Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Daily Preakness Update: Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Compiled and edited by Dick Downey
THURSDAY MORNING SCHEDULES
6:00 Market King, Anothertwistafate and Bourbon War go to track
6:20 Laughing Fox to track
6:30 Owendale and Signalman to track
7:00 Warrior’s Charge to track
8:30 Improbable, War of Will and Bodexpress to track
Trainer Mark Casse will be available to the media at approximately 9 a.m.
Trainer Kelly Rubley will be available to the media at approximately noon
ALWAYSMINING -- Alwaysmining, stabled at Fair Hill Training Center, will be vanned to Pimlico Thursday morning.
As for his trainer, when the 2000s began, Kelly Rubley seemed destined for a life of academia. But, even as she climbed the ladder from middle school science teacher to administrator, the horses kept calling. Before the decade was over, Rubley answered the call. She left behind the security of a career in education for the unpredictability of Thoroughbred racing, and she hasn’t looked back.
“You can try to get horses out of your life, but you just can’t do it,” Rubley said. “Once you start, they’re always there.”
In just her fifth full year as a trainer, Rubley has the chance to make racing history and become the first female trainer to win the Preakness Stakes when she saddles the multiple-stakes winner Alwaysmining.
The Preakness has previously featured only 15 female trainers, and none since Kid Cruz ran eighth for New York-based Linda Rice in 2014.
Nancy Alberts had the best finish for a female trainer when 45-1 long shot Magic Weisner ran second by less than a length to Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem in 2002. Like Magic Weisner, Alwaysmining has the chance to be the first Maryland-bred to win the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983, and just the ninth overall.
“That’s an exciting aspect. It certainly will be a great accomplishment for women in the industry if we’re very successful here. Sure, it plays a role,” Rubley said. “I think the biggest struggle is when we’re first starting out, it’s tough to earn a little bit of respect as a woman in the business.
“But, I feel like most people have been very fair and offered me an equal opportunity as most men. Certainly there’s always a few, but honestly there’s nothing we can do about it so we just move forward,” she added. “I think women are becoming more accepted in the industry at this point. It’s a male-dominated sport, for sure.”
Runnymede Racing’s Greg and Caroline Bentley are huge fans of Rubley. After purchasing Alwaysmining privately following his maiden victory last summer, they ran the horse once with trainer Eddie Graham – who trained their 2014 Arlington Million winner Hardest Core – before joining forces with Rubley.
The results have been fun for the principals. After Alwaysmining finished off the board in his first start for Rubley in the Laurel Futurity on grass, the 3-year-old Stay Thirsty gelding has reeled off six straight wins, five of them in stakes, capped by an 11 1/2-length romp in the Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel Park, earning him an automatic berth in the Preakness.
“What a wonderful story there is around Kelly and her operation and her people here. An entrepreneur, advanced degrees, and certainly a student of what she does. We don’t know everything, we continue to learn more, and that’s been the case,” co-owner Greg Bentley said.
“I think a factor also for a trainer is, we’re observing this and learning it ourselves, is to be of good empathy with the horses, which is obviously the case, but also with the people who are here in this operation,” he added. “That’s what, in business, bringing it all together requires – getting people and horses to do the right thing, and Kelly has excelled at that.”
Caroline Bentley feels Rubley’s background plays a large part in her success. A native of the small central New York town of Pulaski, N.Y., not far from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, Rubley graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry, later earning Master’s degrees in secondary education and administration.
Following graduation, Rubley found work teaching eighth-grade physical science and biology near her hometown for seven years before making the switch to administrator, a position she held for another three until the urge to follow her dream became too strong to resist.
“Kelly’s a scientist. She’s looking for data. She’s looking for more information,” Caroline Bentley said. “She never comes with a preconceived notion about anything. It’s always, ‘What can we find out?’”
Rubley handles a string of about 40 horses now, including multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero, who gave the trainer her lone graded-stakes victory in the 2018 Arlington Handicap. Her experience with him, as well as her former mentors, prepared Rubley for when Alwaysmining came along.
