The Morning After: Derby Also-Rans Moving On
One day after Orb took the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), it appears only a few of the 18 other horses that ran in the Derby will run back in two weeks in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Itsmyluckyday finished 15th in Saturday's Derby as the sixth betting choice, and Goldencents was 16th as the third choice.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said his Derby duo of Oxbow (sixth) and Will Take Charge (eighth) are heading to the second leg of the Triple Crown. Fifth-place finisher Mylute, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, also is a Preakness possibility.
Among new shooters for the Preakness, the MJC listed Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Departing and Heat Press, second in Pimlico's Federico Tesio Stakes. Others are Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner Govenor Charlie, Southwest Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Fear the Kitten, and allowance winner Bellarmine.
Dallas Stewart, who trains runner-up longshot Golden Soul, said he is inclined to pass on the Preakness because of the short time span between the 1 3/16-mile race and the 1 1/4-mile Derby. He said he would instead point the son of Perfect Soul to the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher said it is unlikely any of his five Derby starters, including third-place finisher Revolutionary, would be pointed toward the Preakness. Pletcher was also represented in the Derby by Charming Kitten (9th), Overanalyze (11th), Palace Malice (12th), and Verrazano (14th).
"I thought Revolutionary ran really well. Got shuffled back pretty far, made a sustained move, and galloped out in front," Pletcher said. "I was proud of his effort. I was hoping we could do a little better than third. The other ones seemed to struggle with the racetrack and things like that, but all came back in good shape and head to Belmont tomorrow (May 6)."
Revolutionary will aim to contend in the third jewel of the Triple Crown, as will Overanalyze.
"(Owner) Mike Repole also indicated we'd go next in the Belmont with his horse," Pletcher said. "He got shuffled around on the turn in the Derby, but came on late. It wasn't a horrible effort; actually it wasn't bad at all.
"I was very pleased with Charming Kitten's race," Pletcher added. "He ran great. For a horse running his first time on dirt, in a field like that on a track like that, he did very well. But he'll go back to grass now. That's where he belongs."
The conditioner wasn't so sure about future plans for his other two starters, Palace Malice and the previously undefeated Verrazano.
"Mike (jockey Mike Smith) said if he rode (Palace Malice) again, he wouldn't send him away from the gate like he did," Pletcher said. "Once the horse got going, he didn't want to come back. We'll take him up to New York now and look around and figure out where we want to go with him next.
"Verrazano just never seemed to travel well at all," Pletcher added. "I think the track really affected him. Somewhere along the way yesterday somebody stepped on his rear left hock and left an abrasion on it. It isn't that serious and I don't think it was the reason for why he ran the way he did, but it was just indicative of what kind of race it was. We'll step back with him, too, and make a plan at some point."
Trainer Chad Brown said fourth-place finisher Normandy Invasion would be returned to his home base at Belmont Park and would then decide on the next move. He said the ultimate goal with the son of Tapit is the Travers Stakes (gr. I).
"He came out of the race really well," Brown said. "I got a beautiful trip. He (Javier Castellano) gave me a great ground-saving trip in the first turn. I thought down the backside he made an excellent decision to stay off the rail and get out in the three or four path. At that point he identified Verrazano and figured I've got a live horse to follow just through the few holes that were ahead of him.
"When the cadence quickened, he went with him and I looked like the winner at the top of the lane," Brown said. "I would say at the eighth pole or sixteenth pole is when he got a little rubber-legged. I thought he was courageous in defeat and fought to the end. He just missed third there and he galloped out of it a little bit."
Brown said he and owner Rick Porter agreed the Preakness was not in the plan for Normandy Invasion.
"I don't want to run the horse back in two weeks," he said. "This is my Travers horse. I don't know what I'm going to do between now and then. He will run. I don't know how or when or how many times."
GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm's Mylute came out of his close, fifth-place finish "like he didn't do anything," according to GoldMark Farm general manager Todd Quast. The Preakness is a very strong possibility if he continues to show no signs of significant fatigue.
"We need a couple more days to think about it," Quast said after he and trainer Tom Amoss checked on the Louisiana Derby runner-up in his stall. "You wouldn't not want to go from what you see today, that's for sure. When he came out of the Louisiana Derby he was so high that we worked him back eight days later. If he comes back with that kind of energy we have to seriously look at it."
