With the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) 11 days away, the field set to test Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Big Brown continues to change as the connections of some of the top 3-year-olds weigh a start in the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.
As of the afternoon of May 6, there were seven confirmed starters for Maryland’s signature event: Big Brown, Behindatthebar, Giant Moon, Kentucky Bear, Stevil, Tres Borrachos, and Yankee Bravo, along with four other potential runners.
Trainer Rick Dutrow, still fighting a heavy cough, was back at the track the morning of May 6 at Churchill Downs supervising his 12-horse string in Louisville.
“I’m doing all right; it’s just all that dirt that Big Brown kicked up in my lungs,” Dutrow said with a laugh.
Big Brown, owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., is scheduled to return to the track the morning of May 7 to jog and resume galloping May 8.
“That’s the plan right now,” Dutrow said. “Looks like he came out of the race real good.”
Kent Desormeaux, who won five riding titles at Pimlico from 1987 to 1989, has the mount for the Preakness. The Hall of Fame jockey has had 10 career Preakness mounts, including a victory aboard Real Quiet in 1998.
Big Brown will be arriving in Baltimore a week from May 7 on a flight that is scheduled to land at 5:45 p.m. The son of Boundary will be stabled in Stall 40 of the Pimlico stakes barn.
Big Brown will be joined on that flight by Tres Borrachos, the third-place finisher in the April 12 Arkansas Derby (gr. II). The gelding galloped 1 5/8 miles at Churchill Downs May 6 with Andy Durnin aboard. Trainer Beau Greely, who owns the Ecton Park colt in partnership with John Greely IV and Phil Houchens, is scheduled to be in Louisville later May 6. Tres Borrachos is scheduled to work Wednesday morning.
Kentucky Bear will be the first Preakness hopeful to arrive at Pimlico May 7. Kentucky Bear, who has had two consecutive bullet works at Keeneland the last two weeks, is scheduled to drill at Pimlico May 10 at around 8:30 a.m. Trainer Reade Baker said he is still undecided about a jockey, but is leaning toward Jamie Theriot, who rode the colt to a third-place effort in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher could start a pair of Preakness runners for the second consecutive year. The Eclipse Award-winning conditioner will be represented by Behindatthebar, who won the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland April 19. The son of Forest Wildcat had a bullet five-furlong drill at Keeneland May 3 before shipping to Pletcher’s Belmont Park barn. David Flores, who has been aboard the colt in four of his five previous starts, has the riding assignment.
“He came out of the work in good shape,” Pletcher said. “We decided to wait for the Preakness because he had run in California 16 days before the Lexington. We just felt like three races in a 30-day period was squeezing his races a little too closely together.”
Pletcher said a decision on Harlem Rocker, who captured the April 26 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, will be made after the horse breezes the weekend of May 10.
Stevil walked the shedrow at trainer Nick Zito’s barn at Churchill Downs, a day after working a half-mile in :48.60. Heather Stark, assistant to Zito, reported the Maria’s Mon colt came out of the work in good order. Zito plans to work Stevil at Churchill Downs again next week before shipping to Pimlico May 13.
Giant Moon will be arriving at Pimlico May 15. Trainer Richard Schosberg said Ramon Dominguez, who won a pair of riding titles at Pimlico in 2001, has the call on the son of Giant's Causeway . The colt won the first four races of his career, including two stakes races with Dominguez aboard. Giant Moon, who finished fourth in the April 5 Wood Memorial (gr. I), will work five furlongs at Belmont Park May 7.
“The horse has matured enough and has enough natural and tactical speed that he would be comfortable making the lead or racing off the pace if he had to,” Schosberg said. “He showed speed in the Wood and had no problems while he was covered up in fifth and he was able to make a run up and finish strong.”
Meanwhile in Southern California, trainer Patrick Gallagher said that California Derby winner Yankee Bravo would drill for the Preakness either May 7 or 8. Since the victory, the son of Yankee Gentleman finished third behind Pyro in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and fourth behind Colonel John in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Alex Solis, who won Preakness in 1986 aboard Snow Chief, has the riding assignment.
“He’s doing fine. He galloped today,” Gallagher said. “He raced in Europe as a 2-year-old and one of the owners, Richard Duggan, showed me a video of him. I liked what I saw and that is how we came to own him.”
Yankee Bravo will arrive at Pimlico May 14.
El Gato Malo was expected to be on that flight, but Terry Finley, founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds, announced that the son of El Corredor will not run in the Preakness, but instead will opt for the May 10 Lone Star Derby (Grade III).
Finley did say that Macho Again is now possible for the Preakness, depending on the field size. The other option for the son of Macho Uno is the Ohio Derby (gr. II) at Thistledown May 31.
“We’ll see how he trains, but he seems to have come out of the Derby Trial in fine fashion,” added Finley. “It is not out of the question. We’ll keep track of the Preakness field.”
A potential new shooter for the Preakness is Riley Tucker, who finished third to Behindatthebar in the Lexington. The Bill Mott trainee has finished in the money six times from seven starts. Edgar Prado, who was scheduled to ride El Gato Malo, would have the mount on Riley Tucker.
Recapturetheglory, who finished fifth in the Derby, and appears to be the only runner from the Run For the Roses under consideration for the Preakness.
Lara Van Deren, assistant trainer and exercise rider for Recapturetheglory, said the Cherokee Run colt is doing well and would return to the track in the morning to jog. Plans call for Recapturetheglory to remain at Churchill Downs until a decision is made on the colt’s next start.
The post position draw for the Preakness is May 14 at 5 p.m. at the ESPN Zone in downtown Baltimore. The event will be televised live on ESPN. The Preakness is limited to 14 starters. Thirteen of the last 16 years have produced double-digit starters.
The 133rd running of the Preakness on May 17 will be televised by NBC. Post time is 6:15 p.m.