“When I was an assistant we had some nice horses, when I was with Barclay and Jimmy Toner. It’s a horse and you treat him the same,” she said. “But we got lucky with this one.”
Soft-spoken and even-keeled, Rubley has not allowed herself to think about what it would be like to be the first female trainer to win the Preakness, or add a Triple Crown race victory to her resume. Like her horse, she’s taking everything as it comes.
“Of course, we’re excited. But, we’re not there yet. We’ll talk on Saturday,” she said. “We’re hoping. We’re hoping.”
ANOTHERTWISTAFATE -- Anothertwistafate completed his transcontinental trip to Pimlico Tuesday evening and took his first steps on the track surface about 11 hours later on Wednesday morning. The Scat Daddy colt flew from Oakland, Calif. to Newark, N.J. and rode in a van for the final leg of his journey to Baltimore. Trainer Blaine Wright’s crew was waiting for him when he arrived at 8 p.m.
Wright said Anothertwistafate looked like he handled the trip well and was ready to get out of his stall for some light exercise at Pimlico. He went out to the track a little after 7 a.m.
“We turned the corner here and he was just getting up from a roll and actually squealed and bucked and played,” Wright said. “He was right at the front of the stall and was biting at us. We checked his (feed) tub; it was good. He seemed awfully sharp, so we just decided to take him out and let him stretch his legs for a little jog and have a little green grass.”
Anothertwistafate made one slow turn around the track. He is scheduled to gallop and school in the gate Thursday and Friday.
Anothertwistafate is the first Preakness starter for veteran owner Peter Redekop, a prominent real estate developer in Vancouver, B.C., and the first Triple Crown horse developed by 44-year-old trainer Wright.
Redekop’s team acquired the colt for $360,000 as a 2-year-old at the OBS June 2018 sale and sent him to Wright, who is based year-round at Golden Gate Fields, the Bay Area track in Northern California. He was ninth in his debut at Santa Anita in November, but then reeled off three impressive wins at Golden Gate, topped by a seven-length victory in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 16. The El Camino Real Derby is a “win and in” race for the Preakness.
Wright sent Anothertwistafate on the Kentucky Derby prep trail, where he was second by a neck in the Sunland Derby and second in the Lexington at Keeneland. With that seasoning, the trip across country this week was not a concern.
“He flew over to us from Florida so he already had the experience of flying,” Wright said. “He went to Sunland and then on to Lexington and back to Golden Gate. He knows what the deal is. Most of these horses do at this stage of the game. They’ve done it. They’re smart. He seems to travel good. He’s not one that gets real bothered by that and that’s a good thing.”
Wright said that having the El Camino Real Derby and the Preakness linked for the first time this year was a huge factor in getting his colt to the Triple Crown and preparing for the race.
“We got to run at our home base and showcase our horse, and now we’re here,” he said. “If we can do good here maybe more people will use that type of a race for Golden Gate and put them on the map a little bit more as a springboard to the Preakness. If it’s successful, you would figure they would come back and do it again.”
Knowing that Anothertwistafate was assured a Preakness berth but probably was short of Kentucky Derby qualifying points enabled Wright to take him back to California and prepare for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“For us, that was one of the deciding factors of whether to wait for the Derby and see if we got in versus coming here, a ‘win and you’re in’ type of thing,” he said. “That speaks volumes when you can get into a race and it doesn’t cost you as much. And the two-week run back was a huge concern if we didn’t run good (in the Derby) because then you kind of spoil your plans for the race you are paid into. That was a big, big factor.”
The El Camino Real Derby was one of three qualifying races for this year’s Preakness with the Federico Tesio, won by Alwaysmining at Laurel Park, and the inaugural Oaklawn Park Invitational won by Laughing Fox.
BODEXPRESS -- Trainer Gustavo Delgado hopes he’ll be partying like it’s 1888 after the Preakness.
The Delgado-trained Bodexpress will try to become the first maiden to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown since Refund defeated three rivals in 1888.
“I think in his [first] five races, he had bad luck. He came to win three times,” said Delgado, the all-time winningest trainer in his native Venezuela before venturing to South Florida five years ago.
