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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby Horses at The Downey Profile®

 


Preakness Stakes Entries
Last Updated May 17, 2015 @ 10:15 a.m. ET


 
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AMERICAN PHAROAH (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Zayat Stables LLC
Breeder: Zayat Stables
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker, Star of Goshen)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Littleprincessemma (Yankee Victor, Exclusive Rosette)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 2-3-3-0-0 (8) 4.33
Foal Date: Feb. 2, 2012


A ridgling.

WORKOUTS
On Feb. 2, American Pharoah worked three in 36:20 (5/22) at SA.
On Feb. 9, American Pharoah worked three in 36:40 (4/12) at SA.
On Feb. 15, American Pharoah worked five in 1.00:40 (10/65) at SA.
On Feb. 21, American Pharoah worked six in 1.12:40 (2/30) at SA.
On Feb. 27, American Pharoah worked seven in 1.23:80 (1/7) at SA.
On March 6, American Pharoah worked six from the gate in 1.10:40 (1/36) at SA.
On March 29, American Pharoah worked five in 58:60 (2/88) at SA.
On April 5, Amerian Pharoah worked six in 1.11:60 (1/25) at SA.
On April 26, American Pharoah breezed five in 58:40 (1/32) at CD.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 4 NOTE: He is expected to resume training this month and put in a workout before February.

Feb. 1 NOTE: He did not put in a workout before February.

Feb. 1 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal: "He looks good, really healthy. Once he missed the Breeders' Cup, we just gave him 60 days off. I think that little break really helped him. He's still the horse. He's pretty special. Just a freaky horse. If he stays healthy, he's going to have a fun spring."

March 13 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said of American Pharoah, “A lot is expected from this horse, and he hasn’t run in a while, but we feel confident that he's going to run well. He just needs some racing luck. (Espinoza) knows the horse. He's a fast horse, but Victor just puts him in the place where he’s comfortable. He’s not a speed freak and he’s not rank. I don’t know how the race will go. I always think about the Seattle Seahawks. Look at that last play. So we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We've been in this situation before. What’s supposed to be the easiest one can be the hardest one to win.”

March 14, Grade II Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/16 Mile. American Pharoah overcame a clumsy break from the gate to take the early lead. From there, he increased his advantage. Under Victor Espinoza, he led at each call to win by 6 1/4 lengths, timed in 1:45.78 after setting splits of :24.41, :49.63, and 1:15.22 on a sloppy, rainy track. American Pharoah partially dislodged his right front shoe when he stumbled out of the gate and ran that way throughout the race. Madefromlucky was on the inside for much of the race and finished second. Bold Conquest was third, followed by The Truth or Else, Paid Admission, Sakima and Tizwonderfulcreek.

Victor Espinoza: “He was very impressive. He’s an amazing horse. The first time I rode him, Bob said he’s the real deal. Bob’s a Hall of Famer, so he knows. Bob was confident, so that made me confident.”

Bob Baffert: "I thought (he) ran great. With the weather and the condition of the track, (he) ran very well.... Victor said that he moved right before they broke, and then he stumbled leaving the gate opened and pulled the right front shoe (partially) off of him. But once he got into the first turn and into his groove, he was galloping. His right front shoe wasn't on right, and when he can run like that all the way around like that, it shows you how good he is. You always hope that he's as good as he's been showing us in the mornings, and he was today. It was the perfect kind of race on the comeback, and it's pretty exciting. You want to see how he comes back and how he trains from here. I'm just glad to get this one out of the way. We've got him back. I feel fortunate to have two really top horses in him and Dortmund. I don't think it was that easy for him. The track was very demanding. We learned a lot from this race because he handled it well, he handled the shipping and he handled the off track.  There is a good chance we might be back for the Arkansas Derby with him."

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Baffert said, “This horse, he does things effortlessly. It wasn’t really taxing on him. It turned out all right. He didn’t have go too fast early. I thought he ran great."

March 20 NOTE: The Arkansas Derby is next. Owner Zayat said, “Timing-wise, (the Arkansas Derby) works best. But also, we don’t ship unless we’re ready. And funny enough, Bob thinks he’s ready today. The horse has been on a tear.” Zayat said American Pharoah “galloped like a freight train” Friday.

March 21 NOTE: “Pharoah has a very efficient, kind of effortless stride. He does things really, really easy. I think he can handle any surface, whether it’s deep, fast, whatever. He’s fast, but he’s not a speed-crazy type."

March 29 NOTE: Santa Anita clockers caught American Pharoah in fractions of :23.40 and :47.20 with a gallop out time of 1:10.80. “Pharoah went really nice,” trainer Baffert said. “He just cruised around there."

April 3 NOTE: Trainer Baffert was asked about American Pharoah after the Santa Anita Derby: “This is the time of the year where we take nothing for granted, we work hard, we have a great team and American Pharoah is doing fantastic. We want to get there in top form and healthy. That’s the battle right there. We have good horses. I can’t believe I’m so fortunate to be in this position with two outstanding 3-year-olds like I have.”

April 5 NOTE: “That (workout) was perfect,” trainer Baffert said. “I got him galloping out in 1:24.80. He’s right on schedule. He does everything real easy. He’ll leave Wednesday for Oaklawn.”

April 6 NOTE: Clocker Toby Turrell on American Pharoah's April 5 workout: “Just when you thought American Pharoah couldn’t step it up, he just did. He added everything to the work with a strength of finish; he added body weight, flesh color, everything you could ask he upped everything. He couldn’t have looked better and couldn’t have done anything better.” Reported at U-T San Diego

April 9 NOTE: “He shipped well and has been doing great since he got there,” trainer Baffert said. “We’re excited about the race and looking forward to it. We’re not thinking about the points. The main thing right now is to take one race at a time. Hopefully, he runs well and comes out of it well. Every time he runs, we learn more and more about him.”

April 10 NOTE: “He’s ready, that’s for sure,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Baffert. The colt visited the paddock and the infield at noon for a schooling lesson. “He’s an amazing horse,” jockey Espinoza said from California. “He’s improving all the time and every time I ride him I learn something new and different that shows me how amazing he is. He has everything a horse needs to win the Kentucky Derby.”

April 11, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/8 Mile. American Pharoah sat off a fast pace, pounced and ran off with a win. He broke well but was content to sit behind Bridget's Big Luvy, who cut out fast fractions of :22.77 and :45.99. Heading toward the far turn, Victor Espinoza asked American Pharoah for more, and he responded, quickly putting away the pacesetter just after six furlongs had gone in 1:10.54.  American Pharoah jumped out to a daylight lead in the turn. By the time he reached the furlong marker, the mile gone in 1:35.94, he was ahead by 5 1/2 lengths. Under a hand ride, American Pharoah increased his margin to eight lengths at the finish. The final time was 1:48.52 for the 1 1/8 mile. Far Right, eighth and last by 13 lengths in the early going, was roused by Mike Smith in the far turn, and he finished well to get past Mr. Z inside the final 1/8 mile and run second. Mr. Z, who was third at each of the first three calls, stayed on and finished 3/4 length behind Far Right, edging Madefromlucky by a neck for the show.

American Pharoah will be shipped directly from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs, making him among the first of the Kentucky Derby contenders to train there.

The chart call: "American Pharoah broke with the field, allowed the leader to go while racing off the inside, continued to stalk in the run up the backstretch, moved at will to collar the leader in the second turn, clear into the lane, drew out as he pleased through the stretch without being asked for his best."

Bob Baffert: "He's amazing horse. With the way he works, he's always been a professional horse from the start. We were hoping he could do something like that and he showed it today. We're so excited about him. He's matured substantially. We just worried about getting a clean break and he did, and then Victor rode him with a lot of confidence. When that other horse got off to that lead, it was either that he's going to rate or he's going to be empty today. He's a good horse and he keeps moving forward. I don't want to get ahead of myself. but Dortmund is another one who we don't yet know how good he is. We're got a one-two punch and that's a good position to be in."

Victor Espinoza: “The way this horse runs is unbelievable. I don’t feel like he’s running that fast and then I look back and he’s so far ahead. He was doing it by himself and doing it easy. I’m excited. It’s the first time I’ve gone into it in back to back years with horses like this. I think I’m even more excited this year. Bob and I go way back. He’s always been a help to me.”

Ahmed Zayat: "I don't know if words can describe what I'm feeling. I am on vacation with my family (in Mexico), and we watched on TV, and we were were all jumping up and down and screaming. I know that he is a very talented and very fast horse, but today he showed us a different dimension. This horse can do anything. He's brilliant."

April 12 NOTE: Reactions at Santa Anita to American Pharoah's win. (1) Jerry Hollendorfer: “Words can’t describe it.” (2) “I liked the way he shut it down," trainer Baffert said. "We thought he might be able to do that, but you don’t know until you actually do it in a race, because the adrenalin’s going through and everything else. He got bumped leaving there a bit, and sometimes that gets them all charged up. But he was just so professional. I couldn’t have been happier the way it turned out. He got some things his own way, but it was good he showed he was not one dimensional; that’s a big plus.”

April 12 NOTE: Jockey Espinoza said,“This was the first time I rode him that he was behind another horse, but I just went by him like he was standing still. Into the stretch, it didn’t feel like I was going that fast, and I was excited. I wanted to let him run a little, but I looked back and I was so far in front, I slowed him down a little bit. He did it all on his own, basically. Bob Baffert didn’t want me to win by that many lengths, but sometimes you can’t help it. I know it’s only three weeks until the Kentucky Derby, and you want to save as much as you can for that race. But with a horse like him, he does things so easy, it was all I could do.”

April 16 NOTE: Jockey Espinoza said, “No, not (any doubt American Pharoah can get 1 1/4 mile). He galloped out very strong in both races and in the last one, I was trying to pull him up and go easy with him, but he was pretty tough. He was full of himself and so the outrider helped me out. I have had all the confidence in him since the first time I rode him at Del Mar. The way he won that day, I just said ‘Wow, he’s an amazing horse.’ I’m more mature now (than I was on War Emblem in 2002). I’m not afraid to make quick decisions during races. I have more confidence now, and in my early years, I would think twice....  Post position is important for everybody....  We’ll just hope for the best.... Everyone scares me. Dortmund, Carpe Diem and a couple others. I see Dortmund every day, and he’s doing really good.”

April 18 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said of American Pharoah: “He’ll breeze once there (at Churchill Downs).... He looks good so far. He hasn’t regressed, either.”

April 20 NOTE: American Pharoah jogged back to the starting gate at the head of the stretch and then galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez after the renovation break.

April 21 NOTE: With trainer Bob Baffert looking on, American Pharoah galloped 1 1/2 mile after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up. Soon after the morning activity was completed, Baffert was headed to the airport to return to his Santa Anita base.

April 22 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 1/2 mile after the renovation break with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez aboard for trainer. American Pharoah is scheduled to work Sunday.

April 23 NOTE: American Pharoah stood in the starting gate and galloped 1 1/2 mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez during the 8:30-8:45 window reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. American Pharoah is scheduled to work Sunday. Two-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza will have the mount.

April 24 NOTE: Arkansas Derby winner American Pharoah galloped 1 1/2 mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez after the morning renovation break. The Pioneerof the Nile colt remains scheduled to work Sunday morning.

April 25 NOTE: Shortly after Dortmund completed a work in California, trainer Baffert caught a flight to Louisville. His other Derby contender, American Pharoah is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, but the work could be moved to Monday if the track isn’t rated fast.
 
With rain in the Louisville forecast on Saturday morning, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes called an audible and sent American Pharoah to the track at 5:45 rather than wait for the time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 8:30. The Arkansas Derby winner galloped 1 ½ mile for exercise rider Jorge Alvarez. “The track was perfect. The weather was good,” Barnes said. “I’d rather just get him out on a good race track and be done with it.”

April 26 NOTE: American Pharoah provided some heat on a cool morning at Churchill Downs Sunday with a bullet workout – the fastest of the day at the distance – covering five furlongs in :58.40 under Martin Garcia.

The Arkansas Derby winner, who is likely to be the betting favorite in the 141st Kentucky Derby, turned in split times of 11.40; 23, 34.60 and 46.40. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.40. It was American Pharoah’s first work since he won the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths on April 11.

“He’s where we want him to be,” trainer Baffert said. “He hasn’t regressed. He looks great. It was pretty exciting to come in here on a nice, cool day, so everything worked out From here on out we have to keep him happy.”

As he typically does, Baffert watched the workout from the grandstand side of the track so he could see the colt run down the stretch to the wire. With Baffert were owner Zayat and his son, Justin, the stable’s racing manager. Baffert was worried about the track conditions because of the rain overnight, but said the surface was in great shape.

Baffert liked what he saw on the track and did not give Garcia any instructions on the walkie talkie.

“He was just clipping along,” Baffert said. “Usually, I talk to him, but I just left him alone. He was doing it in hand, but that’s the way he works. Mr..Zayat was wondering if he was going too fast, but he hasn’t seen him. That’s how he works in California. He does things really effortlessly. He galloped out strong, came back and wasn’t blowing. He handled it well.”

Baffert said the toughest task in the week would be controlling the owner, an enthusiastic, outgoing man who has three Derby candidates with as many trainers. American Pharoah is the most accomplished of the trio and has won four straight by a total of 22 ¾ lengths since his disappointing debut at Del Mar last summer.

“He’s such a nice horse,” Baffert said. “I’m just fortunate that I would lucky enough that he sent him to me and I have him. I could have drawn the short stick and gotten another horse. I’m just happy that he’s given me this horse and has gotten me in this position.”

Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby three times – Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) -- and drew laughter with his response to a question about how he would react to a fourth victory.

“It’s been so long I’ve forgotten,” he said. “That’s the past right there. It was so long ago it doesn’t matter. This horse is totally different than those other horses. Every horse is different. They have a different personality, a different style. He’s made differently. He moves differently than those other horses. He’s a very exciting horse. You’ve all just witnessed the way he trains. That’s been him. When he runs, he shows a dimension. He surprises me every time that I run him. I’m looking forward and hope everything goes well. But he still needs racing luck. You have to get a decent post, you need to break well and get the trip. A lot can happen, so I really don’t take anything for granted.”

Baffert noted that Zayat’s horses have been second in the Derby three times. He referenced the Seattle Seahawks’ loss on a play in the final seconds of the Super Bowl and said you cannot get ahead of yourself in these types of situations.

“I saw the Pete Carroll deal and what he had to go through. I’ve been there,” Baffert said. “Right now we just have to contain ourselves. It’s exciting to be here with two good horses, him and Dortmund. It’s going to be a long week and hopefully it will go quickly. He looks great today. Every day is a different day.”

Zayat said he wanted to look ahead and not spend much time reflecting on the runner-up finishes. “I want to focus on the positive, and there’s a lot,” he said. “I’m very proud of my horse, my horses – I have two others in the Derby. I’m very proud of my trainer. This is one different horse. I don’t how, other than the fact that we bred him. His daddy, Pioneerof the Nile ran in the Derby and almost got it done for us. His mommy, Littleprincessemma, named after my daughter, we raced her, we loved her. He is totally Zayat blood from A to Z. If you want to be in the Derby and you want to come with a horse that you feel would have a decent chance that would be the one. For that, it means a lot for us. It’s a privilege just to be here. It’s a humbling experience.”

April 27 NOTE: American Pharoah had an easy Monday morning the day after turning in a sizzling five-furlong workout in :58.40. The Arkansas Derby winner’s exercise consisted of walking the shedrow at trainer Baffert’s barn.

Owner-breeder Ahmed Zayat and his son, Justin, spent part of the morning doing interviews at Baffert’s barn before driving to the Lexington area to visit some of the family stable’s bloodstock. Justin serves as the stable’s racing manager and said the horses have brought him and his father closer together.

“It became a great bond for us,” he said. “We both found something of mutual interest that we bond over. All day we’re talking horses, me and him. Every single moment of the day we’re talking, we’re debating, we fight, we argue. But at the same time we kind of balance each other out and it causes us to make good business decisions at the end of the day.”

There is no question in the Zayat family about who is in charge and has the final say. “For sure, he’s my boss,” Justin said. “He’s my boss, my mentor, everything to me.”

April 28 NOTE: American Pharoah, breezed at Churchill Sunday, walked Monday and was sent out for what was supposed to be a leisurely jog.  American Pharoah was clearly interested in doing more than jog during his time on the track.

“He was a little fresh,” trainer Baffert said. “He had a walk day and anytime they walk one day they are a little fresh. He looks great. He looks fantastic. He looks really healthy. Their coats look great. It’s a matter of we need some racing luck.”

Baffert was in very good form, too. After his Derby stars returned from the track on the bright, cool morning as he talked with a gathering that included his owners, the breeder of Dortmund, Emilie Gerlinde Fojan, fans and the media. When an international journalist asked why the Kentucky Derby was so special, Baffert was ready.

“Well, it’s one of the few races where we actually have a blimp that day,” he said with a tiny grin. “We get 150,000 people here, there’s so much history and the Kentucky Derby is part of the American culture. It’s one of the top sporting events that we have. So to be part of that history is what makes it so exciting.”

April 29 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 1/2 miles under Jorge Alvarez.

Post Position Reaction – Bob Baffert, trainer -- "It's OK. It's good. Anything but being down there. We talked about being on the outside. I feel like 20 would have been great for me. Out there at least you have a little bit of an option. He's fast. American Pharoah is fast.”  Victor Espinoza -- "I love my post, 18. I feel lucky with that number.”

April 30 NOTE: American Pharoah gallloped 1 1/2 mile. "(He) is pretty quiet and relaxed, pretty professional (in the paddock)," trainer Baffert said. "I don't know what was behind him in the Arkansas Derby. We know that Pharoah is a brilliant horse from what he did in California in the morning. (American Pharoah and Dortmund) are pretty close. It’s incredible. I’m so fortunate. Something just worked out. I believe in fate, and I believe that something really good is about to happen, or else it’s going to be disappointing. It’s something we just have to wait to see it happen. Destiny.”

