A decision as to whether Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra will be supplemented into the field for the $1 million Preakness (gr. I) could be made May 10 or 11 after the filly works for her new trainer, Steve Asmussen. The Preakness will be held May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
The status of two other likely Preakness starters, Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile and Derby favorite Friesan Fire, will be made May 10 and May 11, respectively, after both work.
Conservative and Tone It Down are also under consideration for Maryland’s marquee race. The Preakness is limited to 14 starters.
Rachel Alexandra, who was purchased by Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick May 6 and transferred to Asmussen, made one trip around the sloppy Churchill Downs oval May 8 with exercise rider Dominic Terry up. Asmussen, who conditioned 2007 Preakness winner Curlin for a group that included Stonestreet, indicated his new star would work at Churchill Downs.
Rachel Alexandra is not nominated to the Triple Crown and could 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. If she runs, Rachel Alexandra would be the first Oaks winner ever to run in the Preakness. Fifty-two fillies have competed in the Preakness with four crossing the finish line first: Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915) and Nellie Morse (1924). The most recent filly to run in the middle jewel was Excellent Meeting 10 years ago.
The lone Preakness starter in the Pimlico stakes barn, Delta Jackpot winner Big Drama, jogged a mile and then galloped under exercise rider and assistant trainer Celia Fawkes, who said the son of Montbrook would have the same routine this weekend leading up to his May 11 breeze. Big Drama has won five-of-seven lifetime starts and saw his five-race win streak end in the March 28 Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park despite setting a track record at seven-furlongs when he was disqualified for interfering with the runner-up.
“I think a fresh horse has an advantage going into the Preakness, that’s why we’ve seen so many spoils in the Triple Crown,” said trainer David Fawkes. “The horse hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s always gotten the distance we’ve asked him to get. First time at a mile and a sixteenth over a deep racecourse at Calder he did it. Went to a bullring at Delta Downs, he did that.”
Papa Clem, the fourth place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, will be the next Preakness starter in the Pimlico stakes barn when the Gary Stute trainee arrives May 9. The Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner is expected to leave Louisville at 10 a.m. Stute’s father, Mel, won the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief.
“You only get one chance with the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, and with my stable I don’t know if I’ll get too many more opportunities,” Stute said. “Most of my horses are claiming horses and most of them are used to running back in two weeks so to be honest I’m kind of anxious to run this horse back in two weeks. I thought the Preakness would be the perfect distance for my horse and my dad’s two-for-two; he won the Preakness and the Dixie (Kadial, 1988) there. So far, at least at Pimlico, the Stutes are undefeated.”
Stute plans on walking Papa Clem May 10, galloping May 11, and working the son of Smart Strike five-furlongs May 12.
Larry Jones will ship Friesan Fire to Pimlico May 11 and plans on breezing the son of A.P. Indy, who suffered cuts in his left front foot while getting bumped shortly after the start of the Derby and finished 18th as the betting favorite, five-furlongs with jockey Gabriel Saez the following morning, and then make a final decision.
Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird galloped a little more than two miles over a sloppy Churchill Downs racing surface under exercise rider Charlie Figueroa.
“Everything has fallen into place since the Derby,” trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. said. “He is doing good. He is eating good. He hasn’t lost any weight, not that he could afford to lose any.”
The son of Birdstone will leave Louisville via van May 12 and arrive at Pimlico sometime after the afternoon rush hour. The Maryland Jockey Club has arranged a police escort for Mine That Bird and his connections from Interstate 70, prior to the Baltimore Beltway, into Pimlico.
D. Wayne Lukas (Flying Private) and Tom McCarthy (General Quarters) plan on vanning their Preakness starters from Churchill to Pimlico May 12 as well.
Terrain, Hull, Pioneerof the Nile, and Rachel Alexandra, if the latter two run, will fly into Baltimore May 13, the day of the post position draw.
Trainer Derek Ryan told Maryland Jockey Club officials that Musket Man, the third place finisher in the Derby, will remain at Monmouth Park until the morning of the Preakness, with a scheduled arrival at 6:30 a.m., the morning of the middle jewel.
“We’ve been on the road for a long time and we want to be able to stay home for as long as we can,” said Ryan. “Plans remain the same, to work the horse three-eighths on Tuesday, if the rain cooperates. We seem to be coming in under the radar, but were used to it. We knew we had a big horse coming into his first start.”
Take the Points will put in his final Preakness work May 9 or 10, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. The connections skipped the Derby for the son of Even the Score to compete in the Preakness.
Trainers Shug McGaughey and William Komlo informed Maryland Jockey Club officials that a decision would be made May 9 on the Preakness prospects of Conservative and Tone It Down, respectively.