In his race prior to his sharp second-place showing in the Florida Derby, Bodexpress was bumped at the start and raced four wide before closing strongly to finish second, a neck behind the winner.
“The (Derby) was very, very crazy. He had bad luck,” Delgado said. “I think the horse ran a good race. Now, in the morning, he’s been very good. The rider said he’s happy, happy all the time.”
Bodexpress had a leisurely gallop at Pimlico on Wednesday, the morning after arriving at Pimlico following a flight from Lexington, Ky.
“Gulfstream’s track is fast, very fast. This track seems like Gulfstream. Churchill Downs is a little deeper,” said Delgado. “This horse likes a fast track.”
John Velazquez will ride Bodexpress for the first time Saturday.
BOURBON WAR -- The Mark Hennig-trained Bourbon War arrived at Pimlico by van from New York on Wednesday afternoon.
EVERFAST -- Calumet Farm’s Everfast became a last-minute addition to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1), bringing the field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to 13 horses. Joel Rosario, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) on Orb and the 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) on Tonalist, has the mount.
“It’s a wide-open field, take a shot,” trainer Dale Romans said by phone from Louisville.
Romans saddled Shackleford for a triumph in the 2011 Preakness Stakes.
Everfast is scheduled to arrive by van from Louisville.
IMPROBABLE -- Improbable arrived at Pimlico Wednesday afternoon, accompanied by fillies Fighting Mad and The Aurelia Factor, both entered on Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day program. Improbable was led off the van by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes shortly before 4:00 following a five-hour trip from Churchill Downs.
“He shipped very well. He settled right in. It’s a short trip, so that shouldn’t be any factor for him,” Barnes said. “He’s a good shipper. It’s only an hour flight. The van rides to and from the airport and from airport are almost as long as the plane trip, so it’s really nothing.”
Improbable, fifth and placed fourth in the Kentucky Derby, is winless in three starts this year. He was second in the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes.
“He came out of the race in good shape. It was horrible conditions. The track was just a sloppy mess,” Barnes said. “My feelings on the race, maybe he needed to be a little closer. He just got behind horses and was getting hit with a lot of dirt. But, that race is behind us and we’ve moved on to Baltimore now. We look forward to capturing this race if we can.”
Baffert won last year’s Preakness with eventual Triple Crown champion Justify.
“We enjoy coming to Baltimore each and every year. They take very good care of us up here,” Barnes said. “It is a little special coming in off of last year’s Justify win, and we’re here to make it happen again for us.”
Barnes said Improbable will get his first look at Pimlico’s main track Thursday morning and that Baffert was expected to arrive later in the day.
“He’ll just have his normal gallop routine. He’ll gallop a mile and a half probably,” he said. “I’ll discuss it with Bob. We brought a few other horses here so they’ll probably go out first and he’ll probably go out first after the break.”
Preakness contenders Laughing Fox, Owendale and Warrior’s Charge, also on the flight from Louisville, Ky. to Baltimore, arrived in a second van immediately after Improbable.
LAUGHING FOX -- Preakness contenders Laughing Fox, Owendale and Warrior’s Charge arrived at Pimlico in a second van immediately after Improbable got there. They all were flown from Louisville today. Trainer Steve Asmussen was on hand to watch Laughing Fox walk and settle into Pimlico’s Stakes Barn.
“He made it in in good shape. He’s got a very good attitude and the weather couldn’t be any nicer than it is right now, so hopefully we’ll have a good week,” Asmussen said. “Laughing Fox will go to the track in the morning when it’s warm enough where we can give him a bath.”
Laughing Fox figures to be closing late in the Preakness. The son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags started to come into his own over the winter at Oaklawn Park, which coincided with being sent around two turns.
Laughing Fox whipped off maiden and allowance victories before finishing seventh in a division of the Rebel Stakes, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, and then capturing the Oaklawn Invitational the same day as the Kentucky Derby. That earned the flashy-looking chestnut an automatic entry into the Preakness Stakes.
