Preakness Notes: Sunday, May 14
Photo: Jeffrey Snyder
Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro on the track at Fair Hill Training Center.
A compilation of daily notes from Pimlico Race Course on the competitors in this year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

BARBARO – The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner jogged Sunday morning in the "nice, peaceful, calm and relaxing" surroundings of Fair Hill Training Center, reported trainer Michael Matz.

Barbaro, who carried the colors of Roy and Gretchen Jackson's Lael Stables into the Churchill Downs winner's circle on the first Saturday in May, will likely be an odds-on favorite in Saturday's 131st running of the Preakness Stakes after his dominating 6-1/2-length victory in the Derby.

"It's something that they can't take away from him. He'll always be the Kentucky Derby winner," Matz said. "We'll just try to get through this one, and go from there."

Matz said he didn't think Barbaro would have a workout before seeking to add the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to his flawless resume. The 1996 Olympic Silver Medal equestrian said he had no definite shipping plans for Barbaro.

"We may just ship on the day of the race" Matz said.

Trainer Michael Matz will meet with the media Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Fair Hill Training Center at 10:30 a.m.

BROTHER DEREK – For the second consecutive morning, the Benchmark colt jogged Sunday with a pony at Churchill Downs.

"He's feeling really good and has kind of got back underneath himself," trainer Dan Hendricks said by phone from California. "We're ready to go."

Following his dead-heat fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Brother Derek has had a very easy, though typical schedule for exercise.

"It's what I've done since, really, since the Norfolk (Oct. 2 at Santa Anita)," Hendricks said. "He doesn't even go back to the track for a week after the race. He usually just tack walks and hangs out. He's just as happy as can be doing that. When he goes back to the track, he's fresh and ready to go.

"It's a little by design to have a fresh 3-year-old. Last year we started doing this and I found out it worked really well, to be light out of his races. It doesn't require a lot of works between races. This is normal for him."

Hendricks said Brother Derek would start daily morning gallops on Monday.

Hendricks is opting to send the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner to Pimlico on Wednesday. Brother Derek was to be flown from Louisville to Baltimore on Wednesday, but the travel date was moved ahead to Tuesday.

"It's no big deal. We're going to switch back to Wednesday," Hendricks said. "He'll gallop strong Wednesday under Francisco Alvarado, my assistant, then ship up."

Rather than ship in early to Baltimore after the Derby, Hendricks decided to leave Brother Derek at Churchill Downs

"We put him right in Wally Dollase's barn," Hendricks said. "They're almost like family. He's been calling me two or three times a day. I just told him, 'Don't get too attached to him.'"

SWEETNORTHERNSAINT - Trainer Mike Trombetta was not discouraged by his Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner's seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby after going to post as the favorite in Louisville.

"He's at Laurel, and he's doing really well," said Trombetta, who was born in Baltimore and currently resides in nearby Kingsville. "We're getting ready for next weekend. We just hope to get a better trip (Sweetnorthernsaint was bumped and steadied, according to the Equibase chart). We'll jog and gallop him to the race; we won't breeze him.''

As to any possible advantage with former Maryland jockey Kent Desormeaux: "I would say that at this level these guys are all pretty good riders. (Barbaro's jockey) Edgar Prado's won an awful lot of races here, too. I don't see where there would be any advantage for us.''

Trainer Mike Trombetta will meet with the media Monday at the Pimlico Stakes Barn at 11:30 a.m.

LIKE NOW - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Sunday that he hasn't decided when his Gotham (gr. III) winner will make the trip from Belmont Park to Pimlico.

While McLaughlin said he hopes to attend the post position draw at the ESPN Zone on Wednesday, travel plans for the John Dillon's homebred son of Jules have yet to be finalized. The options, McLaughlin said, are Thursday or Friday.

Like Now returned to the track at Belmont Sunday morning and galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Barry Downs. After working a half-mile in :49 1/5 Thursday, Like Now was walked by McLaughlin's staff on Friday and Saturday mornings.

McLaughlin said Like Now will gallop up to the race. The Preakness will be Like Now's fifth start this year. He won an optional claimer at Aqueduct Jan. 12, secured his first stakes win in the Fred Capossela Feb. 18, and scored an upset victory in the Gotham March 18 at odds of 36-1. In the Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland April 22, he was second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Showing Up.

HEMINGWAY'S KEY – Uncharacteristically, Nick Zito didn't have a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but he'll be represented Saturday by Hemingway's Key, who worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 at Saratoga Sunday.

