(Edited Press Release)
IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Big Brown had his presence announced on the Churchill Downs track shortly before 7 a.m. May 11 with a loud clap of thunder. Unfazed, Big Brown went about his morning activity, jogging one mile with Michelle Nevin up accompanied by a pony.
Heavy overnight rain had left the Churchill Downs racing surface “muddy,” and trainer Rick Dutrow, as he had done two days last week, opted to jog the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner rather than gallop him.
With his Kentucky Derby victory eight days ago, Big Brown put Nevin in some elite company in being the regular morning exercise rider of a classic winner.
“I first got on him when he came to Florida in November,” Nevin said. “Rick was telling me ‘you’re gonna love this horse,’ and the first time I took him to the track, he went out there like an old pro and nothing bothered him. After I galloped him, I thought ‘this is a classy horse.’”
TRES BORRACHOS - Less than two hours after Big Brown jogged under cloudy skies and on a muddy track, bright sunshine and a harrowed track that was drying out because of high winds greeted Tres Borrachos.
The third-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) galloped 1 1/2 miles under Andy Durnin and was outfitted in blinkers for the first time. Trainer Beau Greely, who owns Tres Borrachos in partnership with John Greely and Phil Houchens, explained the experiment.
“In his races, horses would come up to him and he’d back up a little and then come again,” Greely said. “I want to see what Andy thinks about them, but it looks like he was relaxed galloping today. He may have them on when he works Tuesday, and then we’ll make a decision (about whether the blinkers will stay on for the Preakness).”
RECAPTURETHEGLORY - Assistant trainer Lara Van Deren said fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Recapturetheglory was doing much better May 11, a day after running a 102-degree temperature.
“Yesterday was real tough,” Van Deren said. “He will probably leave tomorrow for Chicago and miss three or four days of training.”
Owned by trainer Louie Roussel III and Ronald Lamarque, Recapturetheglory was on track to leave Churchill Downs May 10 for Baltimore and a start in the Preakness before the fever knocked him out of the race.
BEHINDATTHEBAR/HARLEM ROCKER – The Todd Pletcher-trained colts turned in nearly identical five-furlong works May 11 over the Belmont Park training track. Harlem Rocker, the Canadian-bred winner of the Withers Stakes (gr. III), was a tad faster with a time of 1:00.10. It was the third-fastest of 32 works at the distance. Pletcher described the workout as “dynamite,” but said a decision on Harlem Rocker’s status for the Preakness would not be made until May 14.
Harlem Rocker, owned by Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach, is unbeaten in three career starts. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park Feb. 14, added an allowance victory March 30, and won the Withers at Aqueduct April 26.
Behindatthebar, the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.13, the fourth-fastest at the distance in preparation for his scheduled start in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico. In a five-race career, Behindatthebar, a son of Forest Wildcat, has a record of 3-1-0 and earnings of $277,100. His only off-the-board finish was a fifth in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Bay Meadows March 8. Since then, he has won an allowance race at Santa Anita and came from well off the pace at Keeneland to win the Lexington by one length.
GIANT MOON - Trainer Richard Schosberg said the stormy weather forecast for New York will determine what type of workout the colt will have this week.
“He’s doing great,” Schosberg said. “He had a good breeze last week and a good gallop today over the main track. We’ll train him according to the weather over the next few days. We’ll see. It looks like we’ve got a nice Nor’easter to throw a curve to us.”
Giant Moon galloped 1 3/8 miles May 11 at Belmont Park. Schosberg intends to put another breeze into the Giant's Causeway colt at Belmont. He said the heavy rain expected May 11 and May 12 will affect when and what he does with the colt.
“He’ll blow out if we’re real close, or we’ll let him stretch his legs for a half-mile, depending on what day it is.”
HEY BYRN – Beatrice Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Peter Shelton at Calder Race Course May 11. The Eddie Plesa-trained colt is scheduled to van from Miami May 12 and is due to arrive at Pimlico the following day. Hey Byrn most recently scored a 2 1/2-length triumph in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park April 12, but lacked the graded-stakes earnings to qualify for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
“It was a disappointment, but it wasn’t earth shattering,” Plesa said. “(Mrs. Oxenberg) understood that he might not get in. She said, “If he gets in, he gets in.’”
The son of Put It Back captured his first two races of the year before encountering considerable bumping at the start of the Florida Derby (gr. I) and finishing fourth behind subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.
“He made up some ground," said Plesa. "He put in a good run between the three-eighths and the three-sixteenths poles before flattening ou. (The bad start) kind of took its toll.”
C.C. Lopez, who scored aboard the Florida-bred colt in the Holy Bull, is slated to return to the saddle for the Preakness.
ICABAD CRANE – The Federico Tesio Stakes winner enjoyed a leisurely “hack” through the woods at Fair Hill Training Center May 11.
“He had an easy day,” said trainer Graham Motion, whose Preakness Stakes hopeful had worked five furlongs May 9.
Icabad Crane will continue to train at Fair Hill before vanning to Pimlico on the morning of the Preakness.
“We don’t want to take him out of his routine,” Motion said. “We’ve had a lot of experience shipping horses on Preakness Day. It’s just an hour trip.”