Baffert said that he hasn’t seen either of his colts breathing hard or tired after training or a race. "We know Pharoah is brilliant from what he’s done. He gallops around there and he really hasn’t had to break a sweat. I just want to get them around there. Turning for home, I’d love to see them one-two. That’s what I’d love to see. Then see what they’re made of Maybe there is another horse. Maybe Carpe Diem is better than them. Or somebody else. You don’t know. That’s why we have this race. I just hope to get a clear shot, not too much traffic and it’s not disastrous. I’ve been here with disastrous trips.”

May 1 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped at 5:45 Friday morning, shortly after the track opened for training. From trainer Baffert’s perspective, the Derby will be won, or lost, in the moments after the gates open. “Our horses are not going to be coming from out of the clouds,” he said. “The break is going to be the key.

“You can’t manage (jockeys),” Baffert said. “If you have to manage the jockey then you’re running the wrong guy.” Victor Espinoza will be aboard American Pharoah, the morning-line favorite. They will leave from post 17. “He rides with a lot of confidence and he’s been here at the big dance,” Baffert said. “It’s up to him. I can’t really tell him anything.”

May 2, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile.  American Pharaoh won the Kentucky Derby by a length over a determined Firing Line. Timed in 2:03.02 for the mile and a quarter, American Pharoah broke well from post 18 and was third in the early running behind honest but reasonable fractions of 23.24, 47.34 and 1:11.29 set by the rail-skimming Dortmund. Firing Line was second through those splits. American Pharoah began his bid on the far turn as Firing Line was moving to even terms with Dortmund. Leaving the turn, Gary Stevens and Firing Line fanned American Pharoah wide, but Victor Espinoza went to work on the winner and they were in command by a head at the eighth pole.

The chart call: "AMERICAN PHAROAH advanced five wide outside rivals passing the wire the first time to gain a tracking position, edged closer continuing five wide past the five eighths pole, came to level terms a quarter mile out, battled outside FIRING LINE before poking a head in front in mid stretch, was brushed when that one came out in deep stretch then edged clear after a prolonged right handed drive."

Bob Baffert: “We were ready to rumble. Since their last works I was hearing how good they were and I was hoping it would come true. I felt very confident going in.”

Victor Espinoza: “I feel like the luckiest Mexican on Earth. He has been a special horse since the first time I rode him. He has a lot of talent and is an unbelievable horse. Turning for home I started riding a little harder. At the eighth pole, I just couldn’t put that other horse (Firing Line) away, but he got it done.”

May 3 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “He was just born with that talent. He has that long stride. He’s quick. He’s got a really good mind. He just floats over the ground. He’s different, just the way he’s made. What we saw yesterday is that he’s not one-dimensional, which is so nice to have. I think with more racing he’s getting smarter. He wasn’t rank with Victor at all. So he can sit there and pounce, run by you and go a mile and a quarter. He is competitive. He wants to win. He knows he’s special.”

May 6 NOTE: Since the Derby, he's been walking the shedrow through today.

May 7 NOTE: Jogged around the track at Churchill Downs.

May 8 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 3/16 mile at Churchill Downs. “Everything went very nice, and we did exactly what Bob told us to do,” said assistant trainer Jim Barnes. “When they walk for four days, they can get a little quiet. You get them back to the track, and they begin to wake up. We didn’t do much this morning. Normally we gallop a mile and a half, and I would imagine we would be back to that distance soon.”

May 8 NOTE: Jockey Espinoza said, “I think the Derby sets him up well for the Preakness; I think he needed that kind of race. He really only had two races for the Kentucky Derby since coming off a layoff, and they were so easy that the Derby was a challenge, but it was a good experience for his next race.”

May 9 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 3/8 mile at Churchill Downs.

May 10 NOTE: American Pharoah jogged to the starting gate at the head of the stretch where he stood and then galloped 1 1/2 mile.

May 10 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, "I haven’t seen anything that would tell me American Pharoah has regressed. Both horses look good, so that means they were pretty fit. Going into the Derby, they were well-conditioned. You have to have good horses and they have to run their race, and they both ran their races and that’s a good sign. I’ve had a lot of success in the Preakness, because I’ve won it with really good horses. I’ve always gone in there and won with the best horse, but you still have to get the trip, the post, everything. You still have to be lucky. I really don’t think about it until after the draw. Then you start trying to figure out strategy. The break is still the most important part. Last year with Bayern, he just got completely eliminated at the start, so you can get eliminated, forget about what kind of horse you have. You never know how they’re going to run. When I got there with Silver Charm, I wasn’t sure how he was going to run, but I had just won the Derby, so I felt if he wins, fine, if he doesn’t, I still won the Derby. I feel good about our horses for the Preakness, but you still need to get around there.”

May 11 NOTE: “I was happy with both of them. It looks like they have kept the same energy level,” trainer Baffert said after the colts galloped 1 1/2 mile following the morning track renovation break. “American Pharoah floated over the ground and picked up his gallop the last half-mile. He wanted to do more. Dortmund got aggressive with Dana and galloped well. Coming out of a big race like the Derby, you don’t have to do too much. It is just a matter of keeping them at the same level. The good horses are easier to train. These two are used to running a lot, and coming back in two weeks is not a big concern with them.”

May 12 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “American Pharoah, he is something to see out there. He just floats over the track. If it rains, we know American Pharoah loves the mud.”

May 13 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “We wait for the draw and get a little tense. Once the draw starts, to me, that’s when it starts, once we have the draw and post positions. Right now this is the lull. This is sort of the last chance you can sort of chill and relax.”

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Baffert said, “I can’t believe I drew the 1-2 of all draws. I’m just glad I didn’t draw that for the Derby. Sometimes you’ve got to give a little. It’s a short field, eight horses. He still has to break well. If he’s the best horse, we’ll find out. (Despite the small field), I don’t like the inside. I never like the one hole. Sometimes they don’t break as well. He’s drawn the one hole before at Santa Anita (in the FrontRunner Stakes). When I was watching the draw and all these numbers were coming up, I go, ‘This is not looking good.’ It’s the luck of draw. We’re there. I don’t love it, but they’ll be easy to watch.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, "American Pharoah, as always, he just floats over the track. He looked very eager. I was really happy with the way they went over it. They looked healthy and bright, in top condition. There is no regressing there. It looks like they are coming up to another big race. I felt really good about it today. We didn’t like the draw. I just hate to see them next to each other like that. It’s something that you can’t change, so you just deal with it. I didn’t lose any sleep over it.

"It’s hard to really gauge the Derby. A lot of horses were struggling (in the Derby). I don’t really think Dortmund brought his A-game and Pharoah probably didn’t bring his Super-A game, but they look really good. It looked like they came out of the race really well. American Pharoah hadn’t had a hard race. That was a good, stiff, hard race for him and it looks like he handled it pretty well. He’s a very exciting horse to watch and the way he moves over the track, he just floats. Pharoah’ had to really work to get by (Firing Line). When (Espinoza) pushed the button he was stuck a little bit. It had me a little bit concerned coming to the quarter-pole. I thought maybe he wasn’t running, he was struggling a little bit, and still wasn’t really responding. He didn’t look like a tired horse. I don’t know if it was the crowd noise or what. A lot of it was that Firing Line was really running hard.

"It’s going to be interesting. What happens going into the first turn will determine everything.”

May 15 NOTE: Justin Zayat said, “(Mr. Z is) a speed horse. I know how tough he is. He can always hang around, but I’m worried about all the competition. We’ve got Firing Line to the outside and Dortmund right next to us. One is not the ideal post position to start from in this scenario, but we’ve got to deal with the cards that were dealt to us. We can’t change it now. For sure, I respect Mr. Z and I know Mr. Z is not a horse who has got cheap speed. He really hangs and fights with you until the end. He can definitely do it to Pharoah. For sure, that’s definitely a concern of mine.”

Regarding American Pharoah: “He’s a horse that is brilliantly fast. He has the talent to do it,” Zayat said. “We just have to pray for a clean break and a clean trip. He definitely can do it. He’s still in this race to win it.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, American Pharoah led through fractions of :22.90, :46.49 and 1:11.42 while being hounded by Mr. Z. Mr. Z began to fade in the far turn. At that point, Dortmund and Divining Rod challenged the winner, but they were easily repelled, and American Pharoah romped home a seven-length winner under a hand ride.American Pharoah was timed in 1:58.46 for the 1 3/16 mile, making it the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Bob Baffert: “What a day for Baltimore. They really needed this after all they’ve been through. I’m really happy for them. I just love coming here. He’s just an amazing horse. Everyone talks about the greatness and it’s just starting to show now. To me, they have to prove it. Today the way he did it, he just ran so fast. Iit was like poetry in motion."

Victor Espinoza: “I was freezing. I was just so wet. It worked out well. I had to bounce out of the gate to take the lead with all the rain. All changed with the rain, but it worked out well I took a chance and sent him as quick as I can. Sometimes you have to make decisions. That's my job. Today, I made the right decision. I hope the third one is the charm.”

The chart call: "AMERICAN PHAROAH was shoved to the lead soon after the break, set the pace removed from the rail, turned back challengers entering the far turn, responded when asked for run in upper stretch, drifted out slightly leaving the eighth pole and eagerly increased his advantage while hand ridden and shown the whip."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

On Sept. 3 in his second start, American Pharoah won the Del Mar Futurity. He was sent to the lead by Victor Espinoza and completed the seven furlong in 1:21.48 while winning by 4 3/4 lengths, about a half-second off the track record set by Goldencents in August.

Bob Baffert: "He was one of my best 2-year-olds coming down to Del Mar. But in his first race he acted up in the post parade, was really a mess and then ran poorly. After that my wife Jill looked at me and said 'That's one of your best 2-year-olds? It's going to be a long summer.' We took the blinkers off, put cotton in his ears and schooled him a lot. He trained well, we decided he was ready and we put him in there. Today, he behaved himself and showed what he could do. He did what we thought he'd do the first time."

Victor Espinoza: "Bob called me this morning and said 'Whatever you do, put him on the lead/ He broke a little slow, but I encouraged him and he made the front. Once he made the lead, I could feel he has that high cruising speed. He's a nice horse. He looks like a nice horse and he feels like one. He could be a good one."

After easily winning the FrontRunner Stakes in a professional manner on the front end with reasonable fractions:

Bob Baffert: “I can’t believe his demeanor, how he’s changed since his first out. He’s so professional. He’s really mentally there. It showed in the way he worked the other day. Steiner worked him and I asked him if he’s worked a horse like this in a while. He used to work all my horses. He said it reminded him of the good ol’ days. The horse just has that extra ‘something.’ What a performance. You’re always hoping for that but you never know what it’s going to be. I was in shock after his first out, and it’s a lot of work by the entire team and it really showed today.

“The second you see them coming around the far turn, the first thing you think is can he go two turns? Right away that’s what you think and when he opened him up and pulled away I knew he can go two turns. He’s different from Pioneerof the Nile. Pioneer took a while to relax. This horse has a lot of brilliance. What I’m noticing is that he’s putting brilliance into his offspring. I think he gets it from his mother who was brilliant (Star of Goshen), I think it’s from her. He doesn’t look like an Empire Maker, either. There’s something there that is making him an unbelievable sire.”

Victor Espinoza: “All the way he was on a high cruising speed. He has such a long stride. He moves really nice and is light on his feet. When (Calculator) got close to me, I encouraged my horse a little. He’s young so I want to teach him that when he hits the stretch it’s time to go. I did, and he moved three or four lengths in front. He’s one of the best 2-year-olds right now.”

Oct. 28 NOTE: American Pharoah was withdrawn from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Trainer Baffert said the colt was a little off after a workout. Diagnostic testing didn't reveal anything, leading Baffert to think a foot bruise is the culprit. Later on, a diagnosis would be revealed.

Bob Baffert: "He's getting better day to day but he's too valuable and we don't want to risk it. Mr. Zayat didn't want to risk it. I've had horses withdrawn before races but this one has to be the most disappointing. We all saw how he was training and he's something special; I haven't had a colt like this in a long time.

"I think he's going to be OK, and he is getting better already, but it's a tough pill to swallow. I've never had a bad day with this horse. It's not soft tissue, it's not bone, but there's something there so we'll just have to deal with it with some more diagnostic evaluation."  

Dec. 18 NOTE: Bob Baffert said American Pharoah is undergoing massage treatment at his Santa Anita barn and is expected to resume training in January. The son of Pioneerof the Nile was scratched four days before the Juvenile due to a deep bruise in his left front leg.

 

 

BODHISATTVA (CA)
Trainer: Jose Corrales
Owner: Jose Corrales
Breeder: Andy Stronach
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Student Council (Kingmambo, Class Kris)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Dr. Cheryl P. (Talk Is Money, Native Roots (IRE))
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-5-11-4-0 (24) 1.53
Foal Date: April 7, 2012


No auction history found.

WORKOUTS
On May 2, Bodhisattva breezed seven in 1:29.00 (1/1) at LRL.
On May 10, Bodhisattva breezed five in 1:04.00 (6/6) at LRL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

On Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 21, Bodhisattva raced at Laurel Park and finished fourth in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes, fourth in the Miracle Wood Stakes and third second in the Private Terms Stakes.

April 18, Frederico Tesio Stakes, Pimlico, 1 1/16 Mile. A strong break from post 6 saw Bodhisattva challenge All Hands for the early lead before taking command as the field left the clubhouse turn, going in :24.95 for the opening quarter-mile. All Hands and jockey Fernando Jara settled in second as they went a half-mile in :49.15. Bodhisattva coasted on and had plenty left in the stretch to turn back Noteworthy Peach and win by 1 1/2 length.

Jose Corrales: “Everybody wishes for that, but I want to see how everything goes from here,” he said. “The horse tells me when he’s going to run next. I don’t pick a race in advance until I find out how a horse is coming out of the race and how he is getting ready for the next one. He ran well today.”

Trevor McCarthy: “It was pretty clear with the soft fractions that we got away with one. I thought he would go with me and I actually yelled to Fernando, ‘Go on with it,’ but he didn’t; he took back. I said, ‘Ok, this is our race. Let’s go for it.’ He went out there with the easy fractions and we actually re-broke at the quarter pole. I was surprised. I mean, I was going slow and thought this was a dream come true. Then, he gave me a new gear at the eighth pole. He really dug in and fought, and I hadn’t seen that side of him before today.”

May 4 NOTE: Owner-trainer Corrales said, “If the possibility comes, I think I will probably run. I will not run a horse just to run the horse. If I don’t feel a horse can run in the first three, why run? That’s the way I think.I think this horse improved from that race. He just keeps improving every time. I think now I’ve got him where I want him. The reason why I scratched him at Parx (on May 2) was because it was too early to run him back and I wanted to work him before I decide what’s going to happen."

May 8 NOTE: Confirmed for the Preakness; galloping at Laurel. Schedule to breeze May 10.

May 11 NOTE: Owner/trainer Corrales said, “We know we’re running with very tough competition. You’re running with the best horses. I broke him at Laurel and I just kept him all the way through. Andy’s my friend and I asked him if he would sell me the horse, not knowing what he could be or whatever. He (Andy Stronach) just said that since I had done so many things for him and his father, ‘I’ll just give it to you’ and he signed a bill of sale.”

May 13 NOTE: Owner-trainer Corrales said, “This horse has got what I think a horse should be. Everything feels OK so far. You go with a mentality that he can compete and you see how he does. Thank God he keeps sound and he keeps improving. I know he’s not 100 percent (potential) yet, but he’s a much better horse now than when he ran at Aqueduct (Remsen Stakes) last year. He was nothing compared to the level he is right now. He’s now mature.”You’ve got to think that these horses from the Kentucky Derby had a lot of preparation to get ready for that race,” he said. “I know they are good horses, but they come here two weeks later and have to travel from Kentucky to Maryland. They are super horses, but super horses also get beat. I have a lot of confidence in this horse.”

Post Position Reaction: Owner-trainer Corrales said, “I like it. I like the outside position better than the inside position. The other two horses inside of me (Dortmund and American Pharaoh) have a lot of speed. My horse used to be a come-from-behind horse, but now he can play either way. It’s a tough race; we’ll see what happens from there.”

Jockey McCarthy said, “I think it’s a great position to be near the middle with the speed down on the fence, which is great. We’ll just have to see how everybody breaks. I haven’t talked to Jose yet to see what the plan is. We’ll go over the race together and see what our plan is.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Corrales said, “He looks good. My horse ran very well here. He really finished strong the last quarter. He’s had a little time since the race, so he’s not tired or anything. You’re competing with the best, so there’s no excuse. I’m in the race, so we’ll see what happens. It’s up to God. You have to remember that he wasn’t born until April. So he’s still learning, but he’s very mature right now. I think the experience has been a good thing for him. He’s never been better than he is right now.”

May 15 NOTE: Owner-trainer Corrales said, “We discussed it a little bit last night with (Trevor McCarthy's father, who’s a former jockey. It’s just a race with a lot of good horses. You have to have a good break and then decide from there where you’re going to be. Trevor’s been riding here, he knows the track, and he’s a young rider. He’s competing the same way I am (as a first-timer). I’ve been in the business a long time, but this is the biggest race I’ve been in. If you don’t have a horse, it doesn’t matter. The horse has to take you there, and this horse right now is at the peak of where he’s supposed to be.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Bodhisattva finished eighth, beaten 48 1/4 lengths after being eased in the stretch. American Pharoah was timed in 1:58.46. It was  the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Jose Corrales: “He didn’t try. One morning in training, behind other horses in the rain I ran him and he didn’t even try.  Same today. I was praying he wouldn’t be behind, but he was behind from the start.  It wasn’t the race we were expecting.  The race was like nothing, but life goes on. We tried and I hope we are in this position again, but at the front end next time.”

Trevor McCarthy: “He just spun his wheels out there today. He never could get a hold of it. He was really crazy out there at first. In the middle of the race the weather actually started to settle down. Today just wasn’t his day. On a normal day, he would have been closer. He was just hard to handle.”

