Preakness Prospects Pick Up Pace
With eight days remaining until Preakness 141, activity picked up among the dozen or so prospects for the race.
At Churchill Downs, Collected worked solo, going seven furlongs in 1:24.80 over the main track labeled good Friday morning.
With Miguel Mena up for trainer Bob Baffert, Collected broke off at the five-eighths pole and produced fractions of :23.80, :35.80, :47.80, 1:00, 1:12.60, 1:24.80 and galloped out a mile in 1:38.60.
“I’d say we are ready. We’re good to go,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert. “Bob wanted a good seven-eighths and out a mile, and he did it pretty handily.”
Collected is scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Tuesday.
Other Friday morning activity involving Preakness probables and possibles at Churchill Downs included:
--A walk day for Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator after also walking the shedrow on Thursday. “
Keith decided to give him an extra walk day,” said assistant Julie Clark. “He will gallop Saturday and ship Sunday. Keith is going to be at Pimlico Monday, and the idea has been tossed around of a light, half-mile breeze Tuesday.
“He has a lot of energy,” Clark said. “He is not mean; just playful, and I like that. He has limitless energy, and I am like, ‘Are you tired yet?’ ”
--A 1 1/2-mile gallop for third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Gun Runner. The Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner is yet to be confirmed as a definite for the Preakness.
“We still don’t know; it’s up to Steve,” said Doug Cauthen, Vice Chairman of Three Chimneys Farm.
Asmussen was not at Churchill Downs Friday morning.
--A 1 1/2-mile gallop for Fellowship and Cherry Wine, and a 1 3/8-mile gallop for Dazzling Gem.
Cherry Wine and Dazzling Gem are expected to work Saturday morning.
Stradivari, Uncle Lino Breeze
Stradivari and Uncle Lino had their final serious tune-ups for the Preakness on Friday morning.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Stradivari, who is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Preakness, breezed five furlongs in 59.60 over a fast track at Belmont Park.
“He worked very well. I’m very pleased with the way he went. He’s had three very good breezes since his allowance win, and right now we’re still considering the Preakness,” Pletcher said.
The 3-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in his second career start Dec. 5, then returned off a four-month layoff to handily vanquish first-level allowance runners by 14 1/2 lengths on April 17 at Keeneland.
“He’s a horse that we’ve thought a lot of for quite a while, so it was sort of in the back of our minds leading up to the allowance race that hopefully bigger things were to come,” Pletcher said. “We were expecting a good effort, but that even exceeded our expectations. Once he did that and came out of it well, the Preakness became a consideration.”
Uncle Lino, who set a track record at Los Alamitos while winning the 1 1/16-mile California Chrome Stakes in 1:40.82 on April 30, breezed five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00.80 Friday morning.
Trained by Gary Sherlock, the son of Uncle Mo, who previously finished third behind Exaggerator in the Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to ship from Southern California to Pimlico Tuesday.
Nyquist stretched his legs during a morning gallop at Pimlico on Friday morning. Ridden by exercise rider Jonny Garcia, he backtracked with a pony to the top of the first turn before reversing direction and galloping approximately a mile.
“Jonny was very happy with him, which is the main thing. He was much more relaxed early on in his gallop and then finished up strong. He’s cooled out super. We’re very happy the way the morning went,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “Tomorrow, he’ll jog two miles. We’ll just alternate the jogging and galloping. With two weeks in between, there’s no reason to do much more.”
Nyquist has impressed O’Neill with his post-Derby physical condition.
“I just noticed that he hasn’t changed much. He’s held his weight well, and I think that’s a credit to the Derby being such a trouble-free, clean trip. It enabled him not to use more energy than he needed to. I hope the trip he got helps us in the race here, for sure,” O’Neill said. “He’s eating great. His appetite is strong; his energy is great. He’s really relaxed here. He has good energy on the track, so I’m really happy the way he’s coming into it.
“He’s so mature. I think we got to see that as a 2-year-old. He’s been a horse that acts older than he is. To win five grade 1s over five different tracks is pretty phenomenal,” O’Neill said. “He’s adjusted to things here at Pimlico. He’s settled in. Our 24-hour security guards are even mentioning how he’s sleeping all night. We’re just very happy the way he’s matured.”
Team O’Neill was planning to attend the Orioles-Tigers baseball game Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“Being from Detroit and loving Baltimore, it’s a perfect matchup,” said Michigan native O’Neill.
Romans Feeling Better
Things did not go all that well for trainer Dale Romans on Derby day, but he's in better spirits now.
Romans saddled Brody’s Cause to a seventh-place effort in the Derby. That night, he was driving on Southern Parkway around 10:30 p.m. when an SUV ran a stop sign and collided with his vehicle, causing it to spin into the path of a truck that T-boned Romans’ car on the passenger side. The collision sent three of his five passengers to the hospital.
Romans only suffered from a pulled muscle in his ribcage. John Hennegan, director of the documentary The First Saturday in May, suffered broken ribs; Kurt Paseka, a former contributor to the Thoroughbred Times, sustained a fractured pelvis, and Paseka’s sister, Kyle, suffered a fractured vertebrae. The other two passengers, Jim Sugrue and Christina Lopez, were not seriously injured.
“I feel much better,” Romans said Friday morning. “Today was the first day that I started feeling better. I’m still sore on my ribs and on my back. I think the medication is finally starting to kick in so I’m starting to feel a lot better.
“We missed our first Sunday that I can remember of driving around the infield and just looking at and checking out all the garbage from Derby Day. But it was a good time to sit back and relax. The best thing, even though I wasn’t able to answer everybody, were all the well wishes that I got the following day. That makes me feel appreciated. There was no way I could have answered everybody but it was great to hear from people. I heard from so many of my peers, like Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill. Baffert texted me right after he got off the plane.”
Romans stated there was a lesson to be learned from his frightening accident.
“My newest thing is to just make sure that you always wear your seatbelt,” Romans said.
Lani seems to like it Belmont Park. Lani will return to New York immediately after the Preakness in preparation for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
"He's settled in very well," said spokesperson Keita Tanaka, who added, "He likes the surroundings here. It's nice and quiet. When we were at Churchill last week, there were a lot of people in the barns so he seems to like it much better here and he definitely likes the bigger track."
Suddenbreakingnews to Belmont
"Barring anything dramatic happening in the next few days with who's running in the Preakness, we're pointing to the Belmont next," said trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel on Friday morning. "He's his same self. His energy level seems to be good, and he seems to be feeling good.
"We'll have a couple of works I'm sure between now and then but we don't have it scheduled right now," said Von Hemel. "We'll keep an eye on how he's training, how's he eating, the weather, all of that, before we decide. I probably won't know until a day or two beforehand. We might ship in maybe about a week before and let him get accustomed to the surrounding. He's been a champ in that respect, nothing ever bothers him, so that should be plenty."
Destin to Belmont
Destin is being pointed to the Belmont Stakes, trainer Todd Pletcher said of the Derby sixth-place finisher.
"I thought he came out of it very well, and seems to have settled in here at Belmont," Pletcher said.
Edited Churchill Downs, Maryland Jockey Club and NYRA Notes