American Pharoah, Dortmund Looking Good in Morning Gallops Firing Line Completes Preakness Preparation at Churchill
BALTIMORE â€“ Zayat Stablesâ€™ Kentucky Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah and Kaleem Shahâ€™s third-place Derby finisher Dortmund galloped 1 Â½ miles on a mild Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
â€œThose two looked good,â€ trainer Bob Baffert said. â€œAmerican Pharoah, he is something to see out there. He just floats over the track. Dortmund looked like a happy horse out there today.â€
Going on the track after the harrow break, the two backtracked to the front side of the track. American Pharoah, with Jorge Alvarez up, began his exercise with Dortmund and Dana Barnes following less than a minute later.
Baffert, who has won the Preakness five times, is three-for-three with his Derby winners coming back in two weeks to prevail at Pimlico. Silver Charm was the first in 1997, followed by Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002.
â€œThey were totally different horses,â€ Baffert said. â€œThe main concern is that they look healthy and are doing good. That is all you can hope for going into a race.â€
Baffertâ€™s other Preakness winners, Point Given in 2001 and Lookin At Lucky in 2010, had finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Derby before going to Pimlico.
â€œI always won with the best horse,â€ Baffert said. â€œUsually those were the best horses of that crop.â€ All five of Baffertâ€™s Preakness winners came on a fast track and the 62-year-old conditioner noted that the long-range forecast for Saturday in Baltimore called for a chance of thunderstorms.
â€œIf it rains, we know American Pharoah loves the mud,â€ Baffert said alluding to the coltâ€™s 6 Â¼-length 2015 debut victory in the slop at Oaklawn Park in the Rebel (G2). â€œI donâ€™t know about Dortmund.â€
After the two colts train Wednesday morning, Baffert and his Preakness candidates are scheduled to fly to Baltimore.
Firing Line Completes Preakness Preparation at Churchill
Arnold Zetcherâ€™s Firing Line completed the Louisville leg of his preparation for Saturdayâ€™s Preakness by galloping 1 Â½ miles under exercise rider Humberto Gomez after the morning break for renovation.
â€œHe wonâ€™t train in the morning,â€ said Carlos Santamaria, assistant to trainer Simon Callaghan. â€œHe will load here at 10 and Simon will be waiting for us at Pimlico.â€
Firing Line had concluded his past two days of training with open gallops and Gomez said the colt was looking for more today.
â€œI wanted to give him an easy day today and he wants to do more,â€ Gomez said. â€œHeâ€™s got a great attitude and when he gets to the quarter-pole. He wants to go.â€
Santamaria is ready for the next step on the Triple Crown trail to commence with the flight to Baltimore tomorrow.
â€œEverything has gone perfect,â€ Santamaria said. â€œThe weather has cooled and he has done well. Knock wood, we keep it the same until we leave.â€
Meanwhile, at Churchill, Charles Fipkeâ€™s Tale of Verve returned to the track Tuesday morning, galloping 1 Â½ miles under exercise rider Kortez Walker.
â€œI was going to jog him today, but, instead, had him gallop an easy mile and a half,â€ trainer Dallas Stewart said of Tale of Verve, who had walked Monday following a five-eighths work of 1:00.40 on Sunday. â€œHeâ€™ll jog in the morning and load at the barn (for the flight to Baltimore) at 10.â€
With Tale of Verve going out early for his morning activity, Stewart has had time to do a little scouting of his other Preakness competition training at Churchill Downs.
â€œAmerican Pharoah looks really good. He is the horse to beat,â€ Stewart said. â€œThey all trained well before the Derby and Firing Line looks strong. Those two look the strongest and (trainer Mark) Casseâ€™s horse (Danzig Moon) always looks good training.â€
Materiality Removed from Preakness Consideration
Trainer Todd Pletcher informed Maryland Jockey Club officials Tuesday morning that Florida Derby (G1) winner Materiality will not run in Saturdayâ€™s Preakness. The seven-time Eclipse Award trainer will point his sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher toward the Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park on June 6.
â€œWe were considering it very seriously. Basically, it came down to we just felt two weeks was a little bit risky. We felt five weeks to the Belmont would be an advantage for him. Heâ€™s been at Belmont since two days after the Derby and has been training well. Heâ€™s by a Belmont-winning sire. If you come back in two weeks and you turn out to be wrong, not only could you not run well in the Preakness, it could compromise your chances in the Belmont as well.â€
Materiality, a son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, had captured his first three races, including the Florida Derby, at Gulfstream Park before getting away from the gate last in the Derby and closing well to finish sixth.
Pletcher reported that Carpe Diem, 10th in the Derby, is also likely to return in the Belmont Stakes; Competitive Edge, the undefeated winner of the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard, would run next in either the Woody Stephens (G2) or the Met Mile (G1) on Belmont Day; and Stanford, who was scratched from the Derby, is likely to run in either the Woody Stephens or Easy Goer on Belmont Day.
