Upbeat reports continue to filter into Pimlico from training centers where Preakness (gr. I) hopefuls ready for next Saturday's middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown. Horses begin to arrive at Old Hilltop on Tuesday afternoon.
From the bucolic headquarters of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro
, trainer Michael Matz reported, "He jogged a mile and galloped a mile and a quarter over the wood chips surface at Fair Hill. He's doing terrific."
Barbaro shipped to his home, the training center in Elkton, Md., after his impressive Derby triumph. He may put in a stretch gallop at Fair Hill next week before moving to Pimlico for the race. Date and time of arrival have not been set. Matz could ship in the morning of the race or a couple days earlier to gallop over the track.
The son of Dynaformer
won the 2005 Laurel Futurity last November and became the ninth horse to win both Maryland's top 2-year-old stakes race and also capture the first leg of the Triple Crown. The other winners are Morvich, Count Fleet, Jet Pilot, Citation, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid.
At Laurel Park, Sweetnorthernsaint
, the morning line favorite for last week's Run for the Roses, jogged one mile and galloped one more with exercise rider Ernesto Ferdinand. Trainer Michael Trombetta plans on shipping his star to Pimlico the morning of the million dollar event. The conditioner will be available at the stakes barn on Monday morning.
"Preparing for the Preakness is much easier than the Derby," said Trombetta, who graduated from Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County. "If my horse was doing well I always anticipated on running him here as long as he shows to me that he belongs at this level. I was very confident with his middle move down the backside that he does belong with this type of horse."
At Churchill Downs, Brother Derek
tack-walked for the second consecutive day. The morning line favorite for the Derby will arrive at Pimlico next Tuesday afternoon. Trainer Dan Hendricks is planning on arriving the next morning.
"This could be a truly different run race," Hendricks said. "If he's laying in a similar position as Barbaro, then all I can hope is that I can out-dogfight him."Hemingway's Key
will also be arriving from Louisville Tuesday. Trainer Nick Zito has saddled a starter in Maryland's signature race 12 times in the last 15 years. The son of Notebook would be his 17th Preakness starter. Only D. Wayne Lukas (31), Max Hirsch (19) and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons (18) have more.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was equally animated when he spoke about Like Now
from his shedrow at Belmont Park. The Florida-bred Like Now won the Gotham (gr. III) and placed in the Lexington a(gr. II) t Keeneland in his previous two starts.
"Like Now is doing very well after his workout," McLaughlin said. "He came out of the work in great shape. He just hand-walked today. At this time we're thinking of shipping down the day before, but we haven't confirmed anything as of this moment."
Also in New York, trainer Tom Albertrani continued to be conservative in his handling of the Withers (gr. III) winner Bernardini
. He said, "We tack-walked him today because of the weather. That's all that he did today. He's doing fine."
Bernardini, another runner with brilliant middle-distance speed, has started only three times. In the Withers, jockey Javier Castellano dropped his whip, but Bernardini won geared down by 3 3/4 lengths.
The Preakness field could grow if Bob Baffert decides to run Bob and John
and/or Point Determined
. A decision is expected by Monday. If either run, they will be on the Tuesday flight from Kentucky.