BALTIMORE – Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line stretched his legs and opened his lungs a bit during an open gallop of about six furlongs Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. Exercise rider Humberto Gomez was aboard for the morning activity scheduled by trainer Simon Callaghan.
“That is what Simon wanted to do this morning,” Gomez said. “I like to put him on the rail when he open gallops. He feels more comfortable there.
“The track was very good today, not like the last two days. I didn’t have to find a spot today. I started at about the quarter-pole and went about three-quarters of a mile. It was about a two-minute lick.”
Callaghan, from his home base at Santa Anita, said the Arnold Zetcher-owned colt would have another session similar to Sunday’s exercise on Monday and would have a regular gallop Tuesday. The colt is scheduled to ship to Pimlico Wednesday.
“He had another good day. He was very comfortable,” Gomez said. “He has had a very good week. The main concern coming out of a tough race (like the Derby) is keeping his weight on, which he has. He has never stopped eating.”
Tale of Verve Confirmed for Preakness Following Breeze
Tale of Verve was declared a go for the Preakness after working five furlongs in 1:00.40 over a fast track early Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
Dallas Stewart trains Tale of Verve, who turned in the fifth-fastest work of 25 at the distance.
“He is fit and fresh and we are excited to see what we have,” Stewart said after the work. “(Joel) Rosario will ride. He was on him when he broke his maiden.”
With exercise rider Pedro Velez aboard and working with Sir Barton candidate Lemon Drop Title, who also is owned by Fipke, Tale of Verve produced fractions of :12.60, :24.60, :36.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
“Twelves all the way around – beautiful,” Stewart said. “I may jog him in the morning and we might van up Tuesday. I’m still working on that.”
Tale of Verve, who was a last-minute entry into the Kentucky Derby (G1) but did not draw into the race off the also-eligible list, broke his maiden in his most recent start on April 23 at Keeneland while going the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles.
Rosario finished second in last year’s Preakness behind California Chrome on Ride On Curlin. He finished fourth at Pimlico on Kentucky Derby winner Orb in 2013 and was third aboard Creative Cause in 2012.
Derby Winner American Pharoah, Stablemate Dortmund School, Gallop
Zayat Stables’ Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, with Jorge Alvarez aboard, and Kaleem Shah’s Dortmund, with Dana Barnes up, schooled and galloped at Churchill Downs Sunday morning. The Bob Baffert-trained colts stood quietly for more than five minutes at the gap leading to the track. Once the track opened, the two jogged to the starting gate, where they stood before galloping 1 ½ miles.
Jim Barnes, the assistant to Baffert who has been overseeing things for the past week, was satisfied with the morning’s activity and will turn over the reins of the local operation to Baffert upon his scheduled arrival later Sunday.
Later in the morning, Zayat told the Daily Racing Form and Louisville Courier-Journal that his Mr. Z, 13th in the Kentucky Derby, would not run in the Preakness.
“I’m not running,” Zayat said. “I just don’t see any merit for that. I know he didn’t have a chance to run in the Derby. I know he was in huge traffic. But I think at this juncture I need to get him confidence. I know the horse is tenacious. I know he’s all heart. I know he’s fast. I know he was in a photo finish with Dortmund and Firing Line (in the Los Alamitos Futurity). So you would argue he’s as talented as they are, at least on paper….”
Zayat said he ran Mr. Z in the Derby on trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ recommendation “out of respect for the experience of the Hall of Famer.”
“I’m sure he has the horse’s best interest in mind. But there’s a point where I need to get involved. I don’t want to micromanage my trainers. But I think at this juncture, what’s the point of coming back in two weeks? The only reason we’re coming in two weeks (with American Pharoah) is because you have to think in your head ‘Triple Crown.’ But I would not want to run my horses in two weeks.”
Tesio Victor Bodhisattva Breezes at Laurel
Jose Corrales-owned and -trained Bodhisattva breezed a leisurely five furlongs in 1:04 Sunday morning at Laurel Park under jockey Trevor McCarthy while in company with a stablemate.
“I think he did pretty good,” Corrales said. “I did not want a fast work or anything like that. I just wanted to stretch him out and let him feel good about it. He really just galloped next to the other horse. Trevor said he could not hold him in the beginning, but he managed to do it.”
The Federico Tesio winner, who is a son of multiple stakes-winning millionaire Student Council, comes into the Preakness as one of the most experienced 3-year-olds in the field. He has made 11 career starts with three victories and eight in-the-money finishes.
This will be the first Triple Crown race appearance for Corrales, a local horseman who is the fifth-leading trainer at the current Pimlico meet with six winners from 26 starters.
“This is like a dream,” Corrales said. “It’s like a lottery ticket that we got, and we’ll see what happens. It gives you motivation because you’re running against the best horses. I’m already down at the bottom. The only thing I can do from here is improve. Some of the media has already called my horse a pony, but sometimes the ponies can beat the others.”
Bodhisattva was on the lead most of the way in the Tesio before being headed briefly and coming back on the rail to win by 1 ½ lengths at 4-1.
“The horse has improved and he’s done what I’ve needed to do with him,” Corrales said. “I’ve taken into consideration that he might not be the best horse (in the Preakness field), but his father was a good horse and he’s bred for the distance.”
And Corrales figures the Preakness is worth the gamble.
“If you don’t buy the lottery ticket, you never have a chance to win,” he said.
For video of Bodhisattva’s work and comments by Corrales, go to https://youtu.be/mqsXSKIQBvo
Divining Rod Exits Work in Good Order
Divining Rod came out of Saturday’s work in good order and spent some time Sunday morning touring the fields at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
Trainer Arnaud Delacour said he was still waiting for a commitment from a jockey to ride the colt in the Preakness. Julien Leparoux rode Divining Rod to victory in the Lexington Stakes (G3) on April 11 but is staying with Danzig Moon for the Preakness. Once decisions are made on whom trainer Todd Pletcher might run in the Preakness, Delacour said he expects to have either John Velazquez or Javier Castellano for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. (Pletcher reported Sunday that he has not yet made a decision on the Preakness statuses of Materiality, Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge and Stanford.)
The Lael Stables homebred son of Tapit breezed a half-mile in 51.60 seconds at Fair Hill Saturday and was tacked up and on the move during training hours Sunday.
“He went out and had a little jog and grazed,” Delacour said. “That’s kind of our routine. After a breeze I don’t give them a day off, but they just go for a walk out back. He was out for the best part of 30 minutes.”
Delacour has liked what he’s seen from Divining Rod since the work.
“He’s very good,” Delacour said. “He ate up everything. I couldn’t be happier.”
Danzig Moon Enjoys Walk Day
John Oxley’s Danzig Moon, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, had a scheduled walk day at trainer Mark Casse’s barn at Churchill Downs Sunday.
Norman Casse, assistant to his father, took note of the long-range forecast that calls for a 60 percent chance of storms Preakness Day.
“I would prefer it to be fast for Pimlico, so they can have a good day,” Casse said. “He (Danzig Moon) is a Malibu Moon and they typically have good off-track form. I think he would like it. Saturday morning (after an overnight rain), there was not a lot of water on the track but (exercise rider) William (Cano) said it was the best he had ever gone over it.”