The chart call: "BODHISATTVA showed some speed, was two wide the first turn, asked for his run entering the backstretch, gave way on the far turn and was eased through the stretch."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

The well-traveled Bodhisattva raced seven times at Penn National, Timonium, Delaware Park, Laurel Park and Aqueduct. He finished third his first three starts, then broke his maiden fourth time out going about 1 1/16 mile at Laurel. He finished third again in a Laurel allowance; was fifth, beaten 11 1/2 lengths in the Remsen Stakes; and finished up the year with a win at Laurel going a mile at 3-2 odds.

May 12 NOTE: Trainer Corrales said, “He’s doing great. I don’t know if he’s going to run a big race or what, but so far everything’s going good."

 

 

DANZIG MOON (ON)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Owner: John Oxley
Breeder: William D. Graham
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy, Macoumba)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Leaveminthedust (Danzig, Hidden Reserve)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 13-9-18-0-0 (40) 3.44
Foal Date: March 24, 2012


$160,000 Keeneland September 2013.

WORKOUTS
On Feb. 21, Danzig Moon breezed four in 49:15 (18/61) at PMM.
On Feb. 28, Danzig Moon breezed five in 1.00:25 (5/25) at PMM.
On March 21, Danzig Moon breezed five in 59:50 (2/24) at PMM.
On March 27, Danzig Moon breezed four in 47:60 (1/19) at PMM.
On April 18, Danzig Moon breezed five in :58.00 (1/57) at CD.
On April 24, Danzig Moon breezed four in 48:80 (31/76) at CD.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Feb. 7, Maiden Special Weight, Gulfstream Park, One Mile. Strongly favored at 3-2 odds, Danzig Moon kicked away from 11 rivals to win by 4 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:38.09. This was a weak field that was strung out all the way to Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

Assistant trainer Norm Casse: “We really think a lot of this horse. He was one of a handful that I had that I really thought had some talent. He had to have a little break because he had a foot abscess. When I got him back he was even better than he was before. It’s very encouraging and very rewarding, and vindicates what we thought. Hopefully he just gets better from here. He got away bad in his last start, and if you go back and watch the race we were actually 10 lengths in front of the rest of the field that day. I have a lot of respect for the horse that beat us that day, as well. This horse has actually gotten better since then, which is very, very encouraging. I’m very excited to see where he goes next.”

March 7, Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 Mile. Carpe Diem inhaled pace-setter Divining Rod at the top of the stretch and rolled to a five-length victory over the late-running Ami’s Flatter, with Divining Rod holding on for third and Danzig Moon passing tired horses for fourth. Ocean Knight, the Sam F. Davis Stakes winner and second-betting favorite at 8-5, inexplicably faded to seventh in the eight-horse field, beaten 29 1/4 lengths. Carpe Diem completed the race in 1:43.60, only .49 seconds off Street Sense’s stakes record set in 2007. Carpe Diem sat a couple of lengths back of Divining Rod's :23.10 and :46.65 before securing the lead in 1:11.35.

April 4, Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland, 1 1/8 Mile. Ocho Ocho Ocho shot from post 1 to the lead as promised, but Carpe Diem hounded him every step of the way to the top of the stretch and then drew away to win in 1:49.77 under John Velazquez. Carpe Diem was three lengths better than the late-running Danzig Moon. Ocho Ocho Ocho hung on for third, another 2 1/2 lengths back and 1 3/4 lengths better than fourth finisher Frammento. Classy Class was fifth, followed by Gorgeous Bird, Unrivaled and Pepper Roani. Ocho Ocho Ocho set fractions of :24.15, :48.05 and 1:12.18, but at the furlong marker, Carpe Diem led the pacesetter by 3 1/2 lengths, with Danzig Moon poised to gain second.

The chart call: "Danzig Moon was well placed early along the six path, stayed in the six path in the far turn, made a bid in the stretch but was no match for the winner in the late stages."

Julien Leparoux: “He made a big run from the three-eighths pole and he galloped out great, so that’s a good sign. It was a good race. Yes (he is a Kentucky Derby contender) and he proved it today by running a big second here.”

Norman Casse, assistant trainer: “He ran a big race and with a better trip we might have been even closer. I’m just glad the real Danzig Moon showed up today and showed that he’s a serious racehorse. This race is redeeming because we thought he had a big shot at Tampa.  and he ran a bad fourth. But I think he just didn’t handle the track that day and today is a better indication of his ability. I’m sure we’ll take him over to Churchill and see where he stands and how he’s doing.”

THE NEXT DAY: Sarah Campion, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, said Danzig Moon came out of the race well and most likely will ship to Churchill on Monday to join the Casse string.

April 18 NOTE: Trainer Casse said of Danzig Moon,  “We usually reserve our two-weeks-out works to be our big works and, unfortunately, I think he got a little overzealous leaving the pony. He’s a fast horse and he worked fast, and Julien recognized that and really didn’t ask him to do too much afterwards (in the gallop-out. We know he likes the racetrack, and the horse he worked with is a very, very talented horse. The horse that worked (the workmate_ is running on Derby Day as well. We purposely worked them together because they basically have the same target: different races, but on the same day. Had he not gotten away and ran-off the first bit, the overall time wouldn’t have been nearly as fast. But it’s OK. I’ve already gone over him and already jogged him by hand, and we did a post-breeze scope and all those things are perfect. That’s the important thing.”

April 20 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped a mile and a half after the morning renovation break under exercise rider William Cano after working on Saturday. He's scheduled to work Saturday with Julien Leparoux up.

April 21 NOTE: Danzig Moon visited the paddock and then galloped 11/2 mile under exercise rider William Cano after the morning renovation break. Danzig Moon is scheduled to work Saturday.

April 22 NOTE: Danzig Moon stood in the starting gate and then galloped 1 1/2 mile after the break under exercise rider William Cano. Danzig Moon is scheduled to work Saturday.

April 23 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped 1 1/2 mile after the morning break with exercise rider William Cano up. Norman Casse, assistant to his father, said Saturday’s planned work could be pushed back to Sunday depending on the weather.

April 24 NOTE: Assistant trainer Norm Casse said."We're very, very pleased with the work; we got exactly what we wanted. Things couldn't be better. We didn't want him to be too strong, but we didn't want to send him out the first time today without a workmate."

April 24 NOTE: With Julien Leparoux aboard, Danzig Moon worked a half-mile in company in :48.80. Working with maiden winner Bollente, Danzig Moon posted fractions of :12.80, :25, :37 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.80. Casse said Danzig Moon would walk Saturday and return to the track Sunday. A paddock schooling session is scheduled for Wednesday.
“We just decided to get the work done and not worry about it,” assistant trainer Norman Casse said. “He always works in company and we just wanted a good, even work. His preparation could not be any better, and I feel he has moved up since the Blue Grass. Other than the Tampa Bay Derby, he has run well every time. There were two reasons for the Tampa Bay results; one, he didn’t handle the track at all and came back with cuts on his hind legs, and two or three days after that he came down with a virus that may have affected the performance.”

April 25 NOTE: Danzig Moon walked the shedrow a day after work a half-mile in :48.80 under Derby rider Julien Leparoux. Norman Casse, assistant to his father trainer Mark Casse, had opted to work Danzig Moon under clear skies Friday rather than take a chance on a dicey Saturday forecast.

“If we had waited, it would have been a monsoon,” Casse said with a laugh under a light drizzle that did not turn into a deluge until 9:30. “At least we got it out of the way.”  Casse said Danzig Moon would return to the track Sunday morning.

April 26 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped a mile and half after the morning renovation break with exercise rider William Cano up. It was the first day back on the track for the Blue Grass Stakes runner-up since working a half-mile in :48.80 on Friday.

“He went pretty well this morning and tomorrow he will probably go to the paddock,” said Norman Casse, assistant to father.

Danzig Moon was on the track the same time that American Pharoah was working.

“I saw him go by at the three-eighths pole and it looked like he was moving along pretty good,” Casse said with a laugh. “There have been plenty of circumstances in the past when something or another happens to a standout and somehow they get beat. We were kind of laughing about coming back watching all the people around Baffert this morning. I’d rather have all those people with us after the race.”

April 27 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider William Cano for trainer Mark Casse after the morning renovation break.  Casse arrived in Louisville last night from Ocala where he had been attending sales. “He looked good this morning,” Casse said. “I have been watching him every morning when the works are streamed online. This is a great Derby with a lot of tough horses. But this is home for him and now they have to come play in his house. We’ve felt that he is a special horse from Day One. It has just taken him a long time to prove. It would be nice if he showed it Saturday. In terms of raw talent, he has more than Seaside Retreat and Prospective.” Danzig Moon will be Casse’s third Derby starter. Seaside Retreat finished 10th in 2006 behind Barbaro and Prospective was 18th in 2012 behind I’ll Have Another.

April 28 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break with exercise rider William Cano aboard for trainer Mark Casse.

The son of Malibu Moon galloped the same distance on the main track Monday as well. Norman Casse, his father’s assistant, has been working with the colt since he made his career debut last fall and pointed out that while he always had been pleased with the horse's physical ability, he had difficulty breaking from the gate.

"I think he has always had a tremendous amount of physical talent,” Casse said. “I just think that as a 2-year-old he was not mentally his sharpest and that's why he would break bad."

"He got a little break at our farm and when he came back to Palm Meadows, he was much more aggressive and much more into what he was doing and I think that mentally he's gotten better,” Casse said. “That's what I have seen development wise."

A lifelong Louisville resident, Casse discussed some of his personal favorite Derby memories growing up in town that included Thunder Gulch's Derby victory in 1995, the first Derby Casse attended. However, he said that Smarty Jones' Derby triumph in 2004 was by far his favorite.

"Smarty Jones was a horse that was different,” Casse said. “After he had won the Derby and we were walking around the grandstand, there was a buzz going on about him and I fell in love with him. That's what really got me started in this capacity, so Smarty Jones has definitely been my favorite."

April 29 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break with exercise rider William Cano up. “He went very well this morning,” trainer Casse said.

With the post position draw looming this afternoon, Casse was asked what he would prefer with Danzig Moon. “Ideally, somewhere in the middle,” Casse said. “For us, it is not as crucial as it is for some other horses. If I had to be inside or outside, I’d prefer inside. He needs to get the perfect trip and needs to save ground.”

“This is a good group of horses,” said Julien  Leparoux, who will be riding in his eighth Derby. “Danzig Moon is an improving horse and you never know.”

Leparoux, 31, had his best finish in his first Derby in 2007 with Sedgefield, who finished fifth behind Street Sense. He has been a regular on the Kentucky circuit for the past 10 years, save for a few forays to Southern California.

“I was riding at Keeneland a few years before there was Polytrack,” Leparoux said of the all-weather surface that was installed for the Fall 2006 meet and replaced last year. “I got in the gate for the first race Saturday night and I felt like the old man in there with a bunch of kids. They were all in their 20s!”

Post Position Reaction – Mark Casse, trainer – “Post position five isn’t the middle, but with this post position we can sit in the back of the pack and come from behind. We’re not unhappy with the post.”

April 30 NOTE: Danzig Moon galloped 1 ½ mile after the renovation break under exercise rider William Cano for trainer Casse. The runner-up in the Blue Grass Stakes has made a favorable impression among onlookers in the mornings and has emerged as a bit of a buzz horse this week.

“I certainly hope he has,” Casse said. “I am not really a good predictor, but he was super this morning and he hasn’t had a bad day. I do know that in a 20-horse field, you have got to have some luck. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the horses in the race, but if American Pharoah breaks a step slow, he is going to find himself in a situation that he has not faced before.”

Danzig Moon drew post position five for Saturday’s race. “Julien and I talked about it and the five is OK,” Casse said. “We need everything to go our way, and that would have been harder from the outside.”

May 1 NOTE: Danzig Moon followed his regular morning routine by galloping 1 ½ miles under exercise rider William Cano. Danzig Moon was on the track at 5:45 during the early Oaks Day morning period for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks entrants. Trainer Casse said the runner-up in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start would gallop in the morning. Listed at 30-1 on the morning line, Danzig Moon will break from post position five under Julien Leparoux.

 Casse, who will be saddling his third Kentucky Derby starter, was asked what he would like to see in Saturday’s race to enhance the chances of Danzig Moon.  “I would like to see a fast pace and have us be about 10 lengths behind,” Casse said.”Hopefully the pace comes apart at the seams and we can pick them up.”

May 2, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Danzig Moon finished fifth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths by American Pharoah and a time of 2:03.02. The chart call: "DANZIG MOON steadied while exchanging bumps with BOLO when in tight between rivals heading towards the first turn, recovered to take closer order two wide, moved out a path and gained under a ride mid way on the final turn, continued willing pursuit to mid stretch then wilted."

Mark Casse, trainer of Danzig Moon, fifth – “I tell you Julien [Leparoux] rode him great, he put him in position to win. He just wasn’t good enough today, but I’m still very proud of him.”

Julien Leparoux: “He was running good we got pushed back a little bit in the first turn, but actually that ended up being perfect because we sat up front around the first turn and second turn. We had a real good trip."

May 3 NOTE: Trainer Casse didn't rule out the Preakness for Danzig Moon, but the  Queen's Plate is the prime target for the Ontario-bred. “We’ll take a look at the Preakness. The Queen’s Plate is not until July 5. We probably won’t talk about it for a day or two," he said. “He broke sharper than we thought he would,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse. “He got caught in the rush to the first turn. He just happened to be caught in the middle of it. A lot of horses would have spit the bit there, but once he got clear, he got comfortable. I am proud of him. I had a little flutter at the top of the stretch to think we might have a chance to win this thing. He only got beat 6 1/2 lengths.”

May 6 NOTE: Assistant trainer Casse said they'll have to wait and see how he trains.

May 8 NOTE: Galloped at Churchill Downs. Said to be 50-50 for the Preakness.

May 9 NOTE: Confirmed for the Preakness. “We are going,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse. “He came out of the Derby really well and deserves one more chance.” Julien Leparoux was aboard in the Derby will retain the mount for the Preakness, according to Casse. “We made the decision last night, but we wanted to give him another day to train before making the announcement,” Casse said. "He trained great this morning going a mile and a half in the first set.” Casse said Danzig Moon will have the day off Sunday and then gallop at Churchill Downs the next three mornings before shipping to Baltimore Wednesday after training hours.

May 10 NOTE: Danzig Moon had a scheduled walk day at his barn at Churchill Downs. Asked about possible rain on Preakness day, “I would prefer it to be fast for Pimlico, so they can have a good day,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said. “He 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.”

May 11 NOTE: Assistant trainer Casse said, “They were better than he was on Derby Day, but we feel that he is getting better all the time.” Danzig Moon is scheduled to gallop the next two mornings and ship to Baltimore Wednesday.

May 12 NOTE: Trainer Casse said, “He’s a talented horse. He likes to do what he does, and if you’re not careful he can get a little too ambitious. The thing is, though, he will rate in a race.”

May 13 NOTE: Danzig Moon ran into traffic during his Derby journey. Trainer Casse said, “I mean that’s one of the reasons we’re coming,” Casse said. “He got knocked around pretty good in the Derby, but he’s a fighter. You always like smaller fields; there’s less horses you have to beat. Normally there’s less traffic in the Preakness, so we’re looking forward to a little smaller field.”

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Casse said, “I thought it was a great post. We know they’re all going to outrun us, so hopefully we can tuck in. Hopefully the rail’s good and we can come with a good run.”

May 14 NOTE: Assistant trainer Casse said, “I actually think he’ll like this track a little more than Churchill. Churchill is its own track, but I actually think he’ll like deeper race tracks – tracks like here, tracks like Saratoga. He really likes Palm Meadows and this is very similar.

"I was watching (the Derby) from the apron and I could tell when they went under the wire the first time that he was in a bit of trouble. I was a little nervous about that, but as soon as he got clear I saw him grab hold of the bridle and I knew he’d be all right. Going past the half-mile pole when he went by Carpe Diem I thought, ‘Man, we’re really gonna run a big race here.’ And we did, but obviously we’ve got to move forward off that to win the Preakness.

“I think we haven’t seen his best race yet. I think it’s taken him a little while to figure out exactly what his job is and being a race horse. But I think seeing how aggressive he was in the Derby is kind of a testament to where he is now mentally. Before, you had to ride him a little more. He had the talent; but you had to teach him. Now he’s doing things on his own, and I think it will make him a better race horse. We put blinkers on him immediately because he wasn’t focused at all.

“We gave him a few days where he only galloped a mile instead of a mile and a half, just trying to get his energy level back up, but he really never waned. He’s trained just as good for this race as he did for the Derby, and a lot of people were excited about the way he was training for the Derby, so I’m excited about the way he’s training now. We feel like we deserve another chance.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Casse said, “Normally the day before, we go straight out and have an easy mile or mile and a quarter. That’s what he did today. He likes it here. Well, I’ve already started praying. Norman called me yesterday and he goes, ‘I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. The good news is our horse trained great. The bad news is so did (American Pharoah and Dortmund).’

“To me, post position for us meant nothing. But boy, I have to admit I smiled a little when American Pharoah went to No. 1, because to me, what does Martin Garcia do? If he runs head-and-head with Bob’s other horse  – I understand they’re different owners – but he rides for Bob Baffert. If those two hook up … I don’t see that happening.

“Does that mean that American Pharoah goes or Dortmund goes? If Dortmund goes, you’re going to have Gary Stevens licking his chops because he’s going to keep American Pharoah down in there. If Victor Espinoza yells to Martin Garcia ‘I’m here,’ will Martin Garcia come off the rail and let American Pharoah go? And us, we just sit back and hope it all happens.

