Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has put together a formidable team of jockeys to ride his three starters in the 138th Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 18.
Lukas said Gary Stevens will remain aboard Oxbow , who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I); Mike Smith will ride Will Take Charge, who finished a troubled eighth in the Derby, getting stopped cold in the upper stretch after moving stride for stride with the victorious Orb; and Julien Leparoux will ride Titletown Five, who is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III).
"Gary is learning more about Oxbow every day, and he is a difficult horse to ride, because he's so aggressive and so responsive," Lukas said. "And I thought we'd take a chance with a Hall of Famer in Mike Smith."
Leparoux's main strength is getting a horse to relax, and Titletown Five has been cooked on the pace in his last three starts after breaking his maiden by nine lengths last October.
Lukas' big disappointment in the Derby was seeing Will Take Charge make a huge move on the far turn under Jon Court while matching strides with the eventual winner, only to check sharply when he got stopped by a tiring Verrazano .
"He was going to be 1-2, and he might have won it," Lukas said. "I was sick over it. We had a chance to pull it off with the seven-week layoff, and I think I had it right. That horse is 17 hands and you can't just stop and start with a horse that big.
"With Oxbow, Gary saw the rail open up and he moved a little early on him, but that horse ran huge. I thought both of them did. But we'll live with it and go on to the Preakness. The most important thing for a horse trainer is to have a bad memory. Both horses pulled up excellent and I'm looking forward to the Preakness."
Lukas said his horses will van from Louisville to Baltimore. Md., on Tuesday, May 14, leaving at about 4 a.m. (EDT) and arriving about 5 or 6 p.m.