“The decision to run in the Preakness was made by his owner Mrs. (Beatrice) Oxenberg,” Plesa said. “She has family up in Baltimore and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t come. She said she wants to come and taste the crab cakes. We were going to run in the (Kentucky) Derby but we didn’t get in (based on earnings in graded stakes).”
Hey Byrn, who worked a mile in 1:45-flat May 5 at Calder Race Course, will arrive in Maryland May 12. The bay colt is coming off a 2 ¼-length victory in the April 12 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream. That event is run at the same 1 3/16-mile distance as the Preakness.
Hey Byrn has been solid as a 3-year-old, his only hiccup coming in the March 29 Florida Derby (gr. I), when he finished fourth, nearly 16 lengths in back of a buzz saw named Big Brown. Other than that, he has been flawless, winning two allowance events at Gulfstream, as well as his convincing victory in the Holy Bull.
Oxenberg purchased Hey Byrn for $160,000 at the OBS Selected Sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was bred in Florida by the recently deceased Arthur I. Appleton.
Hey Byrn is out of the Skip Trial mare Restraining Order, who was also bred by Appleton. Put It Back was five-for-five as a 3-year-old, all the victories being sprints, including the Riva Ridge Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont.
Plesa, 59, has ranked among the leading trainers at Calder for two decades. He is fourth all-time at the track. He started filly Three Ring in the 1999 Kentucky Derby, but she finished last. This will be Plesa’s first Preakness starter. C.C. Lopez will have the May 17 mount.
“It looks to me that if you take out Big Brown than you could run the rest of those horses 10 times and probably have six different winners,” Plesa said. “It looks like most of the 3-year-olds are pretty equal.”