Barbaro Updates: 856
updates are now here.
Update 5016: John Asher's Churchill Down's notes on Rachel Alexandra:
CHURCHILL DOWNS BARN NOTE
Sunday, May 17, 2009
RACHEL ALEXANDRA BACK HOME AT CHURCHILL
WIGGINS PROUD OF RACHEL, HIS BARN STAFF
RACHEL ALEXANDRA BACK HOME AT CHURCHILL DOWNS - Stonestreet Stables and Herold McCormick's Preakness Stakes (Grade I) and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra returned to trainer Steve Asmussen's Barn 38 at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning following a flight from Baltimore.
Scott Blasi, Asmussen's chief assistant, accompanied the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro on the flight. Blasi led her off the van at 10:20 a.m. (all times EDT) and back to barn, where she was walked and bedded down in Stall 24.
"She traveled great," Blasi said. "She'll be left alone the rest of the day; that's what she wants. She'll definitely walk for three days so the earliest she'd go back to the track would be Wednesday. We'll just continue to evaluate her and keep our options open.
Rachel Alexandra, ridden again by Calvin Borel, defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird by a length in the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown.
"We're very pleased with how she ate last night and her attitude is good and she's physically in good shape. We're just very fortunate to be in this position. She's all class and all heart. All of the credit goes to her."
The Preakness marked Rachel Alexandra's first start for Asmussen, and the victory over males lifted her career record to 8-2-0 in 11 races with earnings of $1,618,354. The Preakness victory came just shy of a year after her career debut on May 22, 2008 at Churchill Downs, when she finished sixth in a field of nine 2-year-old fillies in the only poor effort of her career. She has now won six consecutive races, a string that started in late November with a 4 3/4-length romp in the Golden Rod (GII).
Rachel Alexandra became the second Kentucky Oaks winner in three years to defeat males in a Triple Crown race in her next start. Rags to Riches won the 2007 Oaks and returned to defeat the Asmussen-trained Preakness winner and eventual two-time "Horse of the Year" Curlin in the Belmont Stakes (GI).
Asmussen was due back in Louisville Sunday afternoon and was scheduled to saddle horses in Churchill Downs' Races 8 and 10. Meanwhile, winning jockey Calvin Borel had six mounts, starting with Race 4.
WIGGINS WATCHES PREAKNESS AT CHURCHILL, BEAMS OVER RACHEL AND STAFF - She had been out of his barn for just over a week, so it was clearly a bittersweet experience for veteran trainer Hal Wiggins as he watched Rachel Alexandra, his horse of a lifetime, become the first filly in 84 years to win Saturday's Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Wiggins had just saddled Lucky Trio Stable's Betty Bye to finish fourth in the 11th race at Churchill Downs - a race won by the Steve Asmussen-trained Girls Do Rule, which should have been the "Omen of the Day." Then Wiggins settled into the Horseman's Service Center adjacent to the paddock to watch Rachel Alexandra's bid for history.
"When the gates opened, I was pulling for her," Wiggins said. "Down the backstretch I was expecting her to be behind a horse or two, but she just bounded out of there. Where she was, I just thought she was in perfect position.
"I'm just really, really proud of her and Calvin. Racing is real fortunate to have him out there like that. There's nothing phony about him - it's all genuine. People see that and they realize that, and I'm just tickled for him. I'll tell you, if anyone deserves it he does."
Wiggins was also impressed by Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who closed strongly to lose by only a length to Rachel Alexandra.
"I'll tell you what, I was really proud of that Derby horse," Wiggins said. "Some of those guys were saying he might be a one-race wonder and that the wet track (on Derby Day) might have had something to do with it, but he showed he was legitimate. He really did."
Rachel Alexandra's new trainer, Steve Asmussen, has praised Wiggins' work in the development of Rachel Alexandra, whose final race for Wiggins was her record-smashing 20 1/4-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1. Asmussen did so again on NBC Sports' national telecast of the Preakness on Saturday.
