Local Preakness Stakes (gr. I) hopeful Norman Asbjornson worked “the best time he has ever had at a mile” May 5 at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Chris Grove said.
Grove, 41, is a Maryland native who stables at the Bowie Training Center. Norman Asbjornson is pointing to the May 21 Preakness for 3-year-olds after two good efforts in graded stakes in New York.
Norman Asbjornson, with Julian Pimentel riding, worked in company with stablemate Eddie C. He broke off behind the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) probable but caught his older rival before the four-furlong mark and stopped the clock in a solid 1:40. Fractions were :13, :24.80, :37, :49, 1:01.40, 1:13.40, and 1:26.80, according to clocker Mark Euga.
“It appears that he got hold of the track and got the stamina boosting work that we needed,” Grove told Pimlico officials after the work. “I will probably come back (May 13 or May 14) to put a five-eighths or three-quarters work into him.”
Norman Asbjornson, a Pennsylvania-bred by Real Quiet out of the Citidancer mare Merryland Missy, is owned by Thomas McClay, Harry Nye III, and Horseshoe Valley Equine. He finished fourth in the April 9 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct after a troubled trip, and in his previous race finished second in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III), also at Aqueduct.
“He has really come around,” said Grove, son of former rider and current Maryland steward Phil Grove. “I liked him the minute he came into the barn, but the owners told me after the second race that I could drop him into a maiden-claimer. I thought when we stretched him out we would see a different horse, and that is what happened. We have seen a different horse.”