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Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable's Bourbon War, fourth in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park in his most recent start, has joined the probable list for the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course May 18, 2019.
"He's doing excellent. Right now, he's probable for the Preakness," trainer Mark Hennig said Monday morning from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. "We had a conference call yesterday and speaking with the owners we felt like after watching the events of the weekend, the Florida horses gave a good account of themselves and we felt we were competitive with them. So, why not take a shot in the Preakness rather than the more conservative route we were thinking in the Peter Pan?"
Bourbon War closed from far back to finish fourth behind Maximum Security, Bodexpress and Code of Honor in the Florida Derby. Maximum Security finished first by 1 ¾ lengths in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs before being disqualified; Bodexpress finished off-the-board in the Derby after stalking the pace into the far turn while racing extremely wide; Code of Honor briefly put his head in front at the top of the stretch in the Run for the Roses before finishing third and being placed second due to the disqualification.
After breaking his maiden and finishing fourth in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct last year, Bourbon War made an impressive 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park Jan. 18 while defeating Cutting Humor (10th in Kentucky Derby) in an optional claiming allowance. The son of Tapit came back to finish second behind Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream before checking in fourth in the Florida Derby.
"He and Code of Honor have been pretty close together in their races. Maximum Security certainly showed up and held up that form from Florida, so I think it seems like a smart move to try the Preakness," Hennig said.
Bourbon War, who hadn't earned sufficient qualifying points to be included in the Derby field, has had three half-mile workouts, one at Gulfstream and two at Belmont, since the March 30 Florida Derby.
"He's doing great. He seems to have really settled in up here. I like the fact that it'll be seven weeks between races, I think that's what it comes down to, instead of four weeks like we had between the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby." Hennig said.
"As I've said all along, he's a horse that's still maturing and he's not a great big horse in stature, so that little extra time is going to benefit us, I believe," he added.
Bourbon War is scheduled to breeze at Belmont later this week in preparation of a probable start in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
"He'll probably get a breeze in Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather here. There's some rain in the forecast, but it looks like Thursday morning might be our best window to get a breeze in on a good racetrack," Hennig said. "He'll ship in the week of the race. There's no reason to get there too early. I'd say, Wednesday at the earliest."
Hennig has saddled a pair of Preakness starters - Eddington (3rd, 2004) and Personal Hope (4th, 1993).
"They both ran well. They were both different types, but Eddington actually came back and won the Pimlico Special the next year," Hennig said. "It's always fun to come to Baltimore. They take good care of us there and it's a fun city."
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