Ah Day May Chase a Piece of Preakness Pie

(from Preakness notes)
King Leatherbury worked Tesio Stakes winner Ah Day five furlongs in 59 seconds at rainy Laurel Park Saturday morning. The handy move, the fastest of 26 at the distance, may have nudged the legendary Maryland trainer a little closer to supplementing the Malibu Moon  gelding to next Saturday's $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) instead of entering him in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.

The 73-year-old Leatherbury, third on the all-time training list with 6,134 victories, co-owns Ah Day with Malibu Moon Partnership. Regular rider Ryan Fogelsonger took instructions before their turn over the sloppy going at Laurel. Ah Day has yet to finish out of the money in six starts this year. Because Ah Day was not nominated to the Triple Crown, the ownership must pay $100,000 to enter the Preakness.

"We are leaving the door open, but there are three powerhouses in the race that are better than my horse," Leatherbury said. "The short field is making us consider the Preakness more strongly. We are handicapping the race to see if we can get a piece."

Fogelsonger has ridden Cherokee's Boy (2003) and Water Cannon (2004) in Maryland's signature race. "He finished strong without urging," the jockey said of Ah Day. "He is feeling unbelievable. I have never been on a horse that improves with each start like he does. He is the best three-year-old I have ever been aboard, and I honestly think he could pick up a check. I am confident he is capable of competing."

Leatherbury has had four Preakness starters during his career: Indigo Star (fifth-1978), Thirty Eight Paces (fourth-1981), I Am The Game (fourth-1985), and Malibu Moonshine (eighth-2005).