the racetrack following his six-furlong workout in 1:13 1/5 on Saturday. He jogged a half-mile behind trainer Graham Motion’s barn at Fair Hill Sunday morning.

Ring Weekend, who captured the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and finished second in the Calder Derby, is scheduled to ship to Pimlico after training hours Thursday morning and before the noon deadline set for Preakness entrants.

“If I had my preference, I wouldn’t be there until Saturday, but I understand that we need to be there Thursday, and that’s fair enough,” Motion said.

Motion confirmed that Alan Garcia is set to ride Ring Weekend Saturday.

 

SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp’s Social Inclusion breezed a half-mile in 47 seconds at Pimlico Race Course Monday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in Saturday’s Preakness.

“This morning when we came to the track I told the owner I wanted 46-and-change,” said trainer Manny Azpurua, who watched the move from the porch of the Pimlico press box with Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing. “So, I’m happy. The jockey didn’t move on him. It was just what I was looking for.”

Jockey Luis Contreras, who has ridden the Azpurua-trained colt in all three of his career races, traveled from Woodbine Race Course in suburban Toronto to Pimlico for the work.

“He did it very easy. Manny told me to give him a good work with a good finish. He did it easy and so strong,” Contreras said. “He’s such a good horse. When you watch him, he looks like he’s running on air.”

The son of Pioneerof the Nile cut out fractions of :12 1/5, :23 2/5 and :35 3/5 on his way to the recorded official clocking, before galloping out five furlongs in :59 3/5 and six furlongs in 1:13 3/5.

Contreras, who rode Social Inclusion to a pair of dominating victories at Gulfstream during the winter before finishing third in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 5, expressed his gratitude that Gulfstream Park-based Azpurua and Sanchez have opted to stick with him for the Preakness.

“When they told me they wanted me to ride him in the Preakness, I was so happy, because sometimes when you leave to go to ride at another track, you can lose mounts,” said the defending two-time Woodbine champion, who rode at Gulfstream during the winter before returning to Canada in April. “You know I’ve been riding for 10 years and this horse makes me so excited; he makes me feel so comfortable and so confident. When I sit on him, I feel the power.”

After a 7-1/2-length debut victory and a track record-breaking allowance win at Gulfstream, Social Inclusion suffered his first loss in the Wood, in which he broke a step slowly from his outside post position and was forced to race wide around the first turn before setting the pace into deep stretch and tiring to finish third. The loss, while disappointing, has provided Contreras with added confidence going into the Preakness.

“His first two races he did it easy. In his last race, he got beat, but he was fighting right to the end. He tried to fight back and lost second by a nose,” he said. “It’s great to feel the power underneath you and know that if something happens in the race, he’s still going to give you 110 percent. He showed me he could fight.”

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Down the stretch this week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes

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Down the stretch this week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes

Posted on 12 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

When you’ve been doing something as well and for as long as we’ve been doing Baltimore sports media here at WNST, you like to tell people about it.

Such is the case in 2014, as we’re celebrating our 16th year as your local sports media leader. For the record, when you said you didn’t bring a gift but you sent us a check we believed you. We’re starting to feel kinda silly.

To celebrate, we’re looking over some of the most significant “water cooler” topics of the last 16 years and defining them with lists compiled by WNST hosts and contributors. Just a warning-we’re already 18 weeks into 2014. We’ve known 2014 longer than we ever knew rapper (rapper?) PSY. If you’ve missed any of our first 18 lists, here’s a chance to refresh.

Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

And finally here in Week 19 it’s time for some new blood.

For the first time, we step away from the main WNST hosts to look into an incredibly significant local sports topic. You may remember Gary Quill as someone who covered thoroughbred racing for us for years. His work was unquestionably unparalleled in this area.

You may have noticed GQ hasn’t been heard from at WNST.net in 2014. He’s now covering “The Sport of Kings” for HorseRacingNation.com and doing an absolutely fantastic job there as well.

