One day before Super Saver was scheduled to tackle the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), his exercise rider, Kevin Willey said “everything” about the colt was better since his victory in the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Willey discussed the WinStar Farm homebred’s condition and demeanor after galloping him a little more than a mile May 14 at Pimlico.
“The track was mostly empty today,” Willey said, “but when we were coming to the turn after the wire and there was one horse in front of him, he jumped back on the bit, and he did it like real quick. He was just like ‘OK, let’s go by this horse.’ He wants some competition.”
Continuing to rave about the talents of Super Saver, Willey added: “I would like to measure his stride because he just feels like he covers so much ground with so much ease. It’s like you’re getting around the track quicker than you would on a regular horse, but you’re not going any faster than a regular horse. It’s just the way he gets over the track. He doesn’t feel any different on a dry track than he feels on a wet track.”
After Willey and Super Saver returned from the track to the Preakness Barn, Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas, who will challenge Super Saver with Dublin and Northern Giant, asked Willey, “How did it go, jock?” And the rider confidently replied, “He’ll go wire to wire Saturday.”
Willey has seen a change in Super Saver’s attitude since the Maria's Mon colt’s Derby triumph.
“I thought he had the class back then,” Willey said, “but when he hears the click, click, click of (camara) shutters, he’s like ‘OK, I’ll pose.’ He just feels like he’s half human. It’s like he’s saying, ‘I know what I’ve done and I’m going to do it again.’ ”
When asked about Willey's opinion that Super Saver had improved “mentally and physically” since the Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said, “Man, I hope he’s right.”
Super Saver galloped for the first time over Pimlico’s dirt surface, which had dried off since the day before, when the bay colt jogged.
“The track was in excellent shape this morning,” Pletcher said. “I thought he galloped really well. He got over the ground great, and he was enthusiastic. We’ve been really, really pleased with the way he’s trained since the Derby.
"There’s not much to it; we’re just trying to keep him happy. But everything that he’s shown us is very, very good and very, very positive. He’s held his weight well. That’s always a concern out of a big race like that, but his appetite has been very good. He’s not a heavy colt by any means, but I don’t think he’s lost much (weight) from the Derby, if any.”
Super Saver, the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Preakness, will break from post No. 8 under jockey Calvin Borel.