Preakness Stakes contenders Owendale, Signalman and Warrior’s Charge topped Saturday morning’s worktab at Churchill Downs, and Anothertwistafate breezed at Golden Gate.
Lexington Stakes winner Owendale was the first Preakness contender to breeze after being sent out at 5:30 ET. He recorded a five-furlong bullet move in 59.20 (1/31). Trained by Brad Cox, Owendale clipped through initial splits of 12.40, 24.00 and 46.80, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“The track was really good this morning,” said Cox, who was joined on the Stakes Room balcony by eight clients and friends. “I think both horses are ready to roll. Owendale has been doing phenomenal following the Lexington. He has that built-in foundation from the race that will suit him well in the Preakness.
“I feel like Owendale is still figuring it out,” he added. “He’s definitely hitting his best stride midway through his 3-year-old year. It’s not just about next Saturday. It’s about going on and developing him as the year goes on.”
About five minutes later, Owendale’s stablemate, Oaklawn Park allowance winner Warrior’s Charge, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 after setting initial fractions of 12.60, 24.60 and 48.60. According to Nichols, he galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20.
The ownership of Warrior’s Charge would have to pay $150,000 to supplement to the Preakness Stakes because he wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown.
“Warrior’s Charge should be able to handle the extra distance and is showing us he’s on an upward trend. That’s why we decided to supplement him. He didn’t run in any of the Derby preps, so he had some time to develop and grow into himself," Cox said.
“As far as a trainer, it wasn’t going to be anything different with what I did with the horse,” Cox said. “I was preparing him for the Sir Barton, and they brought this up. The bottom line is: He fits. We’re going to give him the opportunity. He’ll be forwardly placed, that’s what we’re hoping for. Javier Castellano will ride him. I think if he can get the right trip and back things down, be close – not necessarily on the lead, but if he is, that’s OK – and carry his speed a mile and three-sixteenths.”
Warrior’s Charge has never been in a stakes, let alone a Grade 1. So it speaks to his potential that the stable was able to land Castellano, a two-time Preakness winner and Hall of Fame jockey.
“His figures stack up with these horses,” Cox said. “That’s why we’re looking at this. He’s a very nice horse, tons of potential. We’re jumping into the deep end of the pool. But we do think there’s a lot of talent and potential there.
About two hours later, Signalman breezed a half-mile in 47.60 in company with Indian Counselor, who was timed in 48.00.
Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard Signalman for the work and is scheduled to ride him in the Preakness for trainer Kenny McPeek.
“He went along like we wanted him to and finished up well and went on and galloped out,” Hernandez said. "He’s always been a big, good-looking horse, and it seems like he’s getting bigger and stronger. Everything we’ve asked him to do so far, he’s done – between only having the two preps in the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass. He’s getting better and better, it seems. We’re just looking at the Preakness and see what he can come up with.
“The Blue Grass was a good effort for having the one race going into it. I thought he ran a respectable race. He might have gotten a little tired late, just because it was only his second race of the year. He gave us an honest effort.
Asked about the prospective Preakness field, McPeek quipped, “I’m really happy that Pimlico doesn’t use the points system like Churchill Downs and I don’t have to worry about getting in. Eleven is a good number. It should be a great race. There are some good horses running. I think some of the horses that didn’t run in the Derby are going to run big in this one. Then, we’ll all probably get hooked up at Belmont, too. It’s ever-changing this time of year. You get horses that peak before the Derby, some during and some after. It’s part of the process and challenge of it all.”
A total of seven contenders for the Preakness are based at Churchill Downs including a trio of runners from the Kentucky Derby: Improbable, War of Will and Bodexpress.
Oaklawn Invitational winner Laughing Fox, who resides in Steve Asmussen’s Barn 38, is also being pointed to the Preakness.
At Golden Gate in northern California, Anothertwistafate breezed six furlongs in 1.14:20 on the synthetic track, fastest of eight at the distance, for trainer Blaine Wright.
Edited release with additional content by Dick Downey