Barbaro Updates: 278
updates are now here.
Update 1879: Preakness update from Pimlico:
Todd Pletcher won three stakes races on the Preakness undercard a year ago and often runs horses in Maryland. However the nation's top conditioner has only saddled one starter in the $1 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I) with Impeachment, who was third in 2000. That will change in eight days when he brings Team Valor's King of the Roxy to Baltimore for the 132nd running of the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown.
King of the Roxy has finished first or second in five of his seven career starts, including a second place finish in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby last month at a mile and an eighth. The son of Littleexpectations has a pair of Grade II wins sprinting: The Futurity last September and Hutchinson at Gulfstream Park in March.
"We started focusing on the Preakness immediately after the Santa Anita Derby," Pletcher said this morning from his Belmont Park office. "He has only been long a couple times and in the one start at Churchill (Breeders' Cup Juvenile) it wasn't his best effort. He lost some training time when we first got to Florida over the winter so we felt we didn't want to rush him and pointed to the Preakness."
John Velazquez will make his Preakness debut aboard King of the Roxy, who will work at Belmont Sunday and ship into Pimlico Race Course Thursday with three or four other Pletcher horses who will run Preakness weekend. Owner Barry Irwin will represent King of the Roxy at Wednesday's Post Position Draw.
King of the Roxy is one of seven potential new shooters who will face four horses who competed in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (Grade I), including the top three finishers: Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin.
Trainer Carl Nafzger reported Street Sense walked the shedow at Churchill Downs this morning and will gallop tomorrow. The Derby winner will arrive at Pimlico Wednesday on the second Tex Sutton flight out of Louisville and will be stabled in Stall 40 of the stakes barn, which is reserved for the Derby winner.
"Now the pressure is on me," joked Nafzger, who has saddled two career Preakness starters, including Unbridled, who finished second in 1990.
Calvin Borel, who has never ridden at Pimlico, has the mount.
It was back to business as usual for Derby runner-up Hard Spun according to trainer Larry Jones. The son of Danzig galloped a mile and a half and jogged a quarter-mile at Delaware Park.
"It was vintage Hard Spun," Jones said. "He is as normal as normal can be. We have total confidence in him. We do not have any plans to breeze him. As well as he's doing we'll just have to play it by ear. If he acts like he needs to we'll let him blow off a little steam, but we do not plan to schedule a work for him, but we'll do as we've done all spring, we'll let him tell us what we need to do and hopefully we'll be able to understand what he's saying and do right."
Mario Pino, the winningest rider in Maryland history with nearly 4,900 victories at Pimlico, Laurel Park, Bowie and Timonium, has his third Preakness mount.
"I know I've got a great horse and Street Sense is a great horse. That's going to give me a lot of confidence," said Pino, who is one win shy of tying Jerry Bailey for 15th on the all-time win list. "Now Calvin's coming to my country. He beat me at Churchill and he knows that track and you can see the way he moved in the Derby he knew every nick and cranny of that rail. He had to have a lot of confidence. I can ride Pimlico with confidence. I know every nick and cranny at Pimlico. I know how the turns are. I know sharp they are and when to drop in. At Churchill I was kind of a little skeptical. At Pimlico it's going to give me a slight edge. It's always good to get a trip around the track and I have many, many trips around Pimlico. If I can bring that into how I ride Hard Spun and I can bring out a winner that would be a plus."
When trainer Steve Asmussen announced yesterday that Curlin would be Preakness bound it meant the second time in the last three years that the top three finishers in the "Run For The Roses" came back two weeks later. Unlike Street Sense and Hard Spun who had perfect trips in Louisville, the lightly raced son of Smart Strike was steadied early and rallied from 14th to finish third while five-wide.
"I don't know that he'll improve but I don't expect any drop," Asmussen said yesterday on an NTRA conference call. "I think his inexperience will now refer to the fact that he's a fresher horse than anybody simply because he doesn't have the miles or the races in him. An adage in racing that I truly believe in is 'get paid for what you do but also you pay for what you do'. We're looking at a horse with four lifetime races and a million dollars. It puts him in elite company."