“He ran very well in the Arkansas Derby,” said assistant trainer Darren Fleming, who was with Laughing Fox all winter while overseeing trainer Steve Asmussen’s Oaklawn operation. “That was an encouraging race; he got in a little trouble. If you watch it, he had to alter course a couple of times and he finished up nice that day. That’s when the light bulb went off. Then he came back and ran really well. He’s a horse who has progressed very well through the year, except for the one setback with the Rebel.”
Laughing Fox twice lost to Omaha Beach, the Arkansas Derby winner who was the Kentucky Derby favorite until being sidelined with a breathing obstruction the week of the race. Also in the Arkansas Derby was runner-up Improbable, the likely Preakness favorite, while finishing third was Country House, who wound up being declared the Kentucky Derby winner.
“He’s just gotten better with racing every time, kind of learned his style,” Fleming said. “I mean, Laughing Fox has kept good company all year, if you just look around.”
MARKET KING -- Time tends to stand still at the far end of the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico, trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ base of operations for almost 40 years.
Now an elder statesman of the sport, Lukas was a brash up-and-comer in Thoroughbred racing when he brought Codex to the 1980 Preakness. Codex was assigned Stall 18, gave Lukas the first of his six Preakness wins and 14 Triple Crown victories, and that part of the barn has been Lukas territory ever since.
Wednesday morning Lukas sat in a chair at the edge of the shedrow and kept an eye on Market King, his record 44th Preakness runner, as he peered out of Stall 18 and fiddled with his hay net.
Lukas, 83, accompanied the colt, co-owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, on a day-long trip by van from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course Tuesday and began his local preparations for the 144th Preakness. Typically, Lukas sent his colt out early Wednesday, shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m. under exercise rider Brooke Stillion.
“I jogged him a lap and galloped him a mile,” Lukas said. “I wasn’t going to take him because I figured after an 11-hour road trip it might be good to give him a walk day. But he was also sharp and kind of touted me that I should do a little something with him.”
Market King was third in a division of the Rebel March 16, but was briefly on the Kentucky Derby trail. He was 11th in the Blue Grass on April 6. He was scratched from the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day, and has had two sharp five-furlong breezes since.
“He’s a fresh horse,” Lukas said. “I think he’s probably on his game pretty good.”
The Preakness is a high-profile proving ground for Market King, a son of Into Mischief, who Baker and Mack acquired for $550,000 as a yearling.
“We’re trying to find out something here,” Lukas said. “I know he is a really nice, talented miler. I want to try here because I think if he’s going to get a mile and three-sixteenths he’s probably going to get it here. At least it will be a good test against world-class competition, the ones that are showing up here. It will answer some questions whether we’re going to start running in the King’s Bishop or the Travers or the Ohio Derby. We’re trying to find that out.”
Veteran Jon Court, 58, who has been up on the colt for three of his eight career races, will be aboard in the Preakness.
OWENDALE, WARRIOR'S CHARGE -- Trainer Brad Cox said he is confident that Owendale, who won the Lexington at Keeneland, and Warrior’s Charge, an Oaklawn Park allowance winner, will offer big performances in Saturday’s Preakness. The stablemates complement each other, with Owendale a closer and Warrior’s Charge having won his last two starts on the lead.
“They’re both doing well,” Cox said by phone from Churchill Downs, where Owendale and Warrior’s Charge both had a schooling session at the starting gate as part of their Wednesday training session before flying from Louisville to Baltimore.
“They stood in the gate this morning, and we’re pleased with how they’re training. We have confidence with both of them. Given just the way they’re training and have been working, we expect big efforts out of them,” he said.
Owendale and Warrior’s Charge, along with fellow Preakness contenders Improbable and Laughing Fox, arrived at Pimlico Wednesday afternoon after arriving at Baltimore Washington International Airport on a flight that originated in Louisville, Ky.
Both horses will race an eighth-mile farther than they have before in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, and Cox has his first starters in a Triple Crown race.
“It’s a question mark with both of them, actually,” he said. “Owendale is out of a Bernardini mare, and Bernardini obviously won the Preakness. With his running style, he can possibly get it from the looks of his last race, how he finished extremely well going a mile and a sixteenth and galloped out well.