“In the Derby, Julien needed to hustle Danzig Moon away from there to get position, and when he did he really put him on the bridle and that’s why he ran into that trouble going into the first turn,” Casse said. “I think tomorrow we just fall out of there, and I think if he does that, he’ll be a little bit more relaxed. We’ve just got to hope for a battle royal up front and save ground and come with a run. We look like we’re one of the few horses that can come with some type of a run.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Danzig Moon finished sixth, beaten 18 1/4 lengths by American Pharoah and time of 1:58.46. It was  the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Mark Casse: “I never saw him. It was pretty bad. He hasn’t stopped coughing since he came back. That happens when they eat all that stuff. God decided he wanted to rain on it, so what do you want to do? It’s just frustrating. You work and work and work to get him ready, and you just want to have a shot at a fair race. If they beat you, they beat you. Look, American Pharoah is a good horse, and I think he has a shot at the Triple Crown.”

Julien Leparoux: “It was OK, not what we needed. The horse kind of struggled out there a little bit and flattened out at the end a little bit. I don’t think the track was to his liking but other than that it was OK.”

The chart call: "DANZIG MOON steadied in close quarters along the rail entering the first turn, saved ground around the first turn, failed to be a factor and was three wide turning for home."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Danzig Moon finished sixth in his debut going six furlongs at Keeneland. In his second start, he ran second at one mile at Churchill Downs. He hit the gate and lost by 1 1/2 length to Island Town but was 7 3/4 lengths better than the third finisher Fivetotwo. The chart call from that second race: "Danzig Moon broke slow, was unhurried into stride, moved with the winner five wide, was unable to match strides with Island Town but clearly proved the best of the rest."

 

 

DIVINING ROD (KY)
Trainer: Arnaud Delacour
Owner: Lael Stables
Breeder: Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Precious Kitten (Catienus, Kitten's First)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-9-13-1-0 (28) 2.73
Foal Date: March 30, 2012


WORKOUTS
On Feb. 14, Divining Rod breezed four in 48:80 (8/46) at TBD.
On Feb. 22, Divining Rod breezed six in 1.14:60 (2/2) at TBD.
On March 2, Divining Rod breezed four in 50:00 (31/48) at TBD.
On March 21, Divining Rod breezed four in 49:80 (24/48) at TBD.
On March 28, Divining Rod breezed five in 1.02:80 (3/11) at TBD.
On April 5, Divining Rod breezed four in 48:40 (18/86) at KEE.
On April 25, Divining Rod breezed five in 1.03:00 (21/26) at FAI.
On May 2, Divining Rod breezed five in 1.00:80 (2/18) at FAI.
On May 9, Divining Rod breezed four in 51:60 (31/32) at FAI.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 31, Sam F. Davis Stakes, Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 Mile. At 8-5 odds, Ocean Knight finished first by a neck over 28-1 Divining Rod with a time of 1:43.74. After a quarter-mile, Divining Rod and Luis Garcia took over the lead from Catalina Red and set fractions of :48.75 and 1:12.97. He still led at the furlong marker but could not withstand a late rush from Ocean Knight, who was wide in third during much of the running after breaking from post 11.

Arnaud Delacour: “I’m very happy. I thought he ran great and he was much more professional than he had been before. I thought we could get there, but (Ocean Knight) came with a strong run.”

Luis Garcia: “I thought we were going to win it. He relaxed for me on the lead and we were able to set a good pace. I asked him nearing the stretch and we were clear, but in the late going it wasn't like he tired, but the other one was just too much. But he is still learning the game; and he will learn from the race. A second in a graded stakes in just his third start is not so bad!”

March 7, Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 Mile. March 7, Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 Mile. Carpe Diem inhaled pace-setter Divining Rod at the top of the stretch and rolled to a five-length victory over the late-running Ami’s Flatter, with Divining Rod holding on for third, beaten 7 1/2 lengths, and Danzig Moon passing tired horses for fourth, beaten 12 1/2 lengths. Ocean Knight, the Sam F. Davis Stakes winner and second-betting favorite at 8-5, inexplicably faded to seventh in the eight-horse field, beaten 29 1/4 lengths. Carpe Diem completed the race in 1:43.60, only .49 seconds off Street Sense’s stakes record set in 2007. Carpe Diem sat a couple of lengths back of Divining Rod's :23.10 and :46.65 before securing the lead in 1:11.35. Divining Rod ran with bar shoes due to quarter cracks.

THE NEXT DAY: Arnaud Delacour said he and the Jacksons will probably make a decision later in the week on whether to meet the late Triple Crown nominating deadline.

April 15 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “Yes, I’m thinking of the Preakness. The timing seems right. It’s five weeks after the Lexington. We had the Preakness in mind before we entered in the Lexington, hoping he would step up to that caliber of horses. His win in the Lexington was very encouraging. I was very pleased because he really did it the right way. He took back a little bit, just relaxed there and came with a big run in the stretch, so that was pretty exciting. He came back very well from it.”

April 11, Grade III Coolmore Lexington Stakes, Keeneland, 1 1/16 Mile. With bar shoes a thing of the past, Divining Rod's feet have improved, and so has he. After breaking from post 1, he saved ground under Julien Leparoux and settled into a competition for second position as Fame and Power set the pace in an honest :24.03 and :47.90. Midway down the back, Henry Jones began backing away while Fame and Power continued to lead the way. Heading into the far turn, Donworth was in closest pursuit of Fame and Power while Divining Rod was two lengths off the pace with six furlongs run in 1:12.66. Rounding the turn, Divining Rod held position inside while Fame and Power and Donworth stayed in contention. Leparoux swung out Divining Rod three wide into the stretch, and he quickly surged to the lead. Divining Rod finished three lengths the best, and Donworth nosed out Fame and Power for the place. They preceded Comfort by a length and three-quarters, with  Henry Jones, Tiznow R J and Quimet far back. The winning time was 1:43.29.

Arnaud Delacour: "That’s another dimension to the horse. He just took back; (Leparoux) thought there’d be plenty of pace. The horse relaxed well and was great with the kickback, and he came with a big kick at the end. Today he was very professional and I’m glad he’s learning with each start. We’ll have to see how he comes back. We’ll make up our minds after that. One race at a time. We’ll consider (the Kentucky Derby) for sure.”

Julien Leparoux: "He was very professional, very relaxed. We knew there were a couple of horses with speed in there, and we wanted to teach him something. He was very proficient and very relaxed behind. The dirt didn’t bother him at all, and he finished up very strong.”

THE NEXT DAY: There is a hint that Divining Rod might be pointed to the Preakness, but nothing beyond that. Trainer Delacour said, “We are just going to take it one race at a time. I run my last horse here on the 19th and then will go back to Fair Hill. With his turf pedigree, that is why we tried the grass although it didn’t work out so well. We would not be opposed to trying the turf again, but for now we will stay with what we have on the dirt.”

May 4 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “The horse is doing very well. He breezed on Saturday, and right now I am leaning toward the Preakness. I think he’s great. I don’t want to jinx myself, but at the moment he’s doing very well. He has matured quite a bit and he understands more now what’s going on. The race in the Lexington was a very good confidence booster for him. I think he put it all together, that he needed to relax and finish, and I think that really helped him. Regarding his recent workout: “He started nice and easy, he was relaxed and he really kicked on at the end. That’s the kind of work that you like to see when you go to a race that’s going longer. I was very pleased with it. The first three horses (in the Derby) I would say are going to be very tough to take on, but the thing is they all had a pretty hard race. They all had to fight for it. I didn’t see any of them having to do it easy, so I hope that they’re going to maybe be a little bit tired coming back in two weeks.”

May 6 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “I think he came back well. We gave him two easy weeks where we trained him lightly and let him get his level of energy back. That worked out great. He’s had two breezes since – one easy breeze and last week was a more significant breeze. I was pleased with both, really.  I think he’s really fit now and is ready to go. We just need to keep him doing well all the way to the Preakness.”

May 8 NOTE: Co-owner Gretchen Jackson said, after noting Divining Rod "likes himself a lot," that connections were surprised at the way he ran in the Lexington Stakes. “The transition that was made in the Lexington was that he didn't come out of the gate and have to be on the front end, streaking around the racetrack. He was able to be brought back and kept close to the pace, but then he ran on and he showed tactical speed. He showed relaxation and a certain maturity. He stunned us all.”

May 9 NOTE: Today's work deemed a maintenance move by trainer Delacour. Divining Rod will be shipped to Pimlico on May 14. “He just stretched his legs out there, and that’s kind of what we wanted. He had a good breeze last week,” Delacour said. “Everything has been going well with him. He’s happy and came back in good shape. It’s been a pretty uncomplicated preparation. We’ve had no setbacks, no major issues, so I feel good about it. Of course, it’s a big race. It’s a step up. It’s not an easy race, but as far as the preparations and the way he looks I’m very happy with everything. We’re going to enjoy the day, try to give our best shot and hopefully have a good outcome.”

May 10 NOTE: 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. Trainer 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 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.

May 11 NOTE: At Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., Divining Rod galloped. “He’s doing very well. I think he came back in good shape from his breeze. He galloped this morning and looked very good,” said trainer Delacour.

May 12 NOTE: Divining Rod galloped 1 1/4 mile on the Tapeta track at Fair Hill, then schooled in the gate. Trainer Delacour said he decided to use the synthetic surface instead of the dirt track because it rained overnight. Trainer Delacour said, “I’m very interested to see how he will handle the step up in competition and the stretchout. I’m a lot more confident after the Lexington about his ability to do both. I think the horse has started to understand it a little bit. This is the time of the year that a 3-year-old should start showing that experience. What I hope is going to make the difference now is that the horse can still break well and get a position – that he doesn’t have to make the lead and can sit off the pace a little bit if he needs to. That will be up to the jock and why we have that kind of rider.”

May 13 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “He’s doing great. He galloped a mile and a half on the dirt track this morning. It was in perfect condition. I was very happy with everything. He cooled out OK. So far, so good.” Delacour said that the colt will gallop again on Thursday morning before vanning to Pimlico Race Course.

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Delacour said, “I’m kind of happy with that. There is a lot of speed on the inside with American Pharoah and Dortmund. We should be able to get a position, sit off the pace and see what happens.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “That (rating behind horses) wasn’t a surprise because we had obviously breezed him behind horses in the past before the Lexington, and he took it very well. That wasn’t a surprise, but we wanted to see that kind of race, which we hadn’t seen before. I must say that everything worked out perfect for us. There was some fast enough fractions, like :47-and-change, for him to get to relax. That worked out very well for us. I’m glad I wasn’t in (the Derby), because that’s a tough race, a [big] field.. To take on those kind of horses, those are the best 3-year-olds in North America, to me it was better to take them on with the right amount of time between races and in an eight-horse field rather than a [big] field in the Derby.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Delacour said, “He was looking around, just being curious (galloped 1 1/4 mile first time at Pimlico). That’s the type of horse he is. I’m very happy with everything. It was a pretty uneventful preparation. Everything was on schedule. Every breeze, the weather was beautiful. Hopefully, we can have a good trip. I don’t know if we can beat him, but it’s nice to come to see if we fit with these kind of horses.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Divining Rod finished third, beaten eight lengths, after challenging the pacesetting, victorious American Pharoah on the far turn. The winning time was 1:58.46. It was the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Arnaud Delacour: “We are very happy with that, being third in a Grade 1 in the Preakness. He was right there with a great trip, and thanks for Castellano for that, because he gave him a great ride.”

Javier Castellano: “It was quite a bit tougher for us today under these conditions than it should have been.”

The chart call: "DIVINING ROD, close up three wide the first turn, angled in approaching the five eighths pole, advanced along the rail mid way on the far turn, eased out to the three path turning for home, chased the winner, weakened and drifted out near the sixteenth pole."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Divining Rod raced twice at age two, both times entered in turf races. In a one-mile race taken off the turf at Laurel, he won by 2 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:39. He was again entered on turf, this time going 1 1/16 mile at Tampa Bay Downs, and he finished third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths after having to wait for an opening leaving the turn.

 

 

DORTMUND (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc.
Breeder:  Emilie Gerlinde Fojan
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Big Brown (Boundary, Mien)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Our Josephina (Tale of the Cat, Ropa Usada)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-5-13-0-0 (22) 2.38
Foal Date: Feb. 7, 2012


$140,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2014.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 4, Dortmund worked four in 48:60 (23/75) at SA.
On Jan. 14, Dortmund worked six in 1.12:20 (1/28) at SA.
On Jan. 21, Dortmund worked seven in 1.23:40 (1/3) at SA.
On Jan . 28, Dortmund worked five in 59:40 (2/27) at SA.
On Feb. 3, Dortmund worked four in 47:60 (3/27) at SA.
On Feb. 19, Dortmund worked four in 49:00 (19/34) at SA.
On Feb. 26, Dortmund worked seven in 1.25:60 (1/1) at SA.
On March 21, Dortmund worked six in 1.12:00 (1/16) at SA.
On March 28, Dortmund worked six in 1.11:60 (1/22) at SA.
On April 18, Dortmund worked five in 58:80 (1/59) at SA.
On April 25, Dortmund breezed six in 1:13.60 (12/21) at SA.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 4 NOTE: Trainer Baffert recently said Dortmund reminds him of Point Given.

Jan. 16 NOTE: “He’s relaxing,” trainer Baffert said in reference to the Jan. 14 workout. “He’s not there yet. We’ve got a ways to go."

Feb. 4 NOTE: “He went really well,” trainer Baffert said of the Feb. 3 workout. “He was just cruising around there. He looked good. He’s ready.”

Feb. 7, Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. Dortmund pressed the pace set by Tizcano, took the lead on the backstretch, was soon joined by Firing Line, and the race was on. In mid-stretch Firing Line took a one-length lead only to see Dortmund come back on him and win by a head. Race-horse time of 1:42.20, a really great race.

Bob Baffert: “He was pretty sharp today. In the paddock, he was pretty sharp and I knew he was going to want to go. I had this race penciled in and I wanted him to run well so maybe I could skip other races and wait for the Santa Anita Derby.

“Turning for home, when (Firing Line) came up on him, for an instant I felt like Bill Belichick of the Patriots. I thought, ‘Oh, man, that’s too bad.’ It looked like that horse was going to go by him, but then he’s such a fighter, he just kicked in. You really don’t know about these horses until you put them in that scenario, and that’s twice now that he just fought and came on to win like that. That was him. When they opened up on the field, I said it was a match race now. Firing Line is a really nice horse.

“It was exciting, because I thought we were beat, and when he came back like it made me really appreciate it a lot more. It makes it sweeter because going in I thought he was the best horse, then that horse went by him and I thought maybe he’s not as good as I thought. This was a point when you find out, ‘Shall I stay on the bus or get off at the stop.’

“It was a great horse race and I’m just fortunate I was on the winning end. Silver Charm, he was a fighter and fought really hard like that. It was good to win this race for Beverly Lewis, who is here today.”

Martin Garcia: “He’s a really good horse. He’s just a big baby; he’s still learning. I broke sharp and I put myself in a good position. When I asked him to go he started moving slowly. It looked like Firing Line went by me but in the end, when I asked him, my horse started coming back. Firing Line gave us pressure but my horse just took off again.”

Kaleem Shah, owner: “We thought it was a two-horse race going in and that’s what happened. Arnold Zetcher (owner of runner-up Firing Line) is a very good friend. It was very tough, but it’s the Red, White and Blue (stable colors) that got my horse through. We’ll probably run in the San Felipe next.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Baffert said, “Dortmund looked really good at the barn afterwards. I was surprised, because after the Los Alamitos race, he was tired. After this race he was a pretty happy dude. It was a good race for him. We’ll look at the Santa Anita Derby or we could go out of town.”

Feb. 27 NOTE: As reported by Bloodhorse.com on Feb. 26, trainer Baffert said, "His last two works have really been his best works. I think the light finally went on. I think he's finally figuring out how he's supposed to do it. I've been waiting for it. He has been getting it done, because he's a good horse, but the light is just going on now. He went off by himself, but it worked out great, because he left the three-quarter pole and (another) horse left the five-eighths, It was good for him, because (Martin Garcia) grabbed him, made him slow down, and let the other horse go. He tracked really well and that's the whole thing—he hasn't been tracking. He has been wanting to run off. Then, when he asked him to go, he took off."

March 7, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. Dortmund led at each call and  improved to a perfect record from five starts. He set splits of :23.12, :46.09 and 1:11.30. Prospect Park finished second after stalking from sixth position. Bolo was another half-length back in third after looming up to Dortmund mid-stretch. Lord Nelson was fourth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths, after running third or fourth at each internal call.  Ocho Ocho Ocho, who lost for the first time in four races, was squeezed back at the start between Baffert's two starters.

Bob Baffert: “Coming into this race he was doing much better than he was last time. He’s starting to fill out, getting stronger. As long as he stays healthy, the farther they go, he’s just getting cranked up there at the end, so that was pretty exciting. Martin is on his own. All riders are on their own, and they just rode their race. The thing about Martin, he knows all these horses, so if I have to give him instructions, then I’m in trouble. He knows the horse really well. The worst thing you can do is take him back and get him behind a wall of horses. He was doing it pretty easily. He’ll stay here (for the Santa Anita Derby).”

Martin Garcia: “It looks easy because he’s such a good horse, and when you have a horse that’s good, he makes it look easy. I’m always confident because I know how good he is. I don’t think there will be any difference for him when we add more distance; he can go any distance. It won’t be a problem for him.”

THE NEXT DAY: “It was a walk in the park for him,” trainer Baffert said.

March 21 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “Dortmund is...a smart horse. He gets a little rambunctious in the paddock, but other than that, he’s pretty good. I’ve seen Dortmund stumble and break a little awkward but he can get up in the next jump and be right there. He’s really quick and very athletic, for a big horse. Big horses aren’t that way, usually. I’ve worked him in the mornings; you can stop and go with him."

March 22 NOTE: Mike Smith said, “I think Dortmund is the best 3-year-old because he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s the only one that’s been marching straight through. He hasn’t missed training. He hasn’t missed anything. I think he’ll want every bit of a mile and a quarter and he’s already proven he likes Churchill Downs with the way he won there. American Pharoah ran really well at Oaklawn the other day. I’m not sure how much was in that race. and it was his first race back, but he surely can’t be as tight as Dortmund is right now, so I’d have to give the edge to Dortmund.”

