The prospective field for the May 16 Preakness (gr. I) received a boost in star power when assistant trainer Scott Blasi informed Maryland Jockey Club director of horsemen’s relations Phoebe Hayes that Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to fly to Baltimore May 13 for the May 16 $1 million classic. A decision on whether she actually gets on the plane will not be made until the filly works.
The Maryland Jockey Club expects a field of 13 for the 1 3/16th mile Preakness at Pimlico Race Course after Laurel Park-based trainer William Komlo announced that Tone It Down will run, while Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey told the Maryland Jockey Club that Conservative will not.
“We are excited at the prospect of seeing the first four finishers from the Kentucky Derby and the superstar filly in the Preakness,” said Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Tom Chuckas. “We could be looking at one for the ages.”
Rachel Alexandra, who won the May 1 Oaks by a record 20 1/4 lengths, was purchased earlier this week by Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick from L and M Partners, and transferred from the barn of Hal Wiggins to that of Steve Asmussen. Asmussen trained 2007 Preakness winner Curlin for a partnership that included Stonestreet.
“If she continues to be in perfect condition,” Jackson said in a statement yesterday, “our intention will be to run her in the Preakness.”
A Stonestreet spokeswoman said May 9 that no decision has been made to run Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and a final decision would not happen until after the filly works, which will happen at Churchill Downs May 10 or 11.
Rachel Alexandra is not nominated to the Triple Crown and can only get into the middle jewel of the Triple Crown if less than 14 pre-nominated horses are entered and her connections pay a $100,000 supplementary nomination fee.
Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli confirmed that he would make Rachel Alexandra the morning line favorite.
The $64,000 question for trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley is, “who is going to ride Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness?”
“Calvin Borel will be on the (entry) card,” Woolley said May 9 at Churchill Downs. “I do have a backup, but I am not ready to release it.”
Industry sources say among those being considered are Hall of Famer Mike Smith, a New Mexico native like Woolley and owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach, who won the 1993 Preakness aboard Prairie Bayou, and Chantal Sutherland, who rode the gelding four times as a 2-year-old, winning three stakes at Woodbine.
With a sloppy track greeting Mine That Bird for a third consecutive day, Woolley altered the morning exercise program from two trips around the track to a back-track to the paddock runway and then had him gallop once around with exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up.
The son of Birdstone will leave Louisville via van May 12 and arrive at Pimlico sometime after the afternoon rush hour.