Haskin Preakness Report: Brown's in Town

Haskin Preakness Report: Brown's in Town
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Big Brown's first trip to the track attracted a horde of followers.
With the arrival of Big Brown and others from Kentucky and California, all the horses are at Pimlico, with the exception of Saturday arrivals Behindatthebar and Icabad Crane. This will be just an abbreviated report to set things up for Friday’s column, in which we’ll try to find several value plays to use in the exotics.

As at Churchill Downs, Big Brown’s first trip to the track attracted a horde of followers, with photographers and cameramen scampering about chasing down the colt as he made his way along the horse path to the gap. As usual, he was unperturbed by it all and went about his business, galloping a little over once around the Pimlico oval. Also like at Churchill Downs, he galloped as if he’d been there his whole life, gliding over the ground with his ears up.

Standing along the rail were trainer Rick Dutrow and IEAH’s Mike Iavarone, who were happy with what they saw. Yes, it’s a cliché to say Big Brown is a machine, but you just wind him up every morning and he goes out there and does exactly what you want to see. Dutrow says he hasn’t missed an oat since the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

What also is important is that Big Brown has held his flesh extremely well since the Derby. Dutrow said Big Brown will gallop Friday, but if the track is off he’ll just jog him again, as he did on many mornings at Churchill Downs. He also is planning on blowing him out a quarter of a mile on Saturday morning if the track is OK.

Another galloper who made an excellent impression this morning was Racecar Rhapsody, an attractive son of Tale of the Cat   who had a smooth, strong gallop. With only two starts under him this year, Racecar Rhapsody is a longshot to pay close attention to and he could be a solid proposition in the exotics.

Nick Zito took it easy with Stevil, who just hacked around there in something between a light gallop and a jog. Zito said he didn’t have the colt do much because of the fast half-mile breeze in :47 4/5 he had at Churchill Downs two days ago. He’ll have a stonger gallop Friday.

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Kentucky Bear, who had another strong gallop this morning, schooled in the paddock and handled it well. Despite being paddock schooled he’ll still saddle on the grass course with the other Preakness starters. Trainer Reade Baker remains confident in his colt and has not been caught up in the Big Brown hype, feeling he has a fresh, talented horse, while Big Brown has to come back in two weeks after running monster speed figures in the Derby.

The other Kentucky Derby runner, Gayego, has also held his flesh well, despite making two cross-country trips since the race. The powerfully muscled son of Gilded Time wore blinkers this morning, jogging the wrong way along the outer rail.

Gayego,as he did in the Derby, drew the second from the outside post, this time post 12, meaning he’ll have to break well and get into the early fray to avoid getting hung wide, something you don’t want to do at Pimlico. Tres Borrachos is the likely early speed from the inside, and it will be interesting to see where Kent Desormeaux decides to place Big Brown, who could try for the lead himself or take back and let Gayego clear him, so he doesn’t get caught between Gayego and Tres Borrachos.

The only horse outside him will be Hey Byrn, who rates well, but doesn’t like to get too far back, so he could be in danger of losing ground on the first turn. The son of Put it Back has a great temperament, his coat looks terrific, and he was moving very well in his gallop this morning. If he can get lucky from a trip standpoint, he should make his presence felt. You always have to respect Calder shippers, and Eddie Plesa Jr., who has never been afraid of shipping out of town, is one of the most dangerous.

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