Two starters will be in the Pimlico stakes barn Sunday. Jamie Sanders will van Teuflesberg, who finished 17th in the Derby, from Churchill Downs after training Sunday morning while Robbie Bailes will have a shorter trip with Mint Slewlep, vanning the 37 miles from the Bowie Training Center in time to train at Pimlico after the renovation break.
Bailes said his charge who was fourth in the Grade I Withers last month will tentatively work Monday and named New York-based Alan Garcia as his pilot for Maryland's signature race.
Mark Shuman continues to look for a rider for Tesio winner Xchanger, who galloped two miles at the Fair Hill Training Center this morning.
"We are planning a five eighths of a mile workout tomorrow morning, weather permitting," Shuman said. "I'm just looking for a nice maintenance workout. He's very fresh so I don't want him getting too speedy. Our plans now are to come to Pimlico late the day before the Preakness or early Preakness morning. We don't have a confirmed rider yet but Ramon Dominguez, Edgar Prado or Garrett Gomez will likely ride him."
Prado and Dominguez, both former Maryland riding stars, are also considering mounts aboard Chelokee, a potential new shooter from the Michael Matz stable. Matz, who will saddle the morning line favorite in tomorrow's Hilltop Stakes at Old Hilltop, has indicated a decision will be made on the third place finisher of the Florida Derby (Grade I) after the son of Cherokee Run works this weekend at Fair Hill.
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito will also make a final decision on whether to start Withers runner-up C P West. However the popular New Yorker is leaning towards saddling his 18th starter in the Preakness, which would move him into a third place tie with Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons on the all-time list.
Fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas leads that list with 31 Preakness starters. Lukas has committed to at least one Preakness starter, either Derby Trail winner Flying First Class or Starbase, who finished second in the Lexington Stakes.
Update 1878: Tapeta track, the same we use at Fair Hill, has now been adopted by a new Pennsylvania racetrack: New Pennsylvania Track to Install Tapeta Surface.
Steve Haskin makes interesting observations about Curlin's trip in the Derby, and Tiago's gallop out after the Derby (and the need to work at Churchill to win the Derby): Steve Haskin's Preakness Report - Curlin's Derby Better Than it Looks.
Update 1877: Another pleasant and quiet morning for me this morning at Fair Hill. It was again a little muggy, but not too hot. I had three to ride. Gator Nation was my first. He went to the Tapeta track and galloped a mile and a quarter. He's a cool dude to ride, and fits me quite well as I am a little tall. He feels good after his nice win last week. My second set was Nautical Agent. She did the same as Gator and also went nicely. She is a little on the slighter side, but really reaches her head low, so you need to ride her off a long reign. As I was galloping down the backside of the track Tim came "gliding" by me on Red Aspen, who was working 5/8ths. This is her final work before her next race which is planned for thursday of next week. She looked good! Coming home from the track I saw Xchanger, being led to the track by Mark Shuman. All is well in their camp, although they are still trying to engage a jockey. Final set was Grandma, and she went out back across the fields with Tim on Whip Smart. We had a nice easy jog around for two miles, they will both be breezing tomorrow.
Update 1876: Sean Clancy is doing a local book signing for his book: Barbaro: The Horse Who Captured America's Heart later today (4pm - 7pm) at the Beresford Gallery in Unionville PA. Sean will also be doing the same at Willowdale races on sunday.
After the Willowdale races a fundraising benefit is being hosted for Robbie Walsh, a steeplechase jockey who was badly injured (lots of broken bones, all recoverable) a few weeks ago. The event should be fun (band, food, beverage and silent auction), Tim and I plan to be there. Robbie is also a freelance exercise rider for Tim.
Off the triple crown news, last year's Horse of the Year had his first work since winning the Dubai World Cup: Invasor Turns in First Work Since World Cup. A nice easy half mile in 50 4/5ths on wednesday.