March 28 NOTE: “I got him in 1:11 and four with a gallop out of 24 and three,” trainer Bob Baffert said of Dortmund's workout today.

April 2 NOTE: With trainer Baffert drawing the two inside posts for the Santa Anita Derby, here's what he had to say about it today. “The post positions aren’t to my liking, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I have an idea of what I’ll tell my riders, but the most important thing is we have the stock. These races are won and lost in the first turn." Clocker Gary Young, who is a fun guy to be around, said this when asked if the early pace might compromise Dortmund “No, not at all/Dortmund is a good horse. He looked very good Saturday (in his six furlong workout of 1:11.60). I thought last year after they ran the Breeders’ Cup that the best 3-year-olds were in California, and I see nothing since then to make me alter my opinion. I felt the Derby winner would come out of California and I still feel that way.”

April 4, Grade I Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 1 1/8 Mile. Dortmund romped to a front-running 4 1/4-length victory timed in 1:48.73 under Martin Garcia. He bobbled slightly coming out of post 1, but he quickly went to the lead and kicked clear leaving the final turn. One Lucky Dane, second the first half-mile, dropped back to third and then came again to finish second. Bolo was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third after being last of six, but less than three lengths off the pace, after the first quarter-mile. Prospect Park was a neck back in fourth after being fifth or sixth the first three calls, followed by Cross the Line and Bad Read Sanchez.

The chart call: "Dortmund bobbled some just after the start, had good early speed and set a pressured pace inside, inched away on the backstretch and second turn, kicked clear under urging in the stretch and was being flagged with the whip late."

Bob Baffert: “It’s exciting. I’ve been in this position before. You get excited when you know you have a legit contender, just like last year when At Sherman went through it with California Chrome. The feeling is like we’ve been here before; just enjoy the moment because the next race is going to be the one. It’s good to see this horse just really developing the way he has from his first start. I just love the way he ran today. When we bought him, he looked like a really good horse, but he was just a big horse, and sometimes they don’t turn out. He’s a big, long-legged horse. When he made the lead and when he gets by himself like that, he’ll idle on you a little bit, so he had to keep going. (He'll) ship out of here maybe in another couple weeks. I’ll make that call later.”

Martin Garcia: “This is my first win in the Santa Anita Derby. There are a lot of ‘firsts’ with him for me. He was really comfortable. The main thing for me today was to break well and put him in a good position. Even though he’s won all his races, he’s still learning. He can play around a bit but when someone comes to him, or I ask him to go, he becomes push-button and he just takes off.  I never had the chance to ride American Pharoah except in his first time out. But American Pharoah just drags me in the morning; wherever you want to go, however far you want to go, he drags you there. Dortmund, just gallops along, but he isn’t aggressive about it. They’re different in that way but they’re both very good horses.”

Kaleem Shad, owner: “Just to have a horse in the Santa Anita Derby is a thrill, but to run this well and win it, is unbelievable. Ever since the San Felipe, this has been like March Madness for me. To be going to the Kentucky Derby with an undefeated horse like this and to be compared to horses like Seattle Slew and Smarty Jones is just amazing. We have these colors (red, white and blue) because I am very patriotic. I have strong feelings about this country ever since I became a naturalized citizen (in 1989)."

THE NEXT DAY: All is fine today with Dortmund, said trainer Baffert.

April 6 NOTE: Clocker Toby Turrell on Dortmund's loss of a shoe at the start of the Santa Anita Derby: “I watched a replay on high-definition TV...and it was much more fierce than a misstep or bobble. Jerry Bailey was speechless about (the start), trying to describe it. Dortmund’s legs buckled, and he’s such a massive horse, so he had to pick that mass up and continue. Somehow he did it.” Trainer Baffert said, “He was in that one hole, standing great and relaxed, but then he shuffled a little bit before the gate opened. And that’s when he came out, and being so big, his shoe came clean off. Game On Dude lost a shoe like that and won the Big Cap.” Reported at U-T San Diego

April 16 NOTE: Jockey Espinoza, rider of American Pharoah, said, “I see Dortmund every day, and he’s doing really good.”

April 21 NOTE: Dortmund is scheduled to work Saturday at Santa Anita after which Baffert will return to Louisville for a scheduled Sunday work by American Pharoah.

April 25 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said after today's workout, "Beautiful. He worked a little fast last time, so we were hoping he'd relax. He's getting very push-button."

April 25 NOTE: Dortmund breezed six furlongs in a controlled 1:13.60 Saturday morning at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Baffert did not want a repeat of last week’s quick five-furlong work and guided jockey Martin Garcia through the breeze by walkie talkie. The big colt responded and followed instructions. “Went well,” Baffert said. “He cruised today.”

April 26 NOTE: Dortmund arrived at Churchill Downs  today after a Tex Sutton flight from California. Five horses were on the van. Trainer Baffert was present and commented to the crowd, "You won't have any trouble figuring out which one he is." After exiting out of the van, the massive colt posed for the crowd with camera shutters flying and was then walked into barn 33.

April 27 NOTE: Dortmund was given a leisurely tour of the racing surface Monday morning. Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Baffert, rode the pony and held on to Dortmund shank for a jog the wrong way - clockwise - around the oval. Dortmund, who shipped from California on Sunday, was returning to the track for the first time since he won an allowance race over it on Nov. 29.

Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has said that Dortmund, a tall animal who measures 17 hands and weighs 1,280 pounds, will be the second choice on the morning line to his Baffert stablemate American Pharoah. Baffert holds a very strong hand for Derby 141 as he tries for his fourth victory in the Derby. “I’m glad I have them both on my roster,” Baffert said.

Dortmund is an imposing specimen, who has shown that he is gritty, fast and nimble while winning the first six starts of this career.  “I remember that one of my owners wanted to run against him in a stake,” Baffert said. “He said, ‘How would you compare my horse to Dortmund?’ I said, If you were here outside my office and I brought Dortmund out, you would say, ‘why are we running against him?’ He’s just a big, tall horse with a stride. He has speed. He’s really, really fast. It’s a fun time to have a horse like that. Kaleem Shah has waited a long time for horses like that. He’s been on a roll lately with Bayern and now him.”

Baffert said that Dortmund is a versatile type who can handle different race scenarios. In Baffert’s view, Dortmund showed his toughness when he rallied to beat Firing Line in the Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7.

“He can go fast early and smaller horses are trying to keep up with him,” Baffert said. “He’s doing it easy and they give up. Firing Line is the one who came to him and gave him a pretty good scare. It was a great race. When he came back and fought him off he really showed that he has a lot of determination. He’s got a lot of heart and wants to win. He’ll need that.”

Though Dortmund is taller and weighs more than most of the horses he will be facing Saturday, Baffert said, “This guy is lanky. He’s built sort of like a greyhound.”

April 28 NOTE: Dortmund, who breezed at Santa Anita Saturday, shipped to Kentucky on Sunday, and jogged with a pony on Monday, was out for a 1 ½-mile gallop.

“My horses are doing really well,” trainer Baffert said. “They worked well and went out today and did a little exercise. I’m happy with what’s going on right now. We’re playing the waiting game.”

Dortmund, a large, striking animal, drew a lot of attention as he made his way around the track under his exercise rider Dana Barnes. Later, dozens of people took thousands of images of the son of 2008 Derby winner Big Brown receiving his morning bath.

With a win on is resume over the surface, Dortmund looks comfortable at Churchill Downs. “He goes over this track so much better than he does at Santa Anita, which is crazy,” Baffert said. “Santa Anita is a little bit harder, but I can tell from his movement that he is a little more fluid over this track. I was really happy with what I saw of him today. He looks good.”

April 29 NOTE: On “is this an omen front?” there was good news out of Germany’s top soccer league in this week for Kaleem Shah, owner of Dortmund: the club team his horse is named after defeated Bayern Munich in an overtime shootout Tuesday. Last fall, before Shah’s Bayern won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Bayern team beat Dortmund.

Shah was wearing a Dortmund soccer shirt and jacket as he reported the result of Tuesday's at trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. Earlier in the morning Shah watched his colt gallop 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Dana Barnes.

Dortmund brings an unbeaten record into the 141st Derby. He earned a lot of respect on Feb. 7 at Santa Anita when he responded to a challenge from Firing Line and rallied in the stretch to win by a head.

“That obviously proves that he’s got a big heart,” Shah said. “It takes a horse with a certain demeanor, and speed and class to be undefeated, six for six so far. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m very hopeful that he will do well for himself. That Bob Lewis, the way he came back after being passed by Firing Line, just proves the quality of the horse that he is.”

On Tuesday, Baffert said Dortmund gets over the track at Churchill Downs better than he does at Santa Anita. Shah said that he had heard that, too.

“Dana Barnes, who gets on him, has told me that he moves way up on this surface compared to Santa Anita,” Shah said. “I know there are some other very good horses in this field, so I’m hopeful that he will do well.”

Shah was careful to be upbeat and diplomatic with comments but acknowledged that he is interested in seeing how his colts fares against the other star of Baffert’s barn, the likely favorite, American Pharoah.

“Obviously, I’m biased. Understandedly so,” he said. “It is not just a two-horse race. There are 19 other good horses in the race. Everybody is hopeful; that’s why they’re running. There is so much luck that goes into this race, but I’m hopeful that he’ll do well.”

And Shah said he is comfortable with having his horse, a son of 2008 Derby winner Big Brown, in the same barn with appears to be his biggest rivals.

“I know Bob will do right by both horses,” he said. “Whoever is the fastest will win. We will find out. If he has the heart of his daddy, Big Brown, I’m sure he will do well.”

Post Position Reaction – Bob Baffert, trainer -- "He's a horse that gets going. He's quick. He'll be right there in the mix. It will be tougher to watch one in there, so whichever one breaks the best I'm going to key on him."

April 30 NOTE: Dortmund gallloped 1 1/2 mile. "Dortmund is tough getting the saddle on (in the paddock)" trainer Baffert said. "Dortmund has been running against better horses (than American Pharoah). I think the California horses are pretty tough this year. I watch them work at Santa Anita. (American Pharoah and Dortmund) are pretty close. It’s incredible. I’m so fortunate. Something just worked out. I believe in fate, and I believe that something really good is about to happen, or else it’s going to be disappointing. It’s something we just have to wait to see it happen. Destiny.”

Baffert said that he hasn’t seen either of his colts breathing hard or tired after training or a race. “Maybe Dortmund is the horse. We don’t know. I don’t know how good he is. And the farther the better it’s going to be for him. He loves this track. He’s tough. I just want to get them around there. Turning for home, I’d love to see them one-two. That’s what I’d love to see. Then see what they’re made of Maybe there is another horse. Maybe Carpe Diem is better than them. Or somebody else. You don’t know. That’s why we have this race. I just hope to get a clear shot, not too much traffic and it’s not disastrous. I’ve been here with disastrous trips.”

May 1 NOTE: Dortmund galloped at 5:45 Friday morning, shortly after the track opened for training. From trainer Baffert’s perspective, the Derby will be won, or lost, in the moments after the gates open. “Our horses are not going to be coming from out of the clouds,” he said. “The break is going to be the key.
“You can’t manage (jockeys),” Baffert said. “If you have to manage the jockey then you’re running the wrong guy.”

Martin Garcia has the mount on unbeaten Dortmund, the second choice, in his fourth Derby appearance. They will be in post No. 8. Garcia has been aboard the big colt for all of his races.

“Martin, this is the first time that he’s going to ride a horse that actually has a really good chance to win, so I’m sure he will be a little nervous,” Baffert said. “It’s going to be a good test for him to see what he does. You really can’t map out too much for him. With 20 horses in there, it’s too confusing. He knows his horse. He’ll just put him in a nice spot. He likes his horse a lot. He has a lot of confidence in his horse. He hasn’t let him down yet. He knows what the horse likes and that’s important.”

May 2, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile.  American Pharaoh won the Kentucky Derby by a length over a determined Firing Line. Timed in 2:03.02 for the mile and a quarter, American Pharoah broke well from post 18 and was third in the early running behind honest but reasonable fractions of 23.24, 47.34 and 1:11.29 set by the rail-skimming Dortmund. Firing Line was second through those splits. American Pharoah began his bid on the far turn as Firing Line was moving to even terms with Dortmund. Leaving the turn, Gary Stevens and Firing Line fanned American Pharoah wide, but Victor Espinoza went to work on the winner and they were in command by a head at the eighth pole.

The chart call: "DORTMUND established command in the opening sixteenth, set the pace towards the inside, felt initial pressure from FIRING LINE leaving the five eighths pole, got caught up in a spirited duel with that one three furlongs from home, remained a solid presence to the final furlong, kept on willingly and doggedly held the show."

Bob Baffert: “We were ready to rumble. Since their last works I was hearing how good they were and I was hoping it would come true. I felt very confident going in.”

Martin Garcia: “He’s a really good horse and he ran like it today. He always comes to run; that’s the kind of horse he is. He got beat today by really good horses. That can happen.”

May 6 NOTE: He's been walking the shedrow through today.

May 6 NOTE: Nick Hines said was told by a rival trainer that Dortmund looked like he hadn't raced and was trying to run over his rivals in the Derby test barn after the race.

May 7 NOTE: Jogged today at Churchill Downs.

May 8 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 3/16 mile at Churchill Downs. “Everything went very nice, and we did exactly what Bob told us to do,” said assistant trainer Jim Barnes. “When they walk for four days, they can get a little quiet. You get them back to the track, and they begin to wake up. We didn’t do much this morning. Normally we gallop a mile and a half, and I would imagine we would be back to that distance soon.”

May 9 NOTE: American Pharoah galloped 1 3/8 mile at Churchill Downs.

May 10 NOTE: Dortmund jogged to the starting gate at the head of the stretch where he stood and then galloped 1 1/2 mile.

May 11 NOTE: “I was happy with both of them. It looks like they have kept the same energy level,” trainer Baffert said after the colts galloped 1 1/2 mile following the morning track renovation break. “American Pharoah floated over the ground and picked up his gallop the last half-mile. He wanted to do more. Dortmund got aggressive with Dana and galloped well. Coming out of a big race like the Derby, you don’t have to do too much. It is just a matter of keeping them at the same level. The good horses are easier to train. These two are used to running a lot, and coming back in two weeks is not a big concern with them.”

May 12 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, "Dortmund looked like a happy horse out there today. (If it rains) I don’t know about Dortmund."

May 13 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “We wait for the draw and get a little tense. Once the draw starts, to me, that’s when it starts, once we have the draw and post positions. Right now this is the lull. This is sort of the last chance you can sort of chill and relax.”

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Baffert said, “I can’t believe I drew the 1-2 of all draws. I’m just glad I didn’t draw that for the Derby. When I was watching the draw and all these numbers were coming up, I go, ‘This is not looking good.’ It’s the luck of draw. We’re there. I don’t love it, but they’ll be easy to watch.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “Dortmund came by first. He was really moving well. You could see he was comfortable. They looked healthy and bright, in top condition. There is no regressing there. It looks like they are coming up to another big race. I felt really good about it today. We didn’t like the draw. I just hate to see them next to each other like that. It’s something that you can’t change, so you just deal with it. I didn’t lose any sleep over it.

"It’s hard to really gauge the Derby. A lot of horses were struggling (in the Derby). I don’t really think Dortmund brought his A-game and Pharoah probably didn’t bring his Super-A game, but they look really good. It looked like they came out of the race really well. Dortmund is a good horse and Firing Line was digging in and running hard and not giving up. It was just a great horse race the last quarter.

"Dortmund is going to be tough again. The way he came out of it, he could jump up. It’s going to be interesting. What happens going into the first turn will determine everything.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “Dortmund came in undefeated and he still ran a very gallant race to run third. I really thought when they turned down the backside that he would win it, the way he was cruising along, like he did in California. He got a little tired, but since then he’s come back and he’s really trained well. I expect another big effort out of him. All of the horses that ran in the Derby that are here, they look like they are training really well. It should be a very competitive race.

“Having a lot of people, a crowd around makes Pharoah nervous. After his first race, in which he was terrible, we determined he was sensitive to sound. He’s a very gentle horse, but his ears are so sensitive. We started putting cotton in them.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Dortmund finished fourth, beaten 15 1/2 lengths, after challenging the pacesetting, victorious American Pharoah on the far turn. The winning time was 1:58.46. It was the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Bob Baffert: “I was hoping he’d show a little more. I was afraid about the mud with him and his big feet.”

Martin Garcia: “He didn’t like the sloppy track. He didn’t come out good from the gate and he didn’t like the mud in his face. Not his best effort today.”

The chart call: "DORTMUND rated back soon after the break, angled out to the three path approaching the wire the first turn, moved to the inner rail entering the first turn, eased out entering the backstretch, advanced four deep entering the far turn to reach a striking position, came under a ride soon after, remained a presence to upper stretch then faltered."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Dortmund won his debut by 4 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita, then raced four weeks later at Churchill Downs.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes' take on Dortmund's one-mile allowance win at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29: "It was coming here and seeing how he travels. He needs a little experience, he's still developing. Basically wanted to see how he handled Churchill. He handled it really well, didn't he?"

Martin Garcia: "I got the best trip. I couldn't ask him for more. The way he ran, I don't see why not (go longer). We were just galloping. I just galloped to the outside and never asked for anything, and then at the top of the stretch, I asked him a little bit. I wanted to make sure he was in control."

After being run 33 times as the Hollywood Futurity and CashCall Futurity, the Los Alamitos Futurity finished with Dortmund a head in front of Firing Line and Mr. Z a nose back at the wire. Making his first start around two turns, Dortmund, the 3-5 favorite, remained undefeated. Five ran. Dortmund, who was supplemented at a cost of $20,000, completed the 1 1/16 mile in a track record 1:40.86 under Martin Garcia.  Positioned third in the clear while Mr. Z. set the pace accompanied by Firing Line, Dortmund rallied outside his rivals in the final eighth of a mile and was able to win the hard-fought decision.