"He's a horse that we always thought had the potential," said Zito, who won the Preakness exactly 10 years ago with Louis Quatorze. "He won his first two starts, then had kind of a mixed-up winter. I didn't have the right conditions for him. I didn't have the right spots. He showed some life, believe it or not, in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II). He was only beaten 7 ½ lengths. He had some trouble in the Lane's End (gr. II), then we thought he'd run great in the Lexington (gr. II), and it was kind of a weird race."

Zito added blinkers for his last two starts.

"I know he's a true distance horse," Zito said of the George Steinbrenner-owned colt. "I think if he has a good Preakness, then he could go on to the Belmont (gr. I). He's much better than he's been showing. Barbaro obviously looks sensational off his last race, so we're just gonna try."

Zito reported that Hemingway's Key and his other Preakness weekend stakes performers will be vanned from Saratoga to Pimlico on Wednesday.

BERNARDINI – The lightly raced Withers Stakes (gr. III) winner galloped 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park Sunday morning in preparation for his scheduled entry into grade I company.

Bernardini, who finished fourth in his career debut at Gulfstream Park in January, returned to break his maiden by more than seven lengths two months later at the Florida track. The son of A.P. Indy easily negotiated the jump from maiden company to grade III foes to score by nearly four lengths in the Withers April 29.

Said trainer Tom Albertrani, "He's lightly raced, and we know it's a big step up, but the manner in which he won the Withers has given us a lot of confidence for this race."

Albertrani said the Darley Stable's homebred colt will breeze five furlongs on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the weather.

Bernardini is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Friday afternoon.

DIABOLICAL – Trainer Steve Klesaris entered Diabolical into the Preakness mix Sunday, but a decision has yet to be made whether the son of Artax will be entered.

"It's a shorter field and the distance is a little shorter (than the Kentucky Derby)," Klesaris said. "We still haven't made a decision to run, but it is under high consideration."

Klesaris, who owns Diabolical in partnership with Puglisi Stables, said their colt's ability to get a classic distance of ground is still in question.

"I wanted to give him a race around two turns," said Klesaris, who saddled Diabolical for a handy 8 1/4-length score in an entry-level allowance race at Delaware Park April 25. "He handled the two turns well, but most of all, he came off the bridle and relaxed."

Diabolical is stabled at Fair Hill Training Center in a barn situated next to the one housing Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who will be the horse to beat again at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday. Diabolical made a solid showing against Barbaro last fall, when he finished second behind the future Derby champion in the Laurel Futurity on turf despite a very wide trip from his No. 13 post.

"I know this is a good group of colts," Klesaris said. "We just want to figure out if (the Preakness) is open for us to get a piece."

Ramon Dominguez will ride Diabolical in the event that Klesaris decides to put him onto the Triple Crown trail.

AH DAY – Federico Tesio Stakes winner Ah Day walked the shedrow Sunday morning, the day after he turned in a bullet workout at Laurel Park.

Trainer King Leatherbury said the gelded son of Malibu Moon   showed no ill effects from the five-furlong work in :59, the fastest of 26 at the distance.

"He seemed to be fine this morning," Leatherbury said. "He's seemed to be OK."

Leatherbury said Ah Day would determine whether he returns to the track Monday morning.

"It depends. If he's real high, we'll send him back," Leatherbury said. "If he's not, we'll give him another day off."

Leatherbury will wait a few more days before he decides whether Ah Day will run in the $1 million Preakness or the $100,000 Sir Barton on the Preakness Day program. The entries for Saturday will be taken on Wednesday morning.

Since Ah Day was not nominated to the Triple Crown series, it will cost his owners $100,000 to supplement him to the Preakness. Ah Day is co-owned by the Malibu Moon Partnership and Leatherbury, who owns the gelding's dam, Endette.

"That's the thing that makes the decision on the Preakness so hard," Leatherbury said. "I'd have to forfeit a stake where I would be one of the favorites."

LEWIS MICHAEL – Trainer Wayne Catalano's Preakness debut will have to wait for at least one more year with the announcement Sunday that Lewis Michael will take the New York route to the Belmont Stakes.

"We decided to go to the Peter Pan," Catalano said after deciding that Frank Calabrese's homebred will run Saturday at Belmont Park. "Belmont's a bigger track, and we like the setup. We'd love to come to the Preakness, but there's a lot of speed in the race and we didn't think it was in our best interest."

Most Popular Stories