First Dude

First Dude

Anne M. Eberhardt

Preakness Doings: Me and Julio...

If you're a fan of Paul Simon you already know who this column focuses on.

Have no idea what that headline has to do with the Preakness (gr. I)? Well, it’s only part of the story, but if you know Paul Simon you can probably fill in the rest and make the connection.

Yes, we’re goin’ down by the Schoolyard for our price horse, even though Schoolyard Dreams didn’t ship in until Friday morning and we haven’t seen him on the track. But as mentioned in our May 12 column, there are a number of things to recommend him, and we’re looking for good odds in what appears to be a very wide-open race.


The question is what to do with him. He should be worth a win bet, but there are plenty of ways to play him in the exotics.


Some feel after his dull effort in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) he is more of a Tampa specialist and hasn’t shown anything to indicate he can compete with this caliber of horses. But he has already finished ahead of Super Saver this year, and in all likelihood should have won the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). And as mentioned in Wednesday’s column, any horse who can fire nine bullet works (all breezes) in his last 12 works has to have a great deal of ability. So, we’re going to take a shot and go with a fresh horse who, as a May 8 foal by Stephen Got Even, should be on an upward spiral. And he looked very good physically coming off the van this morning, bouncing along on his way to the barn.


Based on what we’ve seen so far this week, you have to include the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner, Super Saver , in all bets. He has held his flesh extremely well since the Derby and had a good strong gallop this morning. And then there is Paddy O'Prado, who we loved in the Derby and who could have been right there with a smoother trip. He’s a horse who is always on ‘go,’ and you have to watch him around ponies and fillies, as he has  tendency to get a bit studdish. But his gallops have been just as strong as they were at Churchill and he certainly deserves another chance.


Our initial inclination for the exotics was to box Schoolyard Dreams, Super Saver, and Paddy O’Prado in the trifectas and exactas, and we’ve seen no reason to alter that.


If you’re more of a fan of Lookin At Lucky  or Dublin than Super Saver, they would be worthy substitutes in the exotics. No one is more deserving of some good luck than Lookin At Lucky, and he has bounced out of the Derby in excellent shape. Dublin, however, will have to get a dream trip going into the first turn after breaking from the far outside in post 12. He didn’t have the greatest of trips either in the Derby, and in fact, has had his fair share of bad luck in his several other races this year.


We couldn’t find any flaws in any of the starters and all of them seem to be coming up to the race in good shape. Even Wayne Lukas, who likes to sit at the end of the barn near his office and watch the opposition walk by, said they looked like a very sound group of horses.


The one horse who has been growing on us each day is First Dude , a giant of a horse who moves beautifully over the track. He is very light on his feet for a horse that huge. But he definitely is a horse who needs to stay out of trouble, because you don’t want to have step on the brakes and then try to get him going again. So, he should be OK from the 11-post.


Aikenite  has made an excellent physical appearance, and the inside post should actually help him take back and make one late run, which is the way he wants to run. He is a horse who is capable of coming on late and getting a piece of it.  So, if you're really looking for a score, he is an intriguing horse to back up the exotics.


As for Caracortado, he has made good progress physically since the day he arrived, and has the turn of foot to make his presence felt. Remember, he did win the first five starts of his career and won his debut on the dirt at Fairplex Park. Even Jackson Bend, Pleasant Prince, and Yawanna Twist are capable of running big races in this field, and Lukas feels his other entrant, Northern Giant, is ready for a big effort after suffering from pharyngitis in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I).


But we’ll stick with our original trio (Schoolyard Dreams, Paddy O’Prado, and Super Saver) and play Schoolyard Dreams to win if he’s a halfway decent price.


And just for the heck of it, we’ll look for a killing by boxing Schoolyard Dreams and stablemates Paddy O’Prado and First Dude in exactas and trifectas.


* In an unrelated matter, our condolences to Carolyn Hine on the death of her beloved Skip Away. Carolyn, who has been recuperating from knee replacement surgery, was planning to travel, and her first order of business was to visit “Skippy” at Hopewell Farm. She has to be devastated, as Skip Away had become an everlasting link to her late husband, Sonny, who trained the 1998 Horse of the Year. Carolyn’s greatest thrill was seeing “the two men in my life” inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is a wound that will never heal and we grieve along with her, as Skippy was one of our favorite horses of all time, and as tough and rugged as any horse we’ve ever seen. It is hard to fathom his heart ever giving out. He also was a major part of our daughter’s childhood. We brought her to visit Skip Away, Sonny, and Carolyn and their family of cats on numerous occasions, and those memories will never die.