Bob Baffert: “I knew it was going to be those three. They’re all really good horses. He’s such a big, lumbering horse. I wasn’t sure how he was going to handle the tight turns here. He broke well, and he got him into his own rhythm. He reminds me of Point Given. He’s got a good mind, but he’s still filling out and he’s still learning.’’

Martin Garcia: “He learned a lot. That was the first time he went two turns, and usually he’s right there (on the lead), but today they broke really fast. I was pretty comfortable. I knew what I had underneath. He was pretty quiet two months ago. He was a baby when he first ran. It was a big difference."

Dec. 23 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said Dortmund came out of his victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity in good order. “He ran a good race, but I think he ran better the time before,” Baffert said. "I shipped him back and forth from three different tracks (Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Los Alamitos), but he still got the win. He’s a good horse. He got some schooling. He got behind horses and did everything we wanted him to do.”

Dec. 25 NOTE: Seen at Bloodhorse.com: Breeder Emilie Fojan had a hard time getting the oversized colt sold as a youngster. She said, "He was so big; everybody was afraid of his size. I couldn't get him sold (in November at Keeneland), so I threw him into the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale. I had so many people coming up to me and saying, 'I love your horse but we are so afraid of him.' They were afraid of his size. I had a hard time selling him. At the sales I would tell people, 'I know this horse has speed,' and somebody would have to take a chance on him. He's not one of those heavy horses; he was very athletic.... I knew he had speed. I have these really long turnout paddocks. When I would turn the babies out in the morning he was already at the top of the hill when everyone else was standing still. I would take him swimming. He was a smart, laid-back horse. The gentleman at the swimming pool said, 'Emilie, you are going to have a good horse here.' I asked him why and he said, 'I don't get babies that can swim like that. He swims like a horse that is a 3- or 4-year-old horse in training.'"

 

 

FIRING LINE (KY)
Trainer: Simon Callaghan
Owner: Arnold Zetcher LLC
Breeder: Clearsky Farms
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Line of David (Lion Heart, Emma's Dilemma)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Sister Girl Blues (Hold for Gold, Sister Girl)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-1-6-0-0 (12) 3.00
Foal Date: Jan. 19, 2012


$65,000 Keeneland November 2012.
$150,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2013.
$240,000 Keeneland April 2014.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 10, Firing Line worked four in 48:00 (10/69) at SA.
On Jan. 17, Firing Line worked five in 59:80 (4/43) at SA.
On Jan. 24, Firing Line worked five in 1.00:60 (15/47) at SA.
On Jan. 31, Firing Line worked five in 1.02:60 (54/64) at SA.
On Feb. 21, Firing Line worked four in 48:20 (10/71) at SA.
On Feb. 27, Firing Line worked five in 59:60 (7/131) at SA.
On March 8, Firing Line worked five in 1.00:80 (8/22) at SA.
On March 15, Firing Line worked five in 59:80 (7/40) at SA.
On April 3, Firing Line worked four in 48:00 (6/24) at SA.
On April 11, Firing Line worked five in 59:20 (5/41) at SA.
On April 18, Firing Line worked five in 1.00:40 (22/59) at SA.
On April 25, Firing Line breezed five in 1.02:20 (47/55) at SA.

 

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Feb. 7, Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. Dortmund pressed the pace set by Tizcano, took the lead on the backstretch, was soon joined by Firing Line, and the race was on. In mid-stretch Firing Line took a one-length lead only to see Dortmund come back on him and win by a head. Race-horse time of 1:42.20, a really great race.

Simon Callaghan, trainer of Firing Line, second: “It was Gary’s view that he moved a little early. All we know is he ran a very good race. They pulled a long way clear. It’s disappointing not to win. Gary came back and the first thing he said is 'I’d ride him a little differently next time.' These things are always easy after the event and the horse is still learning. I think one thing for sure is he’s a very good horse and he got beat by a very good one. These are two very good horses.”

Gary Stevens, jockey of Firing Line, second: “I was disappointed. I saw that Martin was asking his horse and he wasn’t getting any response and I was sitting there with a lot of horse. I thought I would never say I moved too early at the eighth pole in a dirt race, but I moved too early. At the three-eighths, I saw Dortmund wasn’t responding and I was smiling. I said we’ll see what he does and we were opening up and he was idling. I thought we buried the one we had to beat, then I saw the shadow coming back at me.”

March 22, Grade III Sunland Derby, Sunland Park, 1 1/8 Mile. After breaking from post 1, Firing Line and Gary Stevens fought through very fast initial fractions of :22.33 and :45.39 with Why Two and Malibu Mogul, a speedster with blinkers added. As the field advanced toward the far turn, Stevens asked Firing Line for a little more, and he scooted away from the field by 1 1/2 length with six furlongs run in 1:09.10. From there, it was a cakewalk home for Firing Line as he went a mile in 1:34.70 and finished the distance in 1:47.39. He finished 14 1/4 lengths better than Where's the Moon, who was content to sit last of seven midway through the race, about four lengths off the pace. A new track record was set by Firing Line, eclipsing the 1:47.54 mark established by Govenor Charlie in the 2013 Sunland Derby.

March 26 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “He’s back here at Santa Anita and will train up to the Derby. I was kind of hoping for that (result of Sunland Derby). I think he needed to go and do that to really put himself into the Kentucky Derby picture.”

April 3 NOTE: It looks like Firing Line will be a late arrival to Churchill Downs. After he worked four furlongs under Gary Stevens in 48 seconds today, trainer Callaghan said, “He went on the steady side and really relaxed, which is good. I think we’ll probably do our last work here and then ship him.”

April 5 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “It was definitely nice to see Dortmund win as impressively as he did. Firing Line, Dortmund and American Pharoah seem to have similar front-running styles, but in the Kentucky Derby, you’ve got to get a good post position, and that determines a lot of things, but I like the way our horse is doing.”

April 6 NOTE: Clocker Toby Turrell on Firing Line after seeing him on the track yesterday morning: “He lost nothing out of that race. He looks great today. He came out of that race great. He’ll be a presence. He took Dortmund to the wire twice, so you can look at it that way. And he looks really healthy.” Reported at U-T San Diego

April 12 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said after the April 11 workout under Gary Stevens, per report at Bloodhorse.com, "He went really good. We couldn't be happier with this move. It was exactly what we were looking for... He's striding pleasantly at the moment and it was just a nice work. He did it in relaxed fashion, and Gary said he felt really good galloping out." Callaghan said Firing Line will work at the same distance April 18, but will have company.

April 16 NOTE: Jockey Stevens said today, “This is the best group of 3-year-olds as a whole that I can remember, dating back to when I was a little kid. This will be my 21st or 22d Derby, but as far as depth goes, it’s there, with American Pharoah, Carpe Diem, Dortmund, Firing Line, Frosted -- even Far Right, El Kabeir and the colt that won the Lexington Saturday, Divining Rod. It’s going to be an interesting Derby, and I’m excited about it, not just for my horse, but to see so many other good ones. It’s fun to be a part of it.”

April 17 NOTE: Owner Zetcher on the colt's workout last Saturday under Gary Stevens: “He looked real good. He did it easy, he went in 59 and change and galloped out in 1:12. It was exactly the time we were hoping for. Gary liked the way he did it, too. We’ve run two horses in the Derby, Midnight Interlude, after he won the (2011) Santa Anita Derby; he didn’t do well, and then Liaison, who came in sixth (in 2012). I think Firing Line could be our best opportunity. He had six weeks between the Robert Lewis and the Sunland Derby and he’ll have six weeks until the Derby. That was the plan all along. We thought the timing was right. There are good 3-year-olds this year. Dortmund and American Pharoah from here, and Carpe Diem and Frosted from back east. The competition is stiff, but it’s exciting.”

April 18 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said of Firing Line, “I got him in a tick faster than (1:00.40), but it’s just what we were looking for. He sat off the lead horse, joined it, and galloped out really strong. Gary was really, really happy. He’ll probably have one more breeze here next Saturday, and leave for Kentucky April 26.”

April 25 NOTE: Gary Stevens said, "His last two works, last week and again this morning, what's made me smile is, on the gallop out, he has the nice fluid stride, but when I turn into the backstretch -- when he switches back into his right lead -- he just lunges with me and his stride doubles," Stevens said after the breeze. "He locks onto me, like, 'All right. Now can I go?' That's what he was thinking this morning, 'Oh, he's going to turn me loose now.' He tried to sneak away from me on the gallop out, but it was time to pull up."

April 25 NOTE: Firing Line went through a designed “easy work” Saturday morning at Santa Anita, one that trainer Callaghan termed “great.” The bay son of the young stallion Line of David went off at 6:30 with Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens – who’ll also ride him in the Kentucky Derby – in the saddle and skipped through five furlongs in 1:02.20.

“Just what we wanted for him,” the transplanted Englishman said by phone from his Santa Anita barn. “He’s shipping tomorrow – he’ll be on a plane at 1 a.m. – and we didn’t want to do too much with him. Gary liked the move very much. We just stretched his legs a little bit. He’s very fit; very ready to do what he has to do.”

Callaghan noted that the colt’s exercise rider, Humberto Gomez, and his assistant trainer, Carlos Santamaria, would be on a red-eye out of Los Angeles in order to meet Firing Line in Kentucky. The trainer planned to fly to Louisville on Tuesday.  Firing Line’s flight will have several other notable horses on board, including likely Kentucky Derby starters Dortmund and Bolo.

April 26 NOTE: Firing Line arrived safely at Churchill Downs Sunday shortly after 12 noon aboard a flight that originated out of Ontario in Southern California. On the Tex Sutton charter was a pair of Firing Line’s Kentucky Derby rivals, Dortmund and Bolo.

Firing Line has taken up residence in Barn 42 on the backstretch where he’ll be tended to by assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria and exercise rider Humberto Gomez. Trainer Callaghan is scheduled to come on board from his Santa Anita headquarters on Tuesday.

Firing Line is a winner of two of five starts with three seconds besides. Two of those second-place endings were photo-finish losses to Dortmund, one of the likely favorites in Saturday’s Derby 141. One of his wins – and his most recent start – was a galloping 14-plus lengths triumph in the Grade III Sunland Derby March 22. Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens was aboard for that romp in New Mexico and he’ll have the call again Saturday.

April 27 NOTE: Firing Line did some jogging Monday morning at Churchill Downs, going nice and easy once around the main track with exercise rider Humberto Gomez in the tack during the 8:30-8:45 Derby/Oaks training period.

The colt by the Lion Heart stallion Line of David had been flown to Louisville from his Southern California headquarters Sunday. Besides Gomez, the Sunland Derby winner also had assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria in his camp as they await the arrival of head trainer Callaghan from Santa Anita on Tuesday.

As Firing Line was readied for his jog, his Derby rider Gary Stevens stopped by the barn to check on the bay. Stevens was asked just how much he liked Firing Line. “I like him quite a bit,” the 52-year-old jockey said with a smile.

April 28 NOTE: Firing Line got a good leg-stretching in Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs during the 8:30 to 8:45 special training period for Derby and Oaks horses, galloping a mile and a half and taking a visit to the starting gate under exercise rider Humberto Gomez. The Sunland Derby winner, a husky bay by the young Lion Heart stallion Line of David, did just fine with it according to his partner.

“He galloped really well,” Gomez said back at Barn 42. “I think he likes this track a lot. He was relaxed out there and seemed to enjoy it. Even when a horse went past us, he didn’t mind. He just kept on cruising. He was a little tense the first time we walked him into the gate. It was something new for him and he was a bit unsure. But we backed him out and took him in a second time and he was much more relaxed. He learns quickly. He’s a professional racehorse. He’s the kind of horse that makes me look good.”

Firing Line has two wins and three seconds in five lifetime starts. Two of those seconds were photo-finish losses to Dortmund, a Kentucky Derby rival and one of the race’s favorites. Gary Stevens has the call on Firing Line in Derby 141.

April 29 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan – following a serious flying misadventure – was in from California and able to oversee Firing Line’s exercise Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. His bay colt went trackside at the start of the 8:30 special training session for Derby and Oaks candidates and toured a mile and one half in a strong gallop under exercise rider Humberto Gomez. He also visited the starting gate.

“He went right in the gate today,” Gomez said afterward back at Barn 42. “Yesterday he was a bit tense going in there the first time, but today he went right in no problem. He felt strong under me galloping. He’s doing good.”

Transplanted Englishman Callaghan is pleased with his horse and excited for the chance to take part in his first “Darby.” “Oh, yes, very glad to be here,” he noted. “Especially after all it took to do it yesterday.”

The 31-year-old Callaghan, who has been training out of Southern California since 2009, had a simple trip from Los Angeles to Louisville through Chicago planned for Tuesday, but got caught up in a traveler’s nightmare instead. First, after boarding at LAX and sitting on the runway, his entire plane was told to return to the terminal. Three and one-half hours later they finally got in the air, only to miss their connection in Chicago, of course. But another flight to Louisville was lined up and he and his fellow passengers boarded. Once more, they sat on the runway with nothing happening. Finally, they were told that the plane’s steering was malfunctioning and they’d have to once more return to the terminal, where another plane would be scheduled. At last he made it to Louisville Tuesday evening.

“Missed my dinner, but I’m here now,” Callaghan said. “It’ll get better from here on out.”

Post Position Reaction – Simon Callaghan, trainer – “I’m very happy with the draw. I believe we’re last to load, which is an advantage. And with the No. 10, you’ve got options.”

April 30 NOTE: The sturdy California-based colt Firing Line galloped a mile and one half and schooled in the paddock under exercise rider Humberto Gomez Thursday morning during the special Derby/Oaks training period. Trainer Callaghan, along with the colt’s owner – Arnold Zetcher – and his wife Ellen were very interested observers.

The transplanted Englishman Callaghan has an immediate schedule planned for his son of the young Lion Heart stallion Line of David, a participant in the 2010 Kentucky Derby where he showed speed, but backed up late and finished well behind race winner Super Saver.

“We’ll paddock school him today,” the conditioner said, “then we’ll gallop him tomorrow morning during the 5:45 to 6 period they have for Derby horses. I’ll probably put him on the track Derby morning. I like to jog my horses a bit on race day.”

Callaghan was asked about his colt’s romping 14 ½-length victory in the Sunland Derby April 4. “Well, as a trainer, you’d prefer to have an easy race for your horse coming into one like this,” he said. “We thought we could do well in that race, but we were a bit surprised by just how well he did. I’ve never had a horse win a stakes race by that far; maybe another kind of race, but not a stakes. It was a confidence builder for him and we’re glad for that.”

May 1 NOTE: The well-made colt Firing Line by the young stallion Line of David galloped a mile and one half Friday in the early 5:45-6 a.m. training period set aside for Derby and Oaks horses at Churchill Downs. Regular exercise rider Humberto Gomez was in the tack and trainer Callaghan looked on from just inside the Lukas Gap on the backstretch. Callaghan, who will be saddling his first Derby horse, noted that he’ll probably put Firing Line on the track Saturday for a light jog.

“I believe he’s ready,” Callaghan said of his charge who will break from post 10 Saturday and be ridden by three-time Derby winner Gary Stevens. “He’s feeling good, acting good, right where we want him to be,” the trainer added.

May 2, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile.  American Pharaoh won the Kentucky Derby by a length over a determined Firing Line. Timed in 2:03.02 for the mile and a quarter, American Pharoah broke well from post 18 and was third in the early running behind honest but reasonable fractions of 23.24, 47.34 and 1:11.29 set by the rail-skimming Dortmund. Firing Line was second through those splits. American Pharoah began his bid on the far turn as Firing Line was moving to even terms with Dortmund. Leaving the turn, Gary Stevens and Firing Line fanned American Pharoah wide, but Victor Espinoza went to work on the winner and they were in command by a head at the eighth pole.

The chart call: "FIRING LINE prompted the pace three wide under rating, came under a ride and engaged DORTMUND three furlongs out, gained a brief lead while between rivals departing the five sixteenths, relinquished command to the determined DORTMUND entering the lane, dug in between rivals dueling to mid stretch, drifted out late under left handed rousing brushing the winner and gave way grudgingly."

Simon Callaghan: “It is disappointing, for sure. But on the other hand I’m very proud of how well my horse ran. Gary (Stevens) rode a great race, he had him in the right spot. We just got beat. I didn’t expect him to be as close as he was, but I knew Gary had him right. We tried all the way. Tough beat."

Gary Stevens: “Going into that first turn, he was pulling hard. I looked over and saw that Martin’s horse was pulling just as hard as mine. I eased back off him a little bit and gave both horses some breathing room. He was aggressive today. He was on it. Coming for home I thought I might get there, but it wasn’t to be. My horse showed his braveness today. He just got beat. I’m very proud of him.”

May 3 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “I’m proud of the race he ran. Our team had him spot on to run. We got a very good ride from Gary, and in the end there were no excuses. We got beat by a very good horse.” The conditioner reported that his colt had come out of the Derby in good order. He said he ate up Saturday night and was showing no ill effects from his hard effort in the mile and a quarter. “You’d have to think if all is well that he’s earned that right,” Callaghan said. “We were glad we finally got to best Dortmund after he’d beaten us twice. And we believe we can be right there with American Pharoah. We’ll walk him here for the next three or four days and monitor him. We’ll then train him with the Preakness in mind. Maybe we’ll breeze him, or maybe we’ll just gallop him. We’ll let the horse tell us. If we go, we’ll probably ship up there at some point next week.”

May 6 NOTE: Was on the track today for the first time since the Derby.

May 7 NOTE: Jogged again today.

May 8 NOTE: Galloped 1 1/2 mile today. “For the first day, that was a comfortable gallop,” Humberto Gomez said. “He is the same as he was before the Derby, which is a good sign. He is what I would call scary calm. He is so professional.”

May 9 NOTE: Galloped 1 1/2 mile today. Trainer Callaghan said, “I’ve never been to Pimlico myself. I think Firing Line will handle the track well. I think it will suit him. He can pretty much lay anywhere you need him to; he’s a very easy horse, very versatile in that respect. He’s run well at various race tracks, so I don’t think the surface or anything should be any problem.”

May 10 NOTE: Owner Zetcher said, “He was on the lead or near the lead for most of the race. It’s a bit unusual for a horse in the Derby to be near or on the lead early in the race and throughout the race and still hold on. The only thing was the not switching leads coming down the stretch – that could have made a little difference maybe. But all in all, we’re very proud of the horse. Simon has managed this horse just beautifully and continues to do so. This was always the plan – to bring him into Kentucky a fresh horse. We did, and we think he’s pretty fresh for the Preakness, as well. We think he’s fresh, and this has always been the plan.”

May 10 NOTE: Firing Line had an open gallop of about six furlongs under Humberto Gomez with a similar activity scheduled for Monday, according to trainer Simon Callaghan.

May 11 NOTE: Under exercise rider Humberto Gomez, Firing Line galloped 1 1/2 mile with the final half of the exercise being an open gallop similar to Sunday’s exercise. “It was the same thing as yesterday; maybe a little slower,” Gomez said. “He has been galloping good and eating well and very happy with the last two days,” assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria said. “I know he has a lot of heart and will give his best to the end.”

May 12 NOTE: He galloped 1 1/2 mile. The exercise rider said the colt was looking for more today. “He won’t train in the morning,” said assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria. “He will load here at 10 and Simon will be waiting for us at Pimlico. Everything has gone perfect. The weather has cooled and he has done well. Knock wood, we keep it the same until we leave.” Exercise rider Gomez said, "I wanted to give him an easy day today and he wants to do more. He’s got a great attitude and when he gets to the quarter-pole. He wants to go.”

May 13 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “Carlos and Humberto have been happy with the way the horse has been training. Everything seems to have gone perfectly between the Derby and now. He seems to have really good energy. He’s seems very happy. He’s showing all the signs you want to see going into a big race. We didn’t want to breeze him between the two races. He’s feeling really good and has had lots of energy, so we decided to give him slightly more open gallops just to keep him calm, so he’s not too fresh with not doing any breezes in two weeks. The horse is really fit and fresh going into a big race.”

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Callaghan said, “We're happy with that. We've got options from out there. It's perfect. We're happy. I guess post 1 makes it a little tougher for (American Pharoah), but we're certainly happy with our post position.''

Jockey Stevens said, “If I can draw the trip up the same way that I would have drawn the draw up, then we're in good shape. I'm pretty pleased.  I think it's going to force their hand a little, and then with Mr. Z. drawn to the outside (of American Pharoah), I don't think it's any secret, Wayne wanted his horse up close in the Derby. New owners, new connections now. It's really going to force their hand down inside, and I'll have options. He's sat before. I sat in the Bob Lewis, and I was second to Dortmund the first time. He'll sit about any trip. I wasn't overly concerned about the draw. I told Mr. Zetcher just prior to it, I'd love the outside, but if we don't, I'll be fine with where we're at. But with the way everybody else drew, with those three being down inside, it gives me a lot of options.''

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “We didn’t want to do too much with him today. He’s feeling well and has really settled in well. He’ll gallop in the morning."

Gary Stevens said, “I’m very relaxed and confident. We got a great draw. I saw him on the track this morning and getting off the van yesterday, and he’s very relaxed and confident too. It’s a good spot to be in. At the three-eighths pole, five-sixteenths pole (of the Derby), I would have bet all of my belongings that I was sitting on the winner. It showed what a great horse American Pharoah is. Firing Line took him to the well and he took us to the well. They were giving it everything they had. It was a great horse race. I was confident going into the Derby. There were so many skeptics going into the Derby about him getting a mile and a quarter, but having ridden him twice previously and getting on him in the morning, I didn’t have a doubt in my mind. I don’t think Simon had a doubt in his mind,” he said. “Even though he didn’t win, it sort of vindicated him. He put that to rest. There’s no doubt about his desire to win and fight. That’s one of his greatest assets.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Callaghan said, “Everything’s good. I really liked the way he galloped. He hit his leads perfectly. It was a good morning. He’s training equally as well as he was going into the Derby. We’re seeing all the same things, so I couldn’t be happier. He runs equally as well on every race track. I think it’s because he’s such an athlete. He’s a good-moving, fluid-moving horse. He’s such an athletic horse. That’s the one thing about him – he’s a horse that doesn’t need the lead; he can adapt to any circumstances. We’ll just see how the race unfolds. You never really know until the gates open. You can presume there’s going to be a lot of speed, but when you predict there’s going to be speed, it doesn’t happen.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Firing Line finished seventh, beaten 45 lengths after being eased in the stretch. American Pharoah was timed in 1:58.46. It was  the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Simon Callaghan: “His second jump out he stumbled badly. That took his momentum and then he never really got hold of the track. Nothing went right, what with all that rain coming. I don't know about the Belmont.”

Gary Stevens: “We stumbled out of the gate and that was our race today.”

The chart call: "FIRING LINE stumbled and splayed his front legs leaving the starting gate, was four deep the first turn, circled the far turn three wide and was eased through the stretch."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

After finishing second in his debut, he dominated maidens at 6 1/2 furlongs Nov. 30 at Del Mar in his second start.

The Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 20 finished with Dortmund a head in front of Firing Line and Mr. Z a nose back at the wire. Five ran. Dortmund completed the 1 1/16 mile in a track record 1:40.86.  Positioned third in the clear while Mr. Z. set the pace accompanied by Firing Line, Dortmund rallied outside his rivals in the final eighth of a mile and was able to win the hard-fought decision.  Mr. Z lugged out badly in the stretch and bumped Firing Line several times. Mike Smith claimed it cost Firing Line the race.

Simon Callaghan: “He ran a very good race first time going two turns. He got a little anxious before the race. He ran exceptionally well. Tough beat, but we have a lot of other good races to look forward to with him.’’

 

 

MR. Z (KY)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Owner: Calumet Farm
Breeder: Richard D. Maynard
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy, Macoumba
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Stormy Bear (Storm Cat, Amelia Bearhart)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 8-7-12-0-1 (28) 3.00
Foal Date: Jan. 12, 2012


$60,000 RNA Keeneland September 2013.
$135,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall 2013.

NEXT RACE

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 6, Mr. Z breezed five in 1.00:20 (1/90) at OP.
On Jan. 12, Mr. Z breezed five in 1.01:20 (1/12) at OP.
On Jan. 26, Mr. Z breezed five in 1.04:20 (13/15) at OP.
On Feb. 4, Mr. Z breezed five in 1.01:00 (1/26) at OP.
On Feb. 11, Mr. Z breezed four in 49:20 (8/20) at OP.
On March 2, Mr. Z breezed five on a good track in 1.03:80 (19/32) at OP.
On March 9, Mr. Z breezed five on a muddy track in 1.04:00 (9/16)at OP.
On March 16, Mr. Z breezed five on a good track in 1.02:00 (3/15) at OP.
On March 24, Mr. Z breezed four in 50:20 (40/88) at OP.
On April 6, Mr. Z breezed four in 48:20 (2/18) at OP.
On April 22, Mr. Z breezed five in 1.01:00 (4/20) at CD.
On April 28, Mr. Z breezed two in 24:00 (1/1) at CD.

 

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 19, Smarty Jones Stakes, Oaklawn Park, One Mile. Mr. Z made a crazy stretch run while Far Right was visually impressive winning -- he was 7 3/4 lengths off the pace at the first call and was eighth of nine after a half-mile -- and his time of 1:38.43 was, historically, pretty good. Far Right prevailed over Bayerd by 1 3/4 length. Bayerd was never worse than fourth and kept trying.  Mr. Z prompted the pace, led by 2 1/2 lengths at the furlong marker, bolted right and finished third, a half-length back of Bayerd. Private Prospect was fourth.
Jon Court: “I felt like I was on the winner, I believed I was on the winner. He’s had a tendency to lug out in some of his races, but today was a bolt. I’m not really sure of the reason. Once I was able to straighten him out, he ran straight and was fortunately able to hold third.”

Ahmed Zayat on Twitter: "Not sure what was that" and "Head scratcher!! (Spoke) with for for coach 45 mins, he will get him right. Looked like he was gone win easy, will live to flight another day."

Feb. 1 NOTE: Wayne Lukas said Jon Court will keep the mount on Mr. Z in the Feb. 16 Southwest. We'll bet Court doesn't hit him left-handed in the stretch. But seriously, what if Court needs to hit him right-handed? Mr. Z is set to work Tuesday morning under Court.

Feb. 6 NOTE: Agent Tony Matos has booked Corey Nakatani on Mr. Z in the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 16. Jon Court rode Mr. Z in the Smarty Jones debacle.

Feb. 22, Grade III Southwest Stakes, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Far Right settled toward the back of the field as slight favorite Mr. Z led the field through opening fractions of :23.61, :47.90 and 1:14.33. The winner angled out four wide midway around the final turn, dropped to the inside nearing the furlong marker and dug in gamely. He prevailed by three-quarters of a length over longshot The Truth Or Else, who was last early came five wide on the turn and kept running to nose out Mr. Z for second. The time was 1:47.50.

D. Wayne Lukas: “On the race track today, I thought he ran a hell of a race. If you watched the races, 1 through 7, the horses on the pace were not around. It favored closers all day, and I was afraid of that. I wanted to leave him alone. From the 11 hole, though, we didn’t want to get backed in there, either. When he broke sharp like that, we took advantage of that. We used him a lot in the first half - there isn’t any question about that. I thought he ran a hell of a race, maybe the best race he’s run so far.”
Lukas said Mr. Z is “doubtful” for the Rebel Stakes because American Pharoah is running. Both horses are owned by Zayat Stables.

Corey Nakatani:: “The main thing is Wayne wanted to try something new and I was wanting to track another horse but inherited the lead. He ran really well considering the conditions. I think once he gets on to a surface that doesn’t have all the weather going on it will move him forward. He’s very talented and next out, weather permitting, things will go his way.”

March 19 NOTE: Mr. Z will race without blinkers in the Louisiana Derby and will have Kent Desormeaux in the saddle.

March 28, Grade II Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds, 1 1/8 Mile. Mr. Z, the third betting choice at 3-1, finished last. The chart call: "Mr. Z went three wide on the first turn, tracked the pace on the outside, chased in the two path on the far turn, came three wide into the stretch and stopped."

Kent Desormeaux: “He gave me a dream ride until he had had enough.”

April 2 NOTE: Mr. Z is training at Oaklawn after finishing last in the Louisiana Derby at 3-1 odds with blinkers added. Trainer Lukas said the blinkers-off move didn’t work but really had no explanation for what happened. Lukas said owner Ahmed Zayat will make a decision on where to steer Mr. Z after this weekend. Mr. Z has 14 Kentucky Derby points.

April 9 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, “I know we get criticized for running him. My take on that is I don’t think you guys have ever trained one, never have owned one, never put anything into the game and, yet, you have all these opinions on what we should do and shouldn’t do. So I don’t pay any attention to it. He’s having a good week, so we’ll see what happens,” Lukas said. “Not that he hasn’t faced these horses before.”

April 11, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Mr. Z, who was third at each of the first three calls, stayed on and finished third, 3/4 length behind Far Right, edging Madefromlucky by a neck for the show. Far Right, eighth and last by 13 lengths in the early going, was roused in the far turn, and he finished well to get past Mr. Z inside the final 1/8 mile and run second by eight lengths.  But it was American Pharaoh who won big, timed in 1:48.52.

The chart call: "Mr. Z came out just after the start, raced forwardly and outside, moved a bit closer into the far turn, lodged a mild and brief bid in the second bend, flattened out in the drive."

D. Wayne Lukas: "I was real pleased. We kind of put it back together today. I thought we were going to be second, and then damn, he gassed a little bit there. I put the blinkers back on and we got back to what he needed. Coming back in two weeks (from the Louisiana Derby), I think if we'd had more time we could have been a clear second. Obviously, we were not going to beat the winner. The winner is a special horse. Bob had him trained to the minute. He's special. With our horse, it's on to the Derby. We picked up enough points to get in."

Ramon Vasquez: “He’s a nice horse. He tried hard and really fought hard at the end. Hopefully this qualifies him for the Kentucky Derby. I’m glad the connections gave me the chance to ride him.”

Ahmed Zayat:  "Wayne Lukas is my trainer, and I continue to trust him. To think this horse ran two weeks ago, and to come back and run like this against American Pharoah and make that huge move was amazing. We know this colt is talented, too. I am so happy with his performance today. I don't know if he'll run in the Kentucky Derby, too. We have to wait and see how he came out of the race and I have to talk to Lukas and see if he wants to run him. I'm not ruling anything out."

April 20 NOTE: Mr. Z galloped a little more than a mile. Exercise rider Edvin Vargas was aboard.

April 21 NOTE: Mr. Z is scheduled to work at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday during the training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said that exercise rider Edvin Vargas would handle the work. Mr. Z galloped a little more than a mile after the break Tuesday with Vargas up.

April 22 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, "We just wanted a maintenance work. He finished up strongly. He liked the race track. We don't want to do too much close to the race. I thought it was fine, it was OK. We don't get paid at 8:30 in the morning. He seems to have an affinity for the race track, and that's important at this time."

April 22 NOTE: Ramon Vazquez, who rode Mr. Z to a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, will have the Kentucky Derby mount. After the morning renovation break, Mr. Z worked five furlongs in 1:01 (4/20) in company with Majestico. Starting a length in back of his workmate and finishing on even terms, Mr. Z produced fractions of :12.80, :25, :37, :48.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60. Exercise rider Edvin Vargas was aboard Mr. Z for the work. “I thought it was fine,” trainer Lukas said. “You don’t get paid at 8:30 in the morning. He is probably the most seasoned horse in the race and didn’t need to do too much,” Lukas said.

April 23 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said that Mr. Z came out of his five-furlong work of 1:01 on Wednesday in good order. Mr. Z walked the shedrow Thursday and will return to the track in the morning according to Lukas.

April 24 NOTE: Mr. Z jogged under exercise rider Edvin Vargas after the morning renovation break. It was the colt’s first day back at the track following a five-furlong work in 1:01 on Wednesday.

April 25 NOTE: Because of the threat of rain, trainer Lukas decided not to wait for the training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses after the renovation break and instead took Mr. Z to the track soon after it opened. With exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, Mr. Z galloped in a manner that pleased Lukas.

“He’s handling the track well, very well,” Lukas said. “His energy is really good. So I’m pleased where I’m at with him. He obviously has to improve. I’m comfortable where he’s at right now.”

After finishing last in the Louisiana Derby, more than 20 lengths behind winner International Star, Mr. Z. was third in the Arkansas Derby (GI), 8 3/4 lengths behind winner American Pharoah. Lukas called the Louisiana Derby “a debacle” for Mr. Z.

“We tried a bunch of stuff, took the blinkers off, changed up the rider, did a number of things,” Lukas said. “And I don't think he cared for the track either, as it turned out. ... He’s back to his old form and rebounded well in Arkansas.”

April 26 NOTE: Mr. Z, with exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, galloped Sunday morning after the renovation break and had a schooling session in the in the paddock. Mr. Z. will be the 48th Kentucky Derby starter for trainer Lukas, whose record 14 victories in Triple Crown races include four wins in the Derby. He first participated in the Derby in 1981. Lukas said that since his first Derby, he has seen changes in how trainers prepare their horses.

“Absolutely,’’ he said. “You watch the guys who have been here for the first time, and you see them do things that probably they wouldn’t normally do. They try to change things because it is the Kentucky Derby – trying to compete at this level and so forth. ¬The thing is I think what’s important is to say with what got you here, do things that you know work for you. Don’t change up much.’’

But Lukas said he has made changes over the years. “I think the one thing we’re probably a little bit better at is reading what we’ve got to work with, making decisions on the individual horse … just read the individual horse a little bit better,’’ he said.

April 27 NOTE: Mr. Z., with exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, had a routine morning, galloping after the renovation break and schooling in the paddock. “I’m going to take him to the paddock every day,’’ trainer Lukas said.

Lukas acknowledged that he’s “completely off’’ the radar for this Derby, in which Mr. Z will be a longshot. “It makes it easier in some ways,’’ he said. “But I roll with it pretty good anyhow. I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie with (the media). It doesn’t make any difference. I’ve been involved with the Derby when I didn’t have a horse. Like last year, I did interviews all morning long, tell them about the other guys.’’

Lukas recalled winning the Derby with horses off the radar, bringing up Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999) as examples.

In 1996, Grindstone, one of five Lukas-trained horses in the race, was part of an entry with Editor’s Note that went off at 5.90-1. In 1999, Lukas ran Charismatic, who was a 31-1 shot, and Cat Thief, who finished third at 7-1. “I thought Charismatic was the better horse, and yet the perception was he wasn’t. … I bet on Charismatic. I didn’t bet on (Cat Thief).’’

Lukas said he didn’t expect Grindstone to run as well he did. “Grindstone was on nobody’s radar screen,’’ Lukas said. “I thought he was the lesser of the bunch.’’

Back then, there wasn’t a training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses, and Lukas took his Derby horses to the track soon after it opened. “Everybody accused me of hiding them,’’ said Lukas, who confirmed, with a laugh, that he wouldn’t do such a thing.

April 28 NOTE: Mr. Z blew out a quarter-mile down the stretch in 24 seconds for trainer Lukas."It puts him on his toes and focuses him,'' Lukas said.

Lukas holds the record with 47 Derby starters by a trainer. On Saturday, he'll be turning to a jockey who is a Derby newcomer –31-year-old Puerto Rican native Ramon Vazquez. Three years ago at Oaklawn Park, Vazquez would stop at Lukas' barn at Oaklawn Park every morning to ask if he could work horses, Lukas said.