Mylute, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, flashed a huge move around the far turn—improving from second-last to seventh in an eighth of a mile—and fanned wide into the stretch with the leaders in his sights. The Midnight Lute colt could only run evenly through the lane, though, and came out on the bottom of a three-horse photo for show.
"We were a little further back than was desired and had to go wider than you'd like, but, given the trips you can have in the Derby, he ran huge," Quast said. "He just needed a little bit more. He got beat less than four lengths for all of it. We're proud of him. We went into it knowing that we'd need a perfect trip to move up to this and we were 3 3/4 lengths away from a perfect trip."
Mylute's explosive move gave his connections serious hope passing the quarter pole that he just might win it all.
"I'd like to bottle that feeling," Amoss said, smiling. "If you could you'd be a billionaire."
Another Derby competitor who is moving on to Pimlico for the Preakness is Goldencents, the 16th-place finisher who will remain at Churchill Downs until a flight can be arranged for him to go to Baltimore, Md.
"He came out of it in good shape ... and it looks like we are going to go there," said trainer Doug O'Neill.
The California-based trainer won last year's Preakness with Derby winner I'll Have Another whose attempt at a Triple Crown was aborted when he developed an injury during the week leading up to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
"We're still scratching our heads about the way the race unfolded," O'Neill said. "I think he just didn't enjoy the kickback (from mud being splashed by other horses) and where he was."
O'Neill had praise for young jockey Kevin Krigger and the way he handled Goldencents once the race unfolded. The Into Mischief colt usually races on the lead, but O'Neill said it was a good move not to closely track the sizzling early fractions set by leader Palace Malice.
Maryland Jockey Club officials, who were making the rounds of the Churchill Downs stable area the morning of May 5 to assess the Preakness situation, said trainer D. Wayne Lukas was planning to send both of his Derby starters—Oxbow and Will Take Charge, 6th and 8th, respectively—to the Preakness.
"I'm not disappointed at all," Lukas said. "I thought at the quarter pole, Oxbow was going to get it, but then I saw the pack coming. (Jockey) Gary (Stevens) was very happy with Oxbow."
Will Take Charge, ridden by Jon Court, was following Orb on the far turn, but at the top of the stretch had to check behind a retreating Verrazano.
"He got a little nick and that is maybe where it happened," Lukas said. "The seven-week break (from the Rebel, gr. II) was a good idea and I'd do it again. He was a fresh horse and I think he will definitely be better in the next one."
Lukas plans to van Oxbow and Will Take Charge to Maryland May 14 for another shot at Orb on his path to the Triple Crown.
"We are all going to have to get better to beat him," Lukas said. "I think the Preakness will be the biggest hurdle for him for the Triple Crown. If he gets by that, he gets to go back home to Belmont and run right out of his stall."
Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. reported that Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa's Itsmyluckyday came out of a disappointing performance in the Kentucky Derby "100 percent." The trainer said it was "60-40" that Itsmyluckyday will run in the Preakness Stakes.
The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) winner, who finished second behind Orb in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), checked in 15th behind the Kentucky Derby winner May 4.
"We have to blame it on the (sloppy) race track. It's not just making an excuse. He trained too well to run so bad," Plesa said. "You could see where he was struggling with the racetrack all the way around. It wasn't a case of soundness; it was a question of handling the racetrack."
Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park the morning of May 6.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Lines of Battle headed back to Ireland Sunday morning after making his inaugural run on dirt in the Kentucky Derby.
"He came out of the race fine," said T.J. Comerford, assistant to O'Brien. "They went so fast so early, it was a shock to his system. (Jockey) Ryan (Moore) said he was bothered by the kickback but once he settled in he ran well."
Comerford said Lines of Battle's travels would take him to Chicago for a brief layover, and then home to Ireland where he would land around noon Kentucky time.
Although the Preakness in two weeks would be a quick turnaround for Lines of Battle, Comerford said it may be a possibility.
"We will see what Aidan wants to do, but he may consider it since he ran so well," Comerford said. "He was a little bit like a 2-year-old with his first start. There was no time after Dubai (the group II UAE Derby on March 30) to run on dirt and you hate to use the Kentucky Derby as a prep. He's bred for the dirt and the Belmont may be more of a consideration."
Charles Fipke's Java's War and Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Frac Daddy both came back from their Derby experience in good order and were "bright" May 5 while walking the shedrow, according to assistant trainer Phil Bauer. Neither colt is under consideration for the Preakness but the Belmont Stakes remains a possibility.
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