"I appreciate that," Wiggins said. "It's a tribute to the crew here at the barn. I appreciate that, I really do."
Update 5015: Great win for Hooh Why!
Update 5014: Mike Gathagan's Sunday Preakness report:
RACHEL ALEXANDRA GETS RAVE REVIEWS SUNDAY A.M.; MINE THAT BIRD ON COURSE FOR THE BELMONT STAKES
RACHEL ALEXANDRA - At 6 a.m. Sunday, just under 12 hours after her impressive victory in the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra left Pimlico for the return trip to trainer Steve Asmussen's barn at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Asmussen said the filly owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold T. McCormick, would go back to the track on Wednesday and would probably have her first post-Preakness work on Monday, May 25. Since Jackson and McCormick purchased the filly about 10 days before the Preakness, Asmussen and his staff are still getting to know her. She had one workout between the purchase and the race, where she became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. "This time, we have something to measure it to, as far as how she feels and how she's acting," Asmussen said. "It's our first comparison, so to speak. We're not going to tell her how she's feeling. She'll tell us how she's feeling." Asmussen did not rule out the filly running in the Belmont Stakes, but he didn't commit to it either. He said he will relay information about how Rachel Alexandra recovers from the race and performs in the breeze to Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke. "I personally think she's proven what he set out to prove with her immediately, which doesn't eliminate anything," Asmussen said. "But I think it does take a tad of the urgency off it." Asmussen smiled at a question about the need to win two-thirds of the Triple Crown with a filly. "The reason she ran in the Preakness is because she was doing extremely well," he said. "If you're doing extremely well, what are you waiting for? I think if they're doing well, you ought to run them. We're just going to pet on her and tell her how great she is for a little while and see where that leads her." With her front-running victory, Rachel Alexandra validated the decision to run her against males just over two weeks after she crushed the field in the Kentucky Oaks. It was Asmussen's second win the Preakness in three years. Curlin gave Asmussen his first classic in 2007, rallying to regain the lead from Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. "I've spent a lifetime trying to get into this position," Asmussen said. "The overwhelming feeling is pride."
MINE THAT BIRD - Trainer Chip Woolley reported that his Kentucky Derby winner was feeling fine on the morning after his runner-up finish in Saturday's Preakness Stakes. Mine That Bird failed to duplicate his last-to-first Derby performance Saturday, but his last-to-dangerously close-second-place finish behind Rachel Alexandra at Pimlico was still mighty impressive.
"Nobody can question his ability. Like I said: in the Derby, he passed 18 horses in a quarter of a mile - 18 of the best horses around in a quarter of a mile. There's no fluke in that," Woolley said. "He did the same thing (Saturday). He made a huge move and ran hard. We just didn't get there."
Mine That Bird dropped back to last again Saturday before picking up the chase on the far turn. Yet, unlike the circumstances in his rail-hugging Derby run under Calvin Borel, the little gelding's new rider, Mike Smith, was forced to swing wide to circle a wall of horses in front of him on the turn into the homestretch. Mine That Bird made a strong wide run through the stretch, cutting Rachel Alexandra's lead from four lengths to one at the finish of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
"Any time you have a horse that lays last in a 13-horse field, you've got a big chance of having traffic trouble. This track, the way it was set up, I was really concerned about getting a good trip around there. Sure enough, the horses stacked up on the turn and hurt us," Woolley said. "We couldn't get one smooth run through there and we had to check a few times and were in tight. Mike did a great job riding the horse. I'm thrilled to death. I couldn't ask more from the rider. Things didn't quite set up like you'd like. That’s horse racing."
Woolley plans to van his gelding back to Churchill Downs on Monday to prepare him for a start in the Belmont Stakes on June 6.
"My horse will be much more suited to the Belmont - big wide track, big wide sweeping turns. It should play a little better to my horse. It'll probably be a shorter field, which eliminates some of the traffic," the New Mexico-based trainer said. "We're excited about going. As long as he's good the next couple days, like he looks this morning, that'll be the plan."
