Shirreffs Discusses Weather, Pace for Saturday's Preakness

Trainer John Shirreffs took some time at the stakes barn at Pimilco on a wet Friday morning to discuss Giacomo and his chances for tomorrow's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) two weeks ago at 50-1 and the colt makes his bid to become the fourth 3-year-old in a row to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

The gray/roan son of Holy Bull didn't go to track this morning, not venturing out in the adverse condition, but he did walk the shedrow.

"He had a good gallop yesterday," Shirreffs said of Jerry and Ann Moss' homebred. "So we didn't need to go to the track today."

"I just want to make sure that I don't over train," he said. "The main thing is I don't want to take the race away from him. I always like to think that a horse has 'live legs.' I don't want his legs tired. Like when you have a strong workout, it takes a couple of days for your body to recover, so I think it's the same thing with a horse. I thought he looked real good. I thought he handled the surface. It's similar to Churchill Downs."

While the weather forecast for Baltimore calls for up to two inches of rain to fall during the day, the forecast for Saturday is for dry conditions and a high temperature in the low 70s.

"I would image the track will be very good tomorrow," Shirreffs said. "I think these tracks handle rain very well. As soon as the sun comes out, they dry out very fast. I don't think that's a concern at all. I think the track is very similar to Churchill Downs from what I can see. The stretch might not be as long, but it's pretty long. The surface is similar, it's a sandy track."

As for the running of the race and the company Giacomo will face, Shirreffs sees a similar scenario to the Derby.

"Giacomo can lay closer, but I'm going to leave that up to Mike Smith," he said. "I see it pretty much like the Kentucky Derby, because a lot of the Kentucky Derby runners are in there. A couple of other horses in there have speed, how they'll use it, I don't know; it's up to each trainer and jockey what they decide to do, but in this type of race, I think somebody will want to make a little bit of a pace.

"The only thing not to be to our advantage is if they go out of the gate and after an eighth of a mile, they all put on the breaks and they get jammed up and you're seven-, eight-, nine-wide going around the first turn. That's the worst-case scenario.

"Ideally, I'd like to see the horses spread out a little bit like it was in the Kentucky Derby," he said. "I'd like to see him laying maybe eighth, ninth, somewhere in there."

The Derby winner has been made the fourth choice on the morning line at 6-1, behind Afleet Alex, Closing Argument, and High Fly. Shirreffs was asked about the horse getting the respect he deserves, and the trainer actually feels Giacomo is feeling the love.

"I think a lot of people actually like Giacomo," he said. " I think he's getting a lot of respect. I think the people that have actually seen the horse and watched the race and saw what he had to overcome, weaving through traffic and getting to the outside and finishing well, I think they really appreciate Giacomo's effort."