Trainer H. Graham Motion is will be more than an interested spectator when he watches Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Motion will use what he sees Saturday to gauge whether he should enter Equality in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) two weeks later.
"We are not committed to running in the Preakness," Motion said Monday after the gray colt worked at Delaware Park. "We are going to play it out and see how things go in the Derby. We just want to see how we match up to what is probably going to head to the Preakness. Certainly, it is in our minds and we might take a shot at this point. If he is doing well, which he certainly seems to be off this work, then we could go."
Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner Equality worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on a wet-fast track.
"I thought his work went super," said Motion. "I would not think that the track is all that fast. Ramon (Dominguez) was very pleased with him. He said, 'he went off nice, relaxed and he finished up strong.' "
The son of Mt. Livermore would enter the Preakness off a troubled second-place finish in the inaugural Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Motion decided to skip the Derby following that race to give the Pin Oak Farm homebred time to develop.
The Derby is probably the toughest race to win in the world," Motion said. "I think it can also be one of the hardest races on a 3-year-old. We also felt that he might not be quite ready at this time. The Preakness will give him a little more time and it is not quite such a mad house. I think it is a sensible course for the horse to point toward the Preakness."
Equality has won three of seven career races for earnings of $213,390, including $120,000 in graded stakes money earned in the Tampa Bay Derby. He earned his maiden win in his third career start, then was given some time off before making his 3-year-old debut in January at Gulfstream. He finished fifth in an allowance won by Stephentown, then returned the next month to win an off-the-turf allowance race by 16 1/2 lengths.
"When he won the allowance race at Gulfstream Park, the next morning I was walking back to my barn and Allen Jerkens said to me, 'that horse that won yesterday is a Derby horse.' I thought if Allen Jerkens says that, that it kind of made me smile a little bit," said Motion.
Dominguez, who rode Equality in his debut race and again in his two stakes appearances, will likely retain the mount if Motion enters Equality in the Preakness. Equality is closely related to Canadian champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys. Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Peaks and Valleys and Equality share Mt. Livermore as a sire and Peaks and Valleys is out of Equality's second dam, Strike a Balance.