While most media and fans were following the every move of I'll Have Another and Bodemeister at the Preakness Stakes barn on the day before the second leg of the Triple Crown, over in stall 40 a colt that nearly nobody noticed was lazily sleeping away the beautiful morning at Pimlico Race Course.
Zetterholm, one of the longshots in Saturday’s Preakness, had just finished up his breakfast, and did not seem to have a care in the world as he caught up on his rest.
Stall 40, usually reserved for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, is instead occupied by the New York-bred who comes into the Preakness with as little fanfare as any starter in the 11-horse field. Even though he has won his last three starts, all have come against state-bred company at Aqueduct Racetrack, so even the connections of the son of Silver Train know it will take a massive effort for their horse to be a factor May 19.
Bringing even less attention the way of Zetterholm is the fact that his trainer, New York-based Rick Dutrow Jr., has yet to arrive at Pimlico, and probably will not make an appearance until just hours before the race. Instead, Dutrow has handed the duties for Zetterholm’s care over to his 20-year-old nephew, Blake Dutrow. Blake is the son of Chip Dutrow, who is also a New York-based trainer.
Blake Dutrow grew up in Maryland and attended nearby Old Mill High School, but is currently working as an assistant for his father in Saratoga. That is, until he got a call last week.
“Rick told me he wanted me to come down here with (Zetterholm). He is eligible for the race, so he wanted to take a shot with him,” said Blake, the grandson of the late Rick Dutrow Sr., a legendary Maryland trainer. “I was taking care of about 25 horses at Saratoga at the time, but I was like ‘Ok, just let me know when.’
“I was here in 2008 when Big Brown won, so I have some experience at Pimlico. It was a little bit different atmosphere then.”
A little different because Big Brown had just come off of his romping Kentucky Derby victory and was the talk of town when he rolled into Pimlico. Of course, Big Brown, trained by Rick Dutrow, would go on to win the Preakness that year by 5 1/4 lengths as the heavy favorite.
Blake came to Pimlico on May 12, the day Zetterholm arrived from Aqueduct. Zetterholm was the second Preakness horse to arrive at Pimlico, so it was even quieter during the early part of the week for the small team. The colt, owned by Winter Park Partners, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on May 13, and has been galloping very well under exercise rider Mario Madrid since then.
He may even have a final three-furlong blowout on the morning of the Preakness, an old-school training method Rick Dutrow likes to employ with some of his horses. Blake said that decision will be made tomorrow morning. For now, he is just trying to keep Zetterholm happy and healthy, and enjoying the experience.
“The horse is doing well,” Blake said. “Mario said he feels really good under him in the mornings, so that’s a good thing. He’s been running (with) New York-breds, but he’s a horse that looks like he’s improving and he has the right kind of running style for this race. He’s going to be running against better horses for sure, but why not give him a chance? He’s trained well and his (speed) numbers have gotten better.”
Speaking by phone earlier in the week, Rick Dutrow echoed those sentiments: “I’m just hoping that our colt runs big and shows up the right way. I’m under the impression that he will. We’re certainly hoping that he will. It’s a really tough spot for him. He hasn’t run against horses like this and he has to ship out of town to do it.
“It’s not a party, so that’s why we’re looking for our horse to run big and we’re looking to go forward with him. He’s doing good; we’re happy with him. It’s a big race for him. If he shows up, we’re going to be very, very happy.”
Jockey Junior Alvarado will make his Preakness debut aboard the bay. Alvarado has ridden him in his last two races, the most recent coming in the Patsyprospect Stakes on April 6, a 2 1/2-length victory going one mile.
Zetterholm, 20-1 on the morning line, was entered but scratched out of the Peter Pan (gr. II) last weekend at Belmont Park. Bred by Anthony Grey, he is out of the Lord At War mare Holy Wish.