Preakness Field Could Include 10 Runners; Diabolical Confirmed

Trainer Steve Klesaris has confirmed that Diabolical would be entered in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. The field for the 1 3/16-mile race could now include 10 runners.

According to notes from the track, in addition to Diabolical, the field could include Platinum Couple and Greeley's Legacy, who is also under consideration for the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.

Diabolical, a son of Artax walked the shedrow under tack Monday morning after breezing a half mile in :48.64 seconds at Fair Hill Training Center May 14.

"He came out of the work in good shape," said Klesaris, who owns the 3-year-old colt in partnership with the Puglisi Stables. "We're going ahead and enter him. Diabolical's a talented colt. I don't believe anyone has seen the best of Diabolical yet. Obviously, Barbaro's a tremendous horse, but I think some of the other colts might be vulnerable."

Although Diabolical is a new shooter on the Triple Crown trail, he's held his own against this year's top 3-year-olds, including Barbaro and Bluegrass Cat. After finishing third behind the latter in the Nashua (gr. III) at Belmont Park last fall, Diabolical finished a distant second behind Barbaro on turf in the Laurel Futurity.

"Barbaro's a superior horse, but we still see this race as a good opportunity for Diabolical," the trainer said.

Ramon Dominguez will ride Diabolical in the Preakness.

Glen Lostritto of Team Tristar Stable informed Pimlico stakes coordinator Wendy Pensivy that Platinum Couple is being "considered" for the Preakness following a four-furlong workout in :51.24 seconds Monday morning at Belmont Park.

Platinum Couple, a New York-bred son of Tale of the Cat , finished fifth by 10 ½ lengths the Wood Memorial (gr. I. He was fourth in the Whirlaway and third in the Count Fleet behind Achilles of Troy and second in an optional claimer before the Wood. He won the restricted Damon Runyon Dec. 11 at Aqueduct.

Greeley's Legacy, a son of Mr. Greeley and a winner of two of 11 lifetime races, finished fourth behind Showing Up in the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) in his most recent start. Greeley's Legacy had previously finished a distant seventh in the Wood Memorial and a close fourth behind Like Now in the Gotham (gr. III).

In other Preakness news, Barbaro, winner of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) galloped 1 1/2 miles under assistant trainer Peter Brette at Fair Hill Training Center Monday. Michael Matz conditions the son of Dynaformer for Roy and Patricia Jackson's Lael Stable.

Cecil Peacock's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner, Brother Derek, was given his first gallop since the Kentucky Derby when he covered a mile at Churchill Downs Monday.

"My assistant, Francisco Alvarado, got on him this morning and said he felt really good and fresh without being stupid," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "We're really happy with that and everything seems to be set and ready to go."

Brother Derek will ship from Churchill Downs to Pimlico on a Tex Sutton flight Wednesday, when Hendricks will fly from California to Baltimore to attend the post position draw at 5 p.m. later in the day at the ESPN Zone.

When Hendricks returned to California following the Derby, Brother Derek was moved to a stall in trainer Wally Dollase's barn at Churchill Downs. Dollase watched Monday morning as Alvarado jogged the Benchmark colt in the chute before moving out for the gallop.

"Today, I was impressed because of his demeanor," Dollase said. "He did exactly what the rider wanted him to. He's been tack walking quite a bit, but he was a gentleman. He did everything absolutely perfect. He'll stand there all day on the racetrack if you want him to. Most horses are nervous about it. He wasn't nervous at all."

During their daily phone conversations, Hendricks gives Dollase instructions on what he would like done with the colt.

"I'm not going to send him (Hendricks) a bill," Dollase said. "I'm privileged to take care of the horse. I'm just happy to be the lucky guy he chose to take care of his horse."

Preakness new shooter, Bernardini galloped 1 1/2 miles Monday at Belmont Park for trainer Tom Albertrani.

"He has just a terrific disposition. His attitude is very, very good," said Albertrani. "He has no bad habits."

Bernardini may not have looked like a Preakness candidate when he finished fourth after a slow start in his six-furlong career debut at Gulfstream Park Jan. 7, but the Darley Stable's homebred-colt made an impression two months later at the South Florida track while winning by nearly eight lengths at a mile.

"After his first start, he got sidetracked with a lung infection, so we took our time with him," Albertrani said. "We gave him all the time he needed until he was ready."

After his smashing maiden-breaker, Bernardini proved ready again for his next challenge – a quantum leap to grade III stakes competition in the Withers at Belmont April 29. Bernardini scored by nearly four lengths as jockey Javier Castellano lost his whip in the stretch run.

"It's going to be a difficult task running against Barbaro, but we felt the manner in which he won the Withers earned him the chance to run," Albertrani said. "There's only one Preakness."

Albertrani, who will name Castellano to ride his colt when entries are taken Wednesday, reported that Bernardini is slated to breeze five furlongs at Belmont May 16, weather permitting. The Withers winner is scheduled to be vanned to Pimlico May 19.

Like Now remains on course for the Preakness following a 1 3/8-mile gallop Monday at Belmont Park.

"I don't know whether we'll be able to gallop (Tuesday) because we're getting hit pretty hard with rain. He might have to trot. But he's doing very well," said tainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

McLaughlin plans to attend the post position draw for the Preakness Wednesday.

Like Now may be shipped on Friday, but the trainer said it was possible the colt could ship Thursday.

Trainer Nick Zito said Hemingway's Key would arrive at Pimlico Wednesday from his Saratoga base.

"He just walked the shedrow and walked with tack," Zito said Monday. "He had a good work yesterday, and he's really got a lot of energy. He's a fiery type of horse. I just wish he would put it together. I'm gonna take the blinkers off again and hope he just stays steady and shows what he can do.''

Another runner that remains a possibility is Ah Day from the barn of trainer King Leatherbury. The Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon  is also under consideration for the Sir Barton.

"We're just hanging around and seeing what happens," Leatherbury said.

Leatherbury decided that one day of walking the shedrow following a breeze was enough for his Federico Tesio winner and sent the gelding back to the track at Laurel Park Monday morning.

"He just galloped lightly," Leatherbury said. "He's come out of his work good."

Leatherbury said the son of Malibu Moon covered 1 1/2 miles Monday after turning in a bullet five-furlong work in :59 Saturday.