"He was trying to get established,'' Lukas said. "Then, I thought he needed to work on his finish, finishing on a horse, but he's gotten that down. He rode really well at Arkansas this year, really well. He's very smart, rides well. He didn't do anything wrong in Arkansas but ride him to perfection, so why would we change?''

Vazquez finished second in the Oaklawn jockeys' standings this year with 51 wins, two behind leader Ricardo Santana Jr. In the Arkansas Derby, Vazquez rode Mr. Z for the first time. He finished third, 8 3/4 lengths behind winner American Pharoah, the likely Kentucky Derby favorite.

Lukas, a former basketball coach, had a visit Tuesday from a basketball coaching legend – former University of Louisville coach Denny Crum. They have been friends since the early 1990s. "Wayne bought the first two horses that I was involved with,'' Crum said. One was Medium Cool, who became a stakes winner.

April 29 NOTE: Mr. Z walked in the shed row for trainer Lukas the day after blowing out two furlongs in 24 seconds. Although Ahmed Zayat's stable also will be represented by likely favorite American Pharoah and El Kabeir, Lukas said Zayat is closely involved with long shot Mr. Z.

"These horses are like his children,'' Lukas said. "He's just absolutely crazy about them all. I'm sure he calls everybody as much as he calls me. He's a great owner. Not only does he have great enthusiasm, but he's knowledgeable. He knows what's going on.''

Mr. Z, of course, is named for the owner. "That's why he's got a certain affinity for him,'' Lukas said.

Post Position Reaction – D. Wayne Lukas, trainer – “I love it. Great post. Just being out there, not being in the gate very long, being able to just pop in there and leave. That's a good spot, great spot.''

April 30 NOTE: After walking Wednesday, Mr. Z returned to the track Thursday for a routine gallop under exercise rider Edvin Vargas for trainer Lukas. Lukas said that Wednesday's draw has given him a hint at how the race might unfold. Specifically, he said, the early running might be favorable for Mr. Z, who'll break from the 17-hole. American Pharoah, the favorite, drew No. 18.

"The thing about it that I think is significant is American Pharoah and Mr. Z are truly the only quicker horses on the outside,'' Lukas said. "Far Right (No. 20), obviously isn't. Then you've got to go all the way down to the 10-hole (Firing Line) to get a quicker horse.

"And so, we're going to have a pretty good run down that outside, I think, being able to dictate what we want to do. And then the other horses who've got speed are inside a little bit, and it's going to compromise them. It's going to be a jam on the clubhouse turn right here. The race is always won or lost right here.''

During the renovation break, Lukas entertained visitors to his barn with racing stories, including one about how jockey Donna Barton, who worked horses for him, had a feel for the 1995 Derby. Lukas ran Thunder Gulch, who was a 21-1 shot, and the 3-1 favored entry of Timber Country and the filly Serena's Song.

"She worked all three of them on a Tuesday morning,'' Lukas said. "We were coming back. I said: 'Donna, you just had the best seat in the house on all three. Which one has got the best chance to win the Derby?' She said, 'This one right here, Thunder Gulch.' And I said, 'Better than Timber Country?’ She said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'You're sure?' She said, 'This is the one you'll get it done with.' I said, 'Well, you're going against a champion.' Sure enough, he gets it done.'
'

May 1 NOTE: Mr. Z galloped under exercise rider Edvin Vargas Friday morning for trainer Lukas. "He did it really well,'' Lukas said.  On Saturday, Lukas will extend his record for Derby starters to 48. Nerves won't be an issue for him, he said. Lukas, 79, will be competing in his 26th Derby. His first Derby starter was Partez, who finished third in 1981.

"I never got nerves for the first one or the last,'' he said. "I just try to get them over there and see what happens. I don't get really excited even during the races. I don't jump up and down and holler. I watch it pretty analytically. I'm analyzing what's going on, pretty much. I don't get that excited.'

May 2, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Mr. Z finished 13th, beaten 15 1/2 lengths by American Pharoah and a time of 2:03.02. The chart call: "MR. Z checked repeatedly off rivals' heels passing the wire the first time, leveled into stride past the seven eighths, was caught four to five wide pursuing the pace, failed to go on leaving the far turn and dropped back."

D. Wayne Lukas: Unavailable for comment.

Ramon Vazquez: "I had a lot of trouble in the first turn and I had to hold my horse. Then I try to take a position, but after a half of mile, my horse was done."

May 10 NOTE: Owner Zayat says Mr. Z will not be entered in the Preakness.

May 13 NOTE: Mr. Z is entered in the Preakness while connections wait for deal selling him to Calumet Farm to be consummated.

May 13 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, “He is entered with Calumet. You always worry about any horse deal until it’s chiseled in stone. We’re dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s. They have reached an agreement. I’ve been on the phone negotiating and doing the dialogue. I’m just the messenger in this case. He’s doing well. I galloped him over the track this morning and he handled it really well. I don’t know that I pushed the sale. The sale just came through conversation and dialogue. Mr. Z is a pretty well-bred horse. He might be the best bred horse in the Preakness if you look at it real critically. Brad flat asked me, ‘Would you run him,’ and I said if I owned him, I’d run him.”

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Lukas said, “It's fine. There's a long run to the turn, so I don't think it's that significant. We're going to probably be forwardly placed. We've got a horse on the outside of us, a couple of them, that haven't got a lot of speed, so I think we'll be OK from there. It's a good spot. I was very pleased with it. He didn't get any chance to run in the Derby. I think he'll run a good race. He didn't get a lot out of the Derby, and he's training well. We'll give him a shot. I've been lucky here before.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, “Oxbow was a lot more aggressive than this horse. He liked to have things his own way,” Lukas said of the colt who had finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby. “This horse is a little more manageable. (Mr. Z) never got a chance to run in the Derby. He is coming into the race beautifully, the same way Oxbow did.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, “He was good in the paddock, and he was breathing fire when he came out of there, because he knew he was going to get to do something. He is better than I have ever seen him. He is really doing well here. He trained on one practically all winter at Oaklawn Park. He likes an off track. I never have seen this track as deep as it is now and if it gets some water on it, it would help it. There is no way to choreograph or script the way you want a race to run. There are five horses in there that have similar styles. I just want him to break clean and get a chance to run. If we are on the board, I will be very happy."

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. On a sloppy track, Mr. Z went right with eventual winner American Pharoah from the gate and hounded him into the far turn before fading to a fifth-place finish, beaten 17 1/4 lengths. It was the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

D. Wayne Lukas: “The adverse conditions likely affected seven of eight horses. It obviously didn’t bother the winner. My horse ran very well. He was well-placed and I thought he actually might finish second. I’ve said it since March, [American Pharoah] is special, and this might be the year.”

Corey Nakatani: “He ran dynamite today and did everything he could to take on the winner under the circumstances. He was in it and really ran great. That winner is a really nice horse. It was very wet, sloppy and water was everywhere. The track was in good condition, considering the water. We did everything we could against the winner, but he is a very nice horse. I had a great trip other than I felt like I should have been on a shark or a dolphin.”

The chart call: "MR. Z pressed outside the winner the opening quarter mile, allowed that one to open up entering the backstretch, advanced to reach contention three wide between horses entering the far turn, failed to keep pace past the five sixteenths pole, shifted to the inner rail entering the stretch and tired in upper stretch."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

On June 28 at Churchill Downs, Mr. Z won his career debut going six furlongs in 1:11.76. He rated in second, angled out and prevailed by a half-length over Louisiana Brown with Hashtag Bourbon almost three more lenths back in third.

Although he had only that one victory in eight starts as a 2-year-old, Mr. Z earned nearly $500,000 and finished second or third in five of his seven appearances in graded stakes.

Mr. Z was second to Big Trouble in the Sanford on July 19.

Favored I Spent It dove through a narrow opening on the rail and went on to post a decisive 2 3/4-length victory over Mr. Z in the Saratoga Special on Aug. 10 at Saratoga. Mr. Z was five lengths clear of W V Jetsetter.

Justin Zayat, racing manager for Zayat Stables, after the Saratoga Special: "He's a really good horse. He's going to show it over time. He's tough, you know? He takes his bumping every time. But you can't beat Tony Dutrow; he keeps doing this to me. Two turns is what our horse needs. As soon as we go two turns, we'll see a different type of horse."

Sept. 3 NOTE: “I got out and thought I was home free but (I Spent It) just came and beat us,” said Corey Lanerie. “I think we just hit a freak. Take him out of the race and my horse looks like a superstar. I think Mr. Z is a really, really nice horse, and ... two turns will help him a whole lot. I think he’s got a big future."

On Sept. 6, going two turns for the first time in the Iroquois Stakes, moved from a mile to 1 1/6 mile at Churchill Downs, Mr. Z finished fifth, beaten 9 3/4 lengths, after setting the pace for six furlongs.

On Oct. 4, Mr. Z came running late to get a non-threatening second to Carpe Diem in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. He was long odds, just short of 20-1.

Jon Court: “The winner made his winning move on the backside. He was out there all alone and wasn’t coming back to anyone. I had a good trip, but we weren’t going to catch the winner.”

Next was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Mr. Z finished fifth, beaten 8 1/4 lengths, after running in third position into the stretch. He started losing ground before reaching the furlong marker.

In the Delta Jackpot, the 5-2 favorite Ocho Ocho Ocho defeated second choice Mr. Z by a nose in a thrilling stretch drive. Ocho Ocho Ocho remained undefeated in three starts in his first attempt around two turns. A claim of foul by Corey Lanerie on third finisher Far Right resulted in no change. The time was 1:45.47. Mr. Z. was never far back. Meanwhile, Ocho Ocho Ocho saved ground up the backstretch in fourth place behind a solid pace set by Conquest Tsunami and Prime Engine, Smith moved Ocho Ocho Ocho to the front at the far turn through three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.48, but Mr. Z was determined and didn't give up. Ocho Ocho Ocho held a half-length advantage into the stretch where he hooked up with Mr. Z.

The Los Alamitos Futurity finished with Dortmund a head in front of Firing Line and Mr. Z a nose back at the wire. Five ran. Dortmund completed the 1 1/16 mile in a track record 1:40.86.  Positioned third in the clear while Mr. Z. set the pace accompanied by Firing Line, Dortmund rallied outside his rivals in the final eighth of a mile and was able to win the hard-fought decision. Mr. Z was 8 1/4 lengths in front of Bench Warrant, the longest shot in the field at 43-1. Mr. Z lugged out badly in the stretch and bumped Firing Line several times.

Dec. 23 NOTE: Mr. Z is now at Oaklawn. Trainer Lukas said he's looking at a 2015 debut in the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 16.

 

 

TALE OF VERVE (KY)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: Charles E. Fipke
Breeder: Charles E. Fipke
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tale of Ekati (Tale of the Cat, Silence Beauty)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Verve (Unbridled, Mrs. Marcos)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-7-8-2-2 (26) 2.25
Foal Date: April 12, 2012


WORKOUTS
On May 4, Tale of Verve breezed five in 1:01.20 (16/27) at CD.
On May 10, Tale of Verve breezed five in 1:00.40 (5/25) at CD.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Tale of Verve lost three times, then broke his maiden in his sixth start, a maiden special weight at Keeeland on April 23, only nine days before the Kentucky Derby.

Those first three races were all at Fair Grounds going two turns. He came in seventh to Vici on Jan. 1, fourth to Bluff on Jan. 22 and second to Deliverance on March 5.

April 29 NOTE: A surprise horse joined the possible Kentucky Derby field when Tale of Verve was entered Wednesday morning by trainer Stewart. The colt's victory at a long distance and his affinity for the Churchill Downs surface were reasons for wanting to take a shot at the Derby, Stewart said. A son of Tale of Ekati and the Unbridled mare Verve, Tale of Verve has run only in maiden races, two last year and four this year. The Keeneland race was at a mile and three-sixteenths, and he won by two lengths.

Tale of Verve, whose only victory came in a maiden race at Keeneland in his most recent start on April 23, ranks 22nd in Derby qualifying points, with 0, among the 22 horses entered. He'll be the second also-eligible runner when post positions are drawn later Wednesday, and won't draw into the race unless two horses are scratched before 9 a.m. Friday.  Tale of Verve worked five furlongs April 5 in 59.40 seconds, the fastest of 21 workouts at the distance that day. On April 12, he worked five furlongs in 59.80, the second-fastest workout of 38 at the distance.

"I know it's a longshot for him to get in the race, but we'll still get a shot,'' Stewart said. "The horse had two nice works here going into that race, and he's trained phenomenal after the race,'' Stewart said. "He's won going farther than any horse in America except that horse from Dubai,'' Stewart said. "It was a mile and three-sixteenths. The other races were a mile and an eighth. They were better races, don't get me wrong, but he's a fit, sound horse.'
'

April 30 NOTE: Tale of Verve, the surprise Derby entrant that is the remaining horse on the also-eligible list, galloped a mile-and-three eighths Thursday under exercise rider Emerson Chavez. Stewart said that the idea to consider the Derby for Tale of Verve was hatched in a conversation with owner-breeder Charles Fipke after the colt won a mile-and-three sixteenths maiden race April 23 at Keeneland. Tale of Verve has one win, one second and two thirds, all against maidens, in six career starts.

If the colt doesn't make the field, "We'll look at the Preakness; we'll look at the Belmont,'' trainer Stewart said. "If you don't get in, you get your money back on Friday, so it doesn't cost you anything to enter. Then you have to think about if you want to run or not. I train horses. And I train them to run. So that's my job. I told him that his horse has the talent, and he'll be finishing.''

"I always believed in the horse,'' Stewart said. "If you go back to his first race, he got left in the gates with Rosie. It was only seven furlongs. But he went the last quarter in like 21-and-change. I was just blown away by it.' Then I ran him long. He ran OK first time long. He was third here. Then I took him down to the Fair Grounds.''

Troubled trips cost Tale of Verve in his first two races in New Orleans, Stewart said. "Then he just started developing. The races were just too short for him. He was always finishing, but the race was over. It wasn't his fault he wasn't winning.” Tale of Verve displayed his stamina in his victory at Keeneland. “I thought he ran terrific. He came back. He was not blowing. He was not exerted,” Stewart said.

May 1 NOTE: Tale of Verve won't be racing in the Kentucky Derby. Because no horses were scratched before 9 a.m. Friday, Tale of Verve won't draw into the race from the also-eligible list. He galloped Friday under exercise rider Emerson Chavez for trainer Stewart, who said he's planning to work Tale of Verve on Sunday morning.

May 8 NOTE: Mentioned yesterday as possible for the Preakness. Galloped today at Churchill Downs. “I talked with the owner last night. There were a lot of horses that ran bad races (in the Derby), and it wasn’t like they were flying home with the last quarter in :26," trainer Stewart said. "The longer the better for him. If he doesn’t gallop a long way, he doesn’t get a lot out of it.”

May 9 NOTE: Galloped 1 5/8 mile at Churchill Downs.

May 10 NOTE: Trainer Stewart confirmed Tale of Verve for the Preakness and said he'll be on a Wednesday morning flight to Baltimore. Stewart made the call after Tale of Verve breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 (5/25) at Churchill Downs. He worked in company with stable mate Lemon Drop Title, who was also timed in 1:00.40. Fractions for Tale of Verve were 12.60, 24.60, and 36.60, out six furlongs in 1:14.60. Lemon Drop Title, who has been pointed to the Sir Barton Stakes, was out in 1:15.60. Joel Rosario was named to ride Tale of Verve.

May 11 NOTE: Tale of Verve walked the shedrow a day after working five furlongs in company in 1:00.40. “This fits right into our schedule,” trainer Stewart said of the walk day. “He’ll train Tuesday and Wednesday and fly Wednesday and won’t miss a beat.”

May 12 NOTE: Trainer Stewart said, “I was going to jog him today, but, instead, had him gallop an easy mile and a half. He’ll jog in the morning and load at the barn at 10.”

May 13 NOTE: Tale of Verve walked under tack in trainer Dallas Stewart’s shedrow today before being shipped to Baltimore.

Post Position Reaction: Trainer Stewart said, “My post position is fine. We’re in the middle. and he’s a come-from-behind horse.”

May 14 NOTE: Trainer Stewart said, “We are good to go. He picked it up the last time through the stretch and Kortez said he didn’t want to stop. I don’t know how he would do on (an off track). He has trained on off tracks, but whether he will run hard on it is another thing.”

May 15 NOTE: Trainer Stewart said, “He went very smoothly today. It was basically a repeat of what he did yesterday. A lot of them have the same style, and I wouldn’t think we’d see a :48 half-mile or 1:12 for three-quarters. I think the pace will be more realistic like :46 and three-quarters in 1:10, and if they go quick, we will be far back. It looks like he has handled all the activity and hard training well. He just has to get in there and fight and run against the best horses. It is time to see what he has. I believed in him all winter, and you make adjustments as you go.”

May 16, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. Tale of Verve trailed the field by 17 1/2 lengths after a half-mile but finished second to American Pharoah by seven lengths in the slowest Preakness since 1956, timed in 1:58.46 on a sloppy track. It was the slowest Preakness since 1956, when Fabius got the win in 1:58 2/5.

Dallas Stewart: “What a horse. I had no idea where he was in the race. He’s a tremendous horse. He’s getting better all the time. Congratulations to the winner. We will see him at Belmont. I think this validated what he is. He’s an improving horse. It was a wonderful run.”

Joel Rosario: “I had a good trip, perfect trip. The further we went he kept picking it up. It was a great race for him. He ran a very big race.”

The chart call: TALE OF VERVE , well back for the opening five furlongs, had a mild advance along the rail on the far turn, eased out entering the stretch, drifted to the four path under left hand whipping in upper stretch, altered to the inside of DIVINING ROD near the sixteenth pole and rallied."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Tale of Verve raced twice, finishing third going seven furlongs at Keeneland and third going 1 1/16 mile at Churchill Downs. The latter race was won by Curlino.

 

 

 

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