Well we’ve managed to steal him back for the week to help us out with the #WNSTSweet16. You can thank us later. (Again, about that check.)

With real buzz surrounding a potential run to a Triple Crown for Kentucky Derby champ California Chrome, it seems like horse racing is going to have a special week in Charm City in the lead-up to Saturday’s Preakness. The sport has a rich tradition here in Baltimore (and Laurel…and Timonium) that we want to recognize.

With that in mind, this week’s topic is the “Sweet 16 Greatest Maryland Horse Racing Moments of All Time”.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the list will be made up of Preakness moments alone although I imagine more than a few will come from the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”.

I have no idea how anything could possibly top Easy Goer and Sunday Silence battling down the stretch in 1989, but I’m not the expert. I’ll leave that to GQ…and more importantly to you.

Gary wants your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post. We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, GQ will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew and Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. He will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday on “The Happy Hours” with Nestor Aparicio.

We’re going to be thoroughbred crazy for the next week here in Baltimore and a pony from the coast will be an even bigger rock star than Bono. Or even Manny Machado. Before we get there, help us out in looking back on the most significant local moments in the history of the sport. Make your voice heard!

-G

 

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Derby winner California Chrome among five Preakness horses set to arrive Monday

Posted on 11 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA CHROME TRAINING  LIKE A ‘ROCK STAR;’ DERBY WINNER, FOUR OTHERS SET TO ARRIVE AT PIMLICO MONDAY; DYNAMIC IMPACT, RIA ANTONIA BREEZE AT CHURCHILL

CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome continued his preparation for a scheduled start in Saturday’s 139th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course by galloping 1 ¾ miles over a “good” racetrack early Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

 

“He loves it out there,” exercise rider Willie Delgado said. “Whatever he does, I just let him do. He is a rock star and I am just a groupie. He is the Kentucky Derby winner; he can do whatever he wants.”

 

What California Chrome wanted to do in the first part of the activity was pick up the pace when a trio of horses galloped past.

 

“That’s just him,” said Delgado, who rode and trained in Maryland before venturing to the West Coast last fall. “He is so competitive that he wants to go.”

 

Delgado, who began getting on California Chrome last fall, is eager to see what California Chrome will do in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

 

“I think he’ll love Pimlico,” Delgado said. “It is a lot like Los Alamitos with sharp turns and a long stretch.”

 

As far as any letdown from the Derby victory is concerned, Delgado doesn’t see it.

 

“I am amazed at how quick he bounced back from the race,” Delgado said. “I have never been around one that bounced back that quickly. He goes out and does a mile and three-quarters like it’s nothing.”

 

Alan Sherman, assistant to his father Art Sherman, said California Chrome would go to the track at 6 Monday morning to jog or gallop before making the journey to Baltimore.

 

California Chrome is one of five Preakness candidates scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Monday. The Derby winner is set to share a plane in Lexington, Ky. with Pablo Del Monte, Ride On Curlin and General a Rod, while Kid Cruz is scheduled to arrive from Belmont Park.

 

BAYERN – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has decided to take the blinkers off speedy Bayern for Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes.

 

The son of Offlee Wild has pressed the pace in all four of his career starts. He broke his maiden on Jan. 4 wearing blinkers but didn’t have them on for an allowance victory by 15 lengths on Feb. 13 or his third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 12. The blinkers were back on for the Derby Trial (G3) on April 26, when he finished first but was disqualified and placed second.

 

There appears to be plenty of speed in the Preakness: Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, Pablo Del Monte, Ring Weekend, Social Inclusion and Dynamic Impact have all been prominently placed in their recent races. After the Derby Trial DQ, Baffert said that the colt had to be able to stalk the pace, hence the decision to make the equipment change.

 

”If we’re going to get him to track horses, track the speed, he needs them off,” Baffert said Sunday.

