Preakness Hopefuls On Track at Pimlico, Churchill Downs

By Steve Haskin and Ray Paulick, with notes from Churchill Downs
Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos galloped at Pimlico Racecourse Monday morning as he continues preparations for Saturday's Preakness Stakes, second leg of the Triple Crown. With trainer John Ward, Jr. observing, the son of Maria's Mon blew out the final furlong, as the trainer timed him in :12 3/5 from the eighth pole to wire. Ward got the mile gallop in 1:52 4/5.

"He just ran a mile and quarter in sub two minutes and we don't need to train him," Ward said. "All we need to do is prepare him."

Ward said the colt will walk the shedrow Tuesday and on Wednesday will gallop and will be schooled on turf course, where they saddle the field for Saturday's Preakness.

Also at Pimlico Monday, A P Valentine worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, with exercise rider Jamie Sanders aboard. Trainer Nick Zito got the son of A. P. Indy in fractional splits of :12 2/5, :24, :36, and :47 3/5 for the four furlongs. The colt galloped out six furlongs in 1:16 2/5.

" He went beautifully," Zito said. "The track was on the heavy side. I thought he was going to go in about 1:02. Jamie had a nice loose rein on him and he did everything on his own."

Zito said no decision had been made on who will ride A P Valentine in the Preakness, noting a final decision will be made after he confers with part-owner Rick Pitino, which could come later Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs trainer Bob Baffert worked his two Preakness candidates, with beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Point Given going out first for a five-furlong breeze. Baffert timed the son of Thunder Gulch in :59 4/5 for the distance.

Congaree, third in the Derby, also worked five furlongs, going 1:00 2/5, according to the trainer's stopwatch. Both worked under Dana Barnes. "They went nice and easy and galloped out good," Baffert said. "The track was good. They did it in hand, so it's on to the next show."

Missing from Congaree were the blinkers he has worn in all five career starts. Baffert said the blinkers are coming off because the Arazi colt should have enough experience to focus on racing.

"I've been running him with tiny little blinkers, but I don't think he needs them now. I had him run in them before because he was behind everybody (in experience) and he wasn't focused; he was looking around and all. The blinkers I had on him were very little anyway, so basically he can relax now without them."

Also breezing at Churchill was Dollar Bill, who appears to have recovered satisfactorily from his rough Derby trip. With Joanne McNamara aboard, Dollar Bill breezed five-eighths of a mile in 1:00 4/5.

"I thought he worked great," trainer Dallas Stewart said. "He was solid through the stretch. He worked in :24 for the last quarter...He did everything just the way you want him to do it. I like what he showed us this morning and, if he comes out of it good tomorrow and the next day, we're going on with it."

Point Given, Congaree, Dollar Bill, and Mr. John, who will have his final workout Tuesday, are scheduled to leave for Pimlico on Wednesday.