American Pharoah, Firing Line, and Dortmund
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American Pharoah, Firing Line, and Dortmund
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Joseph Rey Au

Preakness Could Be Rematch for Derby Top 3

Plans call for American Pharoah, Firing Line, Dortmund to return in two weeks.

Trainer Bob Baffert said May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner American Pharoah  and third-place finisher Dortmund  would both run back in the May 16 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.

With trainer Simon Callaghan also committing Derby second-place finisher Firing Line  to the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, it would be another showdown among the Derby top three.

"As of right now, I don't see why not," Baffert told a media horde at Churchill Downs after showing off his Derby winner. He said Zayat Stables, which owns American Pharoah, and Dortmund's owner, Kaleem Shah, deserve the opportunity. "We'll see how they train next week."

The Derby represented the first career defeat for Dortmund, who was making his seventh career start.

Trainer Simon Callaghan said Arnold Zetcher's Firing Line, who got a head in front of front-running Dortmund in the stretch before eventually finishing a length behind American Pharoah, could find the shorter distance of the Preakness better-suited to his running style.

"There was a point in the stretch when I thought we could win," Callaghan said. "I'm really proud of the way he ran. I couldn't ask for any more. He came out of the race great. Our team had him spot on to run. We got a very good ride from Gary (Stevens), and in the end, there were no excuses. We got beat by a very good horse.

"You'd have to think, if all is well, that he's earned that right (to run in the Preakness)," Callaghan said. "We were glad we finally got to best Dortmund, after he'd beaten us twice (in photo finishes), and we believe we can be right there with American Pharoah. We'll walk him here for the next three or four days and monitor him. We'll then train him with the Preakness in mind. Maybe we'll breeze him, or maybe we'll just gallop him. We'll let the horse tell us. If we go, we'll probably ship up there at some point next week."
The horse will stay on with assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria and exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

Trainer Mark Casse said he would evaluate the Preakness status of Danzig Moon, who finished a troubled fifth, but also said his main target for the colt is the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine July 5.

"We'll look at the Preakness," Casse said. "I was happy with how he ran in the Derby. He got knocked around. You have to give him credit for how well he ran."
Danzig Moon was steadied after exchanging bumps with Bolo going into the first turn, recovered and made a five-wide move rounding the second turn.
"He broke sharper than we thought he would," said Mark's son, assistant trainer Norman Casse. "He got caught in the rush to the first turn. He just happened to be caught in the middle of it. A lot of horses would have spit the bit there, but once he got clear, he got comfortable."

Godolphin Racing's Frosted  exited his late-closing fourth-place finish in good order, but is unlikely to run in the Preakness, reported trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

"He ran the best race of his life I think," the trainer said. "He ran a winning race. Congratulations to the winner and their connections. It was 1-2-3 for California. We were the only ones closing ground."
McLaughlin said Frosted is scheduled to ship back to New York May 4.

Todd Pletcher, who had returned to New York, said he has not determined plans for his three Derby startersMateriality (sixth), Itsaknockout (10th), and Carpe Diem  (11th).

Two new shooters on the list of possible runners are Lexington Stakes (gr. III) winner Divining Rod  and Federico Tesio winner Bodhisattva.

Trainer Arnaud Delacour said the Preakness would be next after Divining Rod took the Lexington at Keeneland April 11. Divining Rod, bred and owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson's Lael Stables, is stakes tested. He was second in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) before finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II).

Bodhisattva, a son of Student Council trained by owner Jose Corrales, was second in the Private Terms at Laurel Park and won the Federico Tesio at Pimlico April 18.

The Churchill Downs communications department notes team contributed to this story.

Hear Bob Baffert's post Kentucky Derby thoughts May 3.


Trainer Simon Callaghan comments on plans for Firing Line May 3.