 

Bayern, purchased by Kaleem Shah at a 2-year-old in training sale for $320,000 last year, galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez aboard. The Baffert trainee, who later schooled in the paddock with the horses in Churchill’s first race, is scheduled to have his final work for the Preakness Monday morning and ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.

 

DYNAMIC IMPACT – John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact worked five furlongs in company in 1:01 3/5with jockey Miguel Mena aboard.

 

Dynamic Impact started a couple lengths behind his workmate and finished even at the wire with fractions of :13, :37.3/5 and a six-furlong gallop out time of 1:15 2/5. The move was the 18th fastest of 41 for five furlongs.

 

“I am glad we got the work in,” said Norman Casse, assistant trainer to father Mark Casse, of the move that had been postponed a day. “He started off a little slow, but finished strong and moved well over the track.”

 

Dynamic Impact had worked five furlongs in company in 1:00 1/5 on May 3 in his first breeze since winning the Illinois Derby on April 19.

 

Dynamic Impact is scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Wednesday and Mena, who will be riding in his first Preakness, is headed to Pimlico on Friday to ride Tepin for Casse in the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes at six furlongs. Mena has ridden Tepin in all four of her starts, including a victory in her most recent outing in the Delta Downs Princess (G3) in November.

 

GENERAL A ROD – Skychai Racing LLC and Starlight Racing’s General a Rod galloped at Churchill Downs Sunday morning and is scheduled to arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport Monday at approximately 1:45 p.m.

 

“I’ve been a fan of the horse since I saw him run on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream (a head victory in the Gulfstream Park Derby),” said Starlight managing partner Jack Wolf, whose group joined Skychai in purchasing the colt from J. Armando Rodriguez days before his troubled 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. “We didn’t see the real General a Rod that day. I think he’s got a lot of good races in front of him.”

 

Trained by Mike Maker, General a Rod had never finished out of the money in five starts before encountering traffic in the Derby under jockey Joel Rosario. Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano has been named to ride him in the Preakness with Rosario having already committed to Ride On Curlin.

 

“Javier gave the horse a very good ride in the Fountain of Youth,” Wolf said. “I think it was an easy choice for Mike when he came open. I think he’ll do a good job for us and the horse.”

 

General a Rod, a $72,000 yearling purchase, has already earned $282,000 and is set to be Maker’s first Preakness starter. He was third in the Florida Derby (G1), losing by only 1 ½ lengths to well regarded Constitution in his final Derby prep.

 

KID CRUZ – The two-time Maryland stakes winner galloped 1 ½ miles and did some gate schooling at Belmont Park Sundaymorning, Trainer Linda Rice, who is slated to saddle her first Preakness starter Saturday, reported that the son of Lemon Drop Kid was scheduled to school in the paddock before the fourth race on Sunday.

 

“He’s sharp and he’s ready for a race,” said Rice, who plans to van the Federico Tesio and Private Terms winner to Pimlico after training at Belmont on Monday.  “It’s a very prestigious race, and it’s very exciting to have a horse go to the Preakness that deserves mention. Frankly, I’m really not interested in going to a race unless I think we have a legitimate chance.”

 

Kid Cruz took an unlikely and circuitous route to the Preakness, having originally been purchased by Black Swan Stable for $80,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September Sale and sent to trainer by Bill Mott. After a dismal outing in his debut on grass, he was claimed out of a maiden victory at Aqueduct for $50,000 by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds with Black Swan later buying back  a share of the colt.

 

He has since won two of three starts on dirt for Rice, including the ungraded stakes at Laurel and Pimlico. The Preakness will be the first graded-stakes start for the confirmed late runner.

 

“We were not able to consider the Kentucky Derby because he didn’t have any points to get into it,” Rice said. “I had entered in the Wood Memorial (Aqueduct) with hopes of running, but we weren’t able to run that day. We ran him in the Tesio (Pimlico) instead in hopes of making the Preakness. It’s going to be a big step up in competition from his two previous wins, but at this point I’m excited about giving it a try.”

