Caracortado punched his ticket to next weekend’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with a seven-furlong work at Santa Anita May 8 with regular rider Paul Atkinson aboard. The son of Cat Dreams stopped the clock in 1:24 3/5, the faster of two works at the distance.
The California-based gelding won the first five races of his career, including the grade II Robert Lewis Stakes, but has not raced since a troubled fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 3.
“He looked great,” trainer Mike Machowsky said. “He got a good blow out of it and it tightened him up. He looked good back at the barn.”
Machowsky, who plans on arriving in Baltimore May 11, gained national attention six years ago with Southern Image, one of the nation’s elite older horses. He won both the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and Pimlico Special (gr. I) during the 2004 campaign, but Caracortado has brought the 44-year-old onto an even bigger stage.
“I’m pretty confident in the way he’s going,” added Machowsky, who has not been to Pimlico since Southern Image’s big score in the Special. “I think he’s going to bring his ‘A plus’ game to the race the way he’s training right now. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
It will be the first Triple Crown mount for Atkinson, who will turn 41 five days after the Preakness.
“He’s never ridden this horse poorly and the horse has always run well for him,” said Machowsky. “A good horse will make any trainer, owner or jockey look good and Paul’s never had the opportunity to ride a horse like him. There are so many trainers who don’t get the opportunity to get a horse like this. I always say its 80% the horse, 10% the jock, and 10% the trainer.”
At Churchill Downs, First Dude became a confirmed starter in the Preakness with a bullet, five-furlong work in 1:00 3/5 under Tammy Fox after the morning renovation break. Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Stephen Got Even in fractions of :11.60, :23.40, :35.20, :47.60, and out six furlongs in 1:14.80.
“I was very pleased with the work. It’s on to the Preakness,” trainer Dale Romans said.
The move, accomplished over a track labeled as fast, was the best of 13 at the distance. It was First Dude’s second bullet work since he finished third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 10.
Romans’ other Preakness probable, third-place Kentucky Derby (gr. I) finisher Paddy O'Prado, galloped a mile and a half after First Dude’s work.
Also at Churchill, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver galloped 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Todd Pletcher viewed the morning exercise from the frontside of the track.
“He galloped really, really well,” said Pletcher, who arrived in Louisville May 7 and was seeing the Derby winner on the track for the first time since his triumph in the Run for the Roses. “His energy level is very good and he has rebounded quickly. You always hope for that coming back in two weeks.”
WinStar Farm's Super Saver may have his lone Preakness tune-up work Monday, May 10.
“Right now, I am leaning toward working him,” Pletcher said. “I want to see how he gallops tomorrow, but most likely it will be an easy half-mile.”
Pletcher’s other Preakness starter, Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite , galloped a mile and three-eighths.
“He will work five-eighths in company in the morning,” Pletcher said of the Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr. III) runner-up. “He is training well.”
Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky galloped 1 1/2 miles after the renovation break under exercise rider Peter Hutton. Trainer Bob Baffert has yet to make a firm decision on Lookin At Lucky’s Preakness participation but said, “I’ll know by Monday.”
Baffert also addressed the rumor mill surrounding jockey Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard Lookin At Lucky in all nine of his starts.
“I am still not sure if I am going to run and if I don’t run, I don’t need to make a switch,” Baffert said. “There are a lot of rumors out there. What happened is I told Martin Garcia’s agent (Jim Pegram) not to do anything for Preakness day because I might have other horses running there that day.”