Govenor Charlie Gets First Gallop at Pimlico

Mike Pegram's homebred settles in May 16 after arrival from Churchill a day earlier.

Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner Govenor Charlie had a routine first morning at Pimlico Race Course May 16, going to the track shortly after 6 o'clock for some exercise.

Mike Pegram's homebred Midnight Lute  colt arrived at the Baltimore track for the May 18 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) from Churchill Downs the day before.

"He handled the track fine. He galloped a mile, to let him get over the track," said Jimmy Barnes, trainer Bob Baffert's longtime assistant. "He went over it fine and seemed to like it."

Baffert, who was scheduled to travel from California to Baltimore later May 16, waited until he was sure the colt was fully recovered from a minor hoof injury before committing to the Preakness. Govenor Charlie was examined at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., in mid-April after the injury was discovered. He was able to return to training, but Baffert decided that he was not ready for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 4.

"It was minor, but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing else involved," Baffert said. "That's why I sent him to the clinic and they did the scan on him. I wanted to make sure that we weren't missing something."

Govenor Charlie has had three timed works at Churchill since the visit to Rood & Riddle, including a snappy six-furlong breeze in 1:10 4/5 May 13.

"We're running because after his last work he's back to 100 percent," Baffert said. "I just lost that little time with him, five days of training and an important work. I had to get him right and now he's 100%. The way he worked the other day, it looked like he's doing well. He's back to his old self."

By Tuesday morning, Baffert was willing to say that the colt would go on to the Preakness.

"The main thing is that he came out of the work really well," Baffert said. "It looks like he's sitting on a big race. He had to be 100% and he had to be training really well. He handled the work really well and didn't get tired. We'll find out if he's good enough."

Govenor Charlie is light on seasoning with just three starts, two of them wins, for earnings of $444,800. His five-length triumph as the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby March 24 was accomplished in a track-record time of 1:47.54 at the New Mexico oval.