Javier Castellano Picks Up Mount on Divining Rod
Trainer Arnoud Delacour received confirmation from agent Matt Muzikar Tuesday morning that champion jockey Javier Castellano will ride the Lael Stablesâ€™ Divining Rod in the Preakness Stakes.
Castellano, the two-time winner of the Eclipse Award, replaces Julien Leparoux, who is scheduled to ride Danzig Moon. Divining Rod will be Castellanoâ€™s fourth Preakness mount. He won with Bernardini in 2006.
Divining Rod galloped 1 Â¼ miles on the Tapeta track at Fair Hills Training Center Tuesday morning then schooled in the gate. Delacour said he decided to use the synthetic surface instead of the dirt track because it had rained overnight.
Divining Rod turned in a breakthrough performance winning the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on April 11. The homebred Tapit colt sat off the pace, accelerated when asked and moved on to a professional victory.
â€œIâ€™m very interested to see how he will handle the step up in competition and the stretch out,â€ Delacour said. â€œIâ€™m a lot more confident after the Lexington about his ability to do both.â€
Earlier in his career, the colt used his speed to be on the lead and had some trouble lasting. He committed to the lead from an inside post in the Tampa Bay Derby and finished third. However, he showed a different dimension and rated kindly in the Lexington.
â€œI 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,â€ Delacour said. â€œWhat I hope is going to make the difference now is that the horse can still break well and get a position â€“ that he doesnâ€™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.â€
Danzig Moon Full of Energy for Preakness
John Oxleyâ€™s Danzig Moon galloped a mile at Churchill Downs under exercise rider William Cano shortly after the track opened Tuesday morning. The son of Malibu Moon is scheduled to train again Wednesday before boarding a flight to Baltimore under the watchful eye of assistant trainer Norman Casse.
â€œNorman knows him better than anybody,â€ said father/trainer Mark Casse, who is slated to depart his home base in Canada for Baltimore on Thursday. â€œI stayed around to watch for a couple days after the Derby and he was good. Heâ€™s a pretty simple horse to train. Heâ€™s doing well and heâ€™s got a lot of energy.â€
The versatile colt is slated to make the fifth start of his sophomore campaign at his fifth different racetrack in the Preakness. He was fifth in the Kentucky Derby despite a traffic-marred trip at odds of 22-1, but his trainer seems relatively at ease with the quick turnaround.
â€œNot that the two weeks is ideal for anybody, but I donâ€™t think it will bother him much,â€ Mark Casse said. â€œHeâ€™s tough. You just never know until they run, but we think heâ€™s still on his game.â€
Danzig Moon had only two races as a juvenile and didnâ€™t break his maiden until his sophomore debut at Gulfstream Park going a mile on Jan. 7. He was fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and second to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass (G1)at Keeneland in his final Derby prep. â€œHeâ€™s a talented horse,â€ Casse said. â€œHe likes to do what he does and if youâ€™re not careful he can get a little too ambitious. The thing is, though, he will rate in a race.â€
Bodhisattva Seeking to Make a Name for Himself
Neither horse nor trainer is exactly a household name, but owner/trainer Jose Corrales is hoping that changes by the end of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
â€œMost people canâ€™t even pronounce his name, not even me,â€ said Corrales, whose coltâ€™s rambling moniker is derived from a Buddhist term meaning â€œenlightened one.â€ Corrales, a former jockey, is himself a relative unknown outside of Maryland making his first start in a Triple Crown race in either capacity.
â€œHeâ€™s doing great,â€ Corrales said Tuesday morning from Laurel Park after his chestnut colt jogged and galloped over the main track. â€œI donâ€™t know if heâ€™s going to run a big race or what, but so far everythingâ€™s going good. Iâ€™m so low-key â€“ I was as a jockey and now as a trainer. I never wanted to say my horse is better than your horse or my horse will win this because you never know whatâ€™s going to happen. So many things can happen in a race.â€
Corrales does, however, admit that he had Kentucky Derby aspirations with the son of Student Council as far back as last year. Despite having only a maiden win on his resume, Corrales took the colt to New York to run in the Grade 2 Remsen, in which he finished fifth. A win three weeks later in a Laurel allowance revived his hopes.
But after running three minor stakes to start his sophomore season and only managing one second-place finish in the Private Terms, Corrales realized the Derby dream was over and he began to focus on the Preakness. When he won the Federico Tesio at Pimlico on April 18, it was full speed ahead to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
â€œI just wanted to let my horse know one thing that I used to say as a jockey,â€ said Corrales, who won more than 1,000 races after coming to the U.S. from Panama in 1976. â€œWhen I was a jockey I used to say, â€˜Iâ€™m not better than nobody, but nobodyâ€™s better than me.â€