“It’s probably a little bit more of a question mark with Warrior’s Charge,” Cox added. “He’s a speed horse. A lot is going to be determined by what he can do up front, how fast the pace will be, where he’ll be in relation to the pace. We’ll just have to see how the race unfolds. Same thing with Owendale. Yeah, I think he can get a mile and three-sixteenths if they go really quick up front and he gets a nice trip, can circle horses and come running. It’s all about pace. Pace makes the race is the bottom line.”
SIGNALMAN -- Signalman got his first look at Pimlico Race Course early Wednesday morning while galloping 1 1/4 mile under trainer Kenny McPeek’s assistant and exercise rider Danny Ramsey.
“He’s beautiful; he loved it,’’ said Ramsey. “We’re very optimistic coming into the weekend. The horse is doing great.”
Signalman, who did not earn enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, arrived at Pimlico on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes.
McPeek was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico later Wednesday. Ramsey indicated plans called for morning gallops in the days before the race for Signalman, who finished third in the Blue Grass and comes into the 1 3/16-mile Preakness fresh.
“I’ve been with him since he was a 2-year-old,” said Ramsey. “When I first got on him, he reminded me of Sky Mesa. At that time, I didn’t even know Sky Mesa was his grandfather, and that was one of the best horses I’ve ever been on.”
Signalman will be McPeek’s fifth Preakness starter, his best finish coming in 2017 when Senior Investment finished third.
A son of General Quarters, Signalman has been consistent throughout his career, with a pair of wins, including a Kentucky Jockey Club score, two seconds and two thirds from seven starts. The bay colt will be ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr.
“We’ve done everything there is to do to get the horse ready,” said Ramsey. “All the rider has to do now is win the race.“
WAR OF WILL -- On a crisp, sunny Wednesday morning , exercise rider Kim Carroll guided War of Will to the track at Pimlico with trainer Mark Casse walking close behind.
After a jog followed by a leisurely gallop around the track, War of Will was led back to the Preakness Stakes Barn, cooled down, posed for photos, and received a sponge bath from Casse’s crew.
“Right now, it’s just about being happy. We’re not going for any type of fitness,” said Casse, seeking his first win in a Triple Crown race. “We’re just letting him get over the track and regain some of the energy he used in the Derby. Then, of course, we vanned here. We’re just going for leisurely gallops. He looked nice today. He relaxed a little better today than he did in Kentucky, even galloping.”
War of Will finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and was placed seventh after Maximum Security finished first but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Country House finished second but was declared the winner.
War of Will won the LeComte and Risen Star but ran ninth in the Louisiana Derby. In the Kentucky Derby, War of Will checked heading into the final turn in tight quarters with Maximum Security, quickly regained his stride but faded in the stretch.
For the Preakness, Casse is hoping jockey Tyler Gaffalione can be “somewhere farther off the rail so he can relax. We want him close, but some of his best races have been outside. So we’d like to see him outside, and it looks like there’s fair amount of speed out there.
All is good, said Casse, adding that “unless something changes in the next few days, I think we’re going to be extremely tough.”
WIN WIN WIN -- Win Win Win will have one more routine gallop at Fair Hill Training Center Thursday morning before embarking on the one-hour, 20-minute van ride to Pimlico.
“He is a good shipper,” trainer Michael Trombetta said of Live Oak Plantation’s homebred son of Hat Trick, who has logged a considerable amount of road miles traveling from his home base to Florida and Kentucky and back to Maryland, compiling a 3-2-1 record from seven starts and a bankroll of $367,300. “He’s got a good mind. He acts like the colt he is, but he’s good to be around. He does everything you tell him to.”
The leggy dark bay colt kicked off this 3-year-old campaign by setting a seven-furlong Tampa Bay Downs track record (1:20.89) winning the Pasco and then proved he could handle two turns in finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby and second in the Blue Grass at Keeneland. He was not a factor in the Kentucky Derby.
“He’s really had a good week since the Derby,” said Trombetta. “We’re hoping for some racing luck.”