 

PABLO DEL MONTE - Trainer Wesley Ward reported that Pablo Del Monte walked Sunday, a typical morning after hisSaturday breeze at Keeneland.

 

The Giant’s Causeway colt, bred by Ward and co-owned with Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, worked six furlongs in company in 1:12 1/5 Saturday morning. He will ship from Lexington, Ky. to Baltimore on a charter flight Monday.

 

Ward joked that Pablo Del Monte was doing so well Sunday that he had to bring in reinforcements to help out because the colt had so much energy.

 

Assistant trainer Blake Heap will handle the horse at Pimlico until Ward arrives later in the week.

 

Ward has had two previous Preakness starters: Pleasant Prince, 11th in 2010, and Flashpoint, 14th in 2011.

 

RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia worked a half-mile on her own in 47 3/5 seconds over a track labeled as “good” early Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

 

With Calvin Borel up for trainer Tom Amoss, Ria Antonia covered the first quarter-mile in :24 1/5 and galloped out five furlongs in1:00. The move was the fourth fastest of 52 at the distance for the morning.

 

“Everything has been extremely positive with her and whatever the plan is, we are excited about her,” said Amoss of Ria Antonia, who was transferred into his barn last Monday following a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).  “All of her preparation with me has been very good.”

 

Amoss said a decision regarding the Preakness would come Monday.

 

“I am going to talk with Ron (Paolucci of Loooch Racing) this morning and then again Monday morning after she’s had a day,” Amoss said. “I am sure a decision will be made tomorrow.”

 

RIDE ON CURLIN – Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin galloped an easy 1 1/8 miles after the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Bryan Beccia up.

 

Trainer Billy Gowan said Ride On Curlin would go to the track at 6 o’clock Monday morning to train before being prepared for a 10 a.m. departure by van to Lexington to join California Chrome on a flight bringing him to Pimlico.

Beccia’s departure will be quicker.

 

“As soon as I jump off him, I’m jumping in my car and heading to Baltimore,” Beccia said.

 

RING WEEKEND: Trainer Graham Motion reported Sunday morning that St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend came out of Saturday’s workout at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. in good order.

 

“He went out for a jog this morning and everything went well,” Motion said. “He jogged about a half-mile here behind my barn.”

 

Ring Weekend, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner, breezed six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 Saturday.

 

SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp’s Social Inclusion galloped 1 ½ miles at Pimlico Race Course Sundaymorning, demonstrating good energy in his second pass of the grandstand.

 

“He looks good,” said trainer Manny Azpurua as the 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile walked off the track under exercise rider Domingo Navarro. “He’s ready for tomorrow.”

 

Social Inclusion is scheduled to breeze at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

 

“How far, it all depends. But right now, I think he’ll go a half mile,” the 85-year-old South Florida-based trainer said.

 

Jockey Luis Contreras is scheduled to travel from Woodbine to Pimlico for Monday’s breeze.

 

Social Inclusion is slated to make his fourth lifetime start in the Preakness. The Kentucky-bred colt kicked off his career with a pair of easy victories at Gulfstream, including a track-record breaking allowance score at 1 1/16 miles in his second start before finishing third in the Wood Memorial (G1).

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

Posted on 10 May 2014 by WNST Staff

Napravnik Ready for Emotional Homecoming in 139th Preakness Stakes

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In Other Preakness News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Chrome is scheduled to leave for Baltimore on Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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General a Rod confirmed to run in Preakness

Posted on 10 May 2014 by WNST Staff

GENERAL A ROD CONFIRMED FOR 139TH PREAKNESS STAKES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In other Preakness news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Inclusion first Preakness horse to arrive at Pimlico

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Social Inclusion first Preakness horse to arrive at Pimlico

Posted on 08 May 2014 by WNST Staff

SOCIAL INCLUSION MAKES PREAKNESS SCENE AT PIMLICO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In other Preakness News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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