Earle Mack’s New York-bred colt has won three of his four lifetime starts, including a stretch-running half-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Tesio.
“The Preakness was something we thought about right after the Tesio," said Motion. "He has a good race over the track. He won the Tesio despite having some trouble, and the second-place finisher (Mint Lane) came back to finish second in the Peter Pan (Stakes, gr. II), which somewhat endorses the race.”
Jeremy Rose, who rode Afleet Alex to a Preakness victory in 2005, has the mount on Icabad Crane.
KENTUCKY BEAR – Assistant trainer Sherri Wickett and exercise rider/groom Cassie Garcia had the stakes barn to themselves May 11 with the third-place finisher from the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), who lacked sufficient earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field.
“He’s been here since Wednesday and he’s doing really good,’’ Wickett said. “We worked yesterday (five furlongs in 1:01) with (jockey) Jamie (Theriot). He walked this morning. He’ll jog tomorrow and gallop the rest of the week.’’
Kentucky Bear, a son of Mr. Greeley, is even more lightly raced than probable Preakness favorite Big Brown. The Blue Grass was only his third career start. Unraced at two, Kentucky Bear won his debut at Gulfstream Park going a mile, and then was a wide seventh in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) before finishing third behind Monba on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface.
This will be the first Preakness mount for Theriot, who finished third in the recent Keeneland rider standings. “I rode him last year at Keeneland,’’ said trainer Reade Baker, who was back in Canada running horses at Woodbine. “He won a stake for me; that’s why I put him on the horse. I’m very happy where I am.’’
Kentucky Bear was schooled in the paddock before the first race May 11.
MACHO AGAIN – Trainer Dallas Stewart reported that Macho Again walked the shedrow May 11 after breezing an easy half-mile (:50.80) at Churchill Downs the previous day. The Derby Trial scheduled to accompany Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown on a flight from Louisville to BWI Airport May 14.
“It’s kind of messed up," said Stewart. "The plane’s scheduled to land at 5:30, right in the middle of rush hour."
Julien Leparoux has the return mount on the gray son of Macho Uno .
RACECAR RHAPSODY – The Tale of the Cat colt, who is trained by Ken McPeek, walked at Churchill Downs May 11, the day after breezing five furlongs in 1:01.
“He worked well and he ate up quick last night, so we’re encouraged. He’s in good shape.” McPeek said. “We realize we’re kind of up against it with a horse like Big Brown, if he runs his race, but we feel like we’ll be competitive otherwise.”
Racecar Rhapsody will be ridden by Robby Albarado, winner of the Preakness last year aboard Curlin. The Kentucky-bred colt finished fourth in the Lexington Stakes (gr. II), beaten two lengths, in his last start April 19. The colt is one of the 11 challengers ready to line up against Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.
“With us, it was more timing and distance,” McPeek said. “It really didn’t have anything to do with what everybody else is doing. The horse is doing well. It’s kind of an opportunity to see how good he is at a mile and three-sixteenths. He’s been competitive everywhere we’ve run him. He hasn’t had the cleanest of trips historically, but maybe he’s due.”
McPeek said Racecar Rhapsody will ship from Kentucky to Baltimore May 14.
RILEY TUCKER – Trainer Bill Mott said the son of Harlan’s Holiday would remain in New York until Wednesday or Thursday in hopes of getting a final work in during the next 48 hours.
“He’ll work at Belmont as soon as we get a good race track,’’ said Mott of Zayat Stable’s 3-year-old, who shows only one victory from seven starts, that coming in his debut last July. “It’s calling for rain Monday, so we’re hoping to get on the track Tuesday.’’
Riley Tucker figures to be one of the longer shots on the board in the Preakness field, but he has been in the money in his last three starts. He was a close third in the Lexington April 19 at Keeneland in his most recent outing.
STEVIL – The son of Maria's Mon galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs May 11 under exercise rider Dylan Armstrong in preparation for a final scheduled blowout the following day.
“He’ll work if the weather permits,’’ said Zito from Louisville, confirming a plan to ship to Pimlico May 13. “Right now, it’s raining and the conditions aren’t too good.’’
John Velazquez will be aboard the Robert LaPenta-owned colt, who was fourth in the Blue Grass (gr. I) in his most recent outing. Velazquez will be the fifth different rider for Stevil, who hasn’t visited the winner’s circle in five starts since breaking his maiden in his first race last October at Belmont Park.
YANKEE BRAVO – Trainer Paddy Gallagher reported that Yankee Bravo jogged twice around the track at Hollywood Park May 11.
The son of Yankee Gentleman , who was excluded from the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field due to a lack of graded-stakes earnings, will be making only his second start on a conventional dirt track in the Preakness. After winning his first two starts on turf and capturing the California Derby over Golden Gate Field’s synthetic surface, Yankee Bravo closed to finish third behind Pyro in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) over Fair Grounds’ dirt track.
“I thought he ran a nice race in Louisiana in his first time on dirt,” said Gallagher, whose colt will be ridden by Alex Solis. “Alex said he was climbing a little at first, but that he leveled off and handled it fine.”
Yankee Bravo, who is scheduled to fly from Southern California to Baltimore May 14, finished fourth behind Colonel John in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in his most recent start.