(From Churchill Downs)
The exodus of Churchill Downs-based contenders for 134th running of the $1-million Preakness (gr. I) was completed May 13 when major contenders Rachel Alexandra and Pioneerof the Nile stepped onto separate vans around 12:30 p.m. EDT for the short trip to Louisville International Airport for their flight to Baltimore.
Those major players figure to be the top two betting choices in the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.
Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra, running for the first time for new owners Stonestreet Stables and Harold T. McCormick, was led from the barn of new trainer Steve Asmussen to her waiting van by assistant trainer Scott Blasi. She had galloped and stood briefly in the starting gate on her final morning of training before traveling to take on the boys in the Preakness.
Assistant trainer Jim Barnes accompanied Zayat Stables' Pioneerof the Nile, runner-up to Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and winner of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), to his van. The son of Empire Maker also galloped and spent a little time standing in the starting gate on his final morning of Preakness preparations at Churchill Downs.
Also leaving Churchill Downs for the flight to Baltimore was Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain, the fourth-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) for trainer Al Stall Jr.
Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach’s Mine That Bird traveled to Baltimore in trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley’s horse trailer May 12. Also making the trip to Pimlico by van the same day were owner-trainer Tom McCarthy’s Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner General Quarters, who finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Flying Private, last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby, and Marylou Whitney’s Luv Gov, who notched his first career victory in a Churchill Downs maiden race on the Kentucky Derby undercard.