In Final Preakness Work, Easyfromthegitgo Breezes at Churchill

From Churchill Downs
James Cassels and Bob Zollars' Easyfromthegitgo, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby and a troubled third in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, breezed five furlongs over a "sloppy" track on Monday at Churchill Downs. It was the colt's final major training move before Saturday's Preakness, the second jewel of the Visa Triple Crown.

Jockey Donnie Meche was in the saddle as the Steve Asmussen-trained Easyfromthegitgo breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40. He was the first horse on the track after the morning break for track maintenance and carved out fractions of :12.80, :25.40, :38, and :50.20. The son of Dehere galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.40 as assistant trainer Scott Blasi looked on from a seat on his pony.

"He finished up well," said Blasi. "He went the last quarter in :24-and-change and we're pretty happy with the move. That's what we expected out of him - no more, no less."

While the wet track conditions prompted trainer Bob Baffert to move a scheduled work for Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem back until Tuesday, Blasi said the wet weather was not a concern for Easyfromthegitgo.

"Churchill Downs is such a good surface that we never change or alter our schedule because of a wet racetrack here," he said. "It's got such a good base and they never go through it. The time might be a little slower -- it might have been 1:01-and-change on a fast racetrack -- but it's more how he did it than the time. We were very pleased with it."

Blasi said Easyfromthegitgo would ship to Pimlico on the second of two Louisville-to-Baltimore flights on Wednesday. The colt will probably gallop on Wednesday morning before he boards the plane. Then it will be up to Easyfromthegitgo to show that he belongs in the Preakness field.

"That's the question with a lot of them still: are they good enough to win a classic race like that?," Blasi said. "He's had good company all winter with Repent, he's already run against War Emblem, and he had a troubled trip against Proud Citizen (in the Coolmore Lexington). He's been competitive with good horses and we're going to take our shot.

"He's just such a solid horse. He's just done what we've asked him. He's taken his losses well, he's never asked for any favors and he's just a solid little horse. He's very competitive and we'll find out Saturday whether or not we belong."

In news regarding other Preakness contenders at Churchill Downs:

-- Trainer Bob Baffert now plans to work Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem on Tuesday. Workout rider Dana Barnes will be in the saddle for the breeze. Exercise rider Mick Jenner was up Monday as the son of Our Emblem galloped over the "sloppy" surface just after the break for track maintenance.

-- Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday galloped, also after the break for track maintenance. Assistant trainer Helen Pitts was up for trainer Ken McPeek, who plans to work Harlan's Holiday on Tuesday before shipping to Baltimore on Wednesday. Harlan's Holiday finished seventh as the 6-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby.