Pablo Del Monte at Pimlico on May 15.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Pablo Del Monte at Pimlico on May 15.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Ward: Pablo Del Monte 'Very Seasoned Horse'

The colt will attempt to win his first race on dirt in the May 17 Preakness.

Pablo Del Monte was highly regarded after two blowout victories at Keeneland last fall in two starts to kick off his career. He still is considered a good one, and in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) he'll get another chance to answer the distance question.

Owned by Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and trainer Wesley Ward, Pablo Del Monte drew post 9 in a field of 10 for the $1.5 million Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. He never has won beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, and his two wins have come on Polytrack.

Bred in Florida by Ward, Pablo Del Monte is by Giant's Causeway  out of the Bring the Heat mare One Hot Wish, a speedball who was trained by Ward. The 3-year-old colt had a chance to race in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after a scratch, but his connections opted to pass and wait for the Preakness.

He would have started from post 20 in the Derby.

"He's doing great," Ward said. "He's a very seasoned horse. He has been to a lot of different racetracks, so moving over to Pimlico isn't going to be a big change. He has seen a lot of places and he seems to be coming into his own. He's a big, strapping colt.

"I liked post 9 better than post 20. The good thing is we're outside of Social Inclusion , who I think is the main speed horse. A lot will depend on the break and how the other horse breaks, not only ours. You can see if we're going to be in front going into the first turn and if (Social Inclusion) will have to take back off of us, or vice versa."

Pablo Del Monte began his 2014 campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Derby at the one-turn-mile distance, and followed up with a third-place effort in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream at seven furlongs. In his most recent start, the 14-horse Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on the Keeneland Polytrack at 1 1/8 miles, Pablo Del Monte led for about one mile before fading a bit to finish third behind Dance With Fate and Medal Count .