With Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey aboard, Preakness Stakes favorite Medaglia d'Oro sizzled three furlongs in :35 at New York's Belmont Park as he prepared for Saturday's second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland.
Bailey began the work on Medaglia d'Oro at the quarter pole and finished up one furlong past the finish line. A troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby under jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., Medaglia d'Oro is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Preakness. He is scheduled to ship to Baltimore Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, at Pimlico, for the first time this week nearly all of the starters for Saturday's race took to the Pimlico racing surface on Thursday morning. At the center of attention was Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, who galloped effortlessly over the quick surface under exercise rider Mick Jenner.
Trainer Bob Baffert, concerned that a large crowd of fans that had gathered near the finish line might excite the colt, advised Jenner to pull the horse up near the eighth pole. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes was there aboard his pony to escort the son of Our Emblem off the track and back to the stakes barn.
"He looked like a Mercedes out there, didn't he?" Baffert asked. "War Emblem is a good horse and he knows that. He had never seen all this attention before, but he is getting used to all the flash bulbs and onlookers. He understands that something special is going on and that he is a big part of that. He knows where the cameras are, and he even likes to strike a pose from time to time."
First out Thursday morning was the D Wayne Lukas trained duo of Proud Citizen and Table Limit, both of whom galloped around 5:30 a.m. Lukas was happy with the way both colts went and was particularly high on Table Limit, who will be facing stakes competition or the first time. "I'm telling you," Lukas said. "Watch. I am not just chasing an empty wagon here."
Lukas said he wished he could have reversed the post positions for his two starters. He chose post nine for Table Limit, but by the time he chose a position for Proud Citizen the most appealing number remaining was 11. "It seems to me that when you enter more than one horse, you should be able to draw by trainer rather than by horse. I would have preferred the more inside position for Proud Citizen. But we'll do fine."
In contrast to the Lukas duo, Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Booklet was the last Preakness horse to train Thursday, going out around 9 a.m. and jogging once around the track.
"Well, that's my Preakness training right there," said trainer John Ward. "Jog him a mile-and-a-half."
On the track at the same time as War Emblem was Harlan's Holiday, the beaten Kentucky Derby favorite who galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Helen Pitts. When she brought the Harlan colt back toward the path leading to the stable area, Pitts called out to McPeek, "Unbelievable! This surface is great. He was just bouncing on it out there."
McPeek said Harlan's Holiday is standing up well to the rigors of the Triple Crown. "This is the best he's ever looked," said McPeek, adding that Harlan's Holiday is only 10 pounds lighter than he was at his high point in Florida this winter. "And that's nothing."
Other gallopers at Pimlico Thursday were the Nick Zito-trained pair of Straight Gin and Crimson Hero, as well as Asmussen-trained Easyfromthgitgo, Jeff Bonde-trained Menacing Dennis, Graham Motion-trained Equality, and U S S Tinosa.
Nancy Alberts, owner and trainer of Magic Weisner, named Richard Migliore to ride the Maryland-bred gelding, replacing regular rider Phil Teator.