Woolley revealed that Smith will have the mount aboard Mine That Bird in the Belmont, even if Rachel Alexandra bypasses the third leg of the Triple Crown, leaving Borel free.
"Like I kept telling people, the key to him was getting him back. He'd never been taken back and sat on like that before, and that's what I'd been trying to make happen," Woolley said. "I, finally, in Calvin, found a guy who would lay him back there and do it like I wanted to do. Then, of course, Mike followed suit very well (Saturday) and did a super job for us."
Woolley credited Smith, a fellow New Mexican, for giving Mine That Bird a heads-up ride, especially during a traffic build-up on the final turn.
"If Mike stays on the fence any longer than we did, we'd have ended up in real trouble," he said. "They were just stacked up on us, and if we'd have stayed on the fence, we sure would have been in trouble."
Woolley continues to have great admiration for his hard-trying gelding.
"You've got to be super proud of him. The horse runs through his bridle," he said. Everything you ask of this horse, he just does it, lays it on the line."
The emergence of Mine That Bird as a star on the Triple Crown trail has been a rewarding experience for his trainer.
"You spend a lifetime working to get here. It's kind of a stamp on your career when you win that first one. Then, you come back and re-stamp that same stamp on the next on," Woolley said. "There's no doubt we got him where we wanted him."
Mine That Bird, a 50-1 Derby long shot who was sent to post Saturday as the 6-1 third betting choice, is expected to have a presence in the East this year.
"Hopefully, we'll run well in the Belmont. Then, we'll probably spot him again here somewhere. It's such a long, hard trip from where we are that we'll keep him out here," Woolley said. "As long as we've got spots were aiming at, we'll stay in this vicinity, somewhere within a decent hauling distance."
In the short term, Woolley will concentrate on getting Mine That Bird ready for the Belmont Stakes and a possible rematch with Rachel Alexandra.
"I'm not sure what their plans are, but if she comes, I guess we'll see her," said Woolley, perhaps not as much in awe of the filly as the other trainers of Preakness starters. "It would make for a great horse race."
BIG DRAMA - Owner/breeder Harold Queen dropped in on Big Drama Sunday morning at the Preakness Stakes Barn, reporting that his fifth-place Preakness finisher was doing well, except for "a couple of nicks."
Big Drama, who bobbled at the start after being fractious in the gate, prompted the early pace from the inside while lapped on by pacesetter Rachel Alexandra.
"If he doesn't stumble out of the gate, we'd probably have been second." Queen said. "He stumbled out of the gate, and it was all over for us. We'd never be able to catch that filly. What an amazing filly she is. Unbelievable. They could have gone around there again and they weren't catching that filly. Our colt wasn't handling the track, but neither was she. That filly wasn't handling the track. She strided out so much better at Churchill Downs."
David Fawkes will ship Big Drama to Monmouth Park, where the Calder-based trainer has a division of horses. He ruled out a start in the Belmont Stakes. The ultimate goal for the son of Montbrook is the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita Park.
FLYING PRIVATE/LUV GOV - Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday morning that the fourth-place Preakness finisher Flying Private may go on to the Belmont Stakes June 6 at Belmont Park. He wasn't sure where Luv Gov, who finished eighth Saturday, would run next.
"Flying Private was going around here playing and raising hell," Lukas said. "He really was full of himself. He's as sharp as a tack."
Lukas said that he brought Flying Private to Baltimore even though the colt finished last in the Kentucky Derby because Derby also-rans sometimes return to form in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Flying Private did perform much better at Pimlico, finishing four lengths behind Rachel Alexandra and earning $66,000 for owners William Mack and Robert Baker.
Flying Private and Luv Gov are scheduled to be shipped back to Churchill Downs on Monday morning.
In the days leading up to the Preakness, Lukas said he was impressed with Rachel Alexandra and predicted that she would run well.
"She is extraordinary," Lukas said Sunday. "That was a nice effort. She did everything I thought she'd do. I watched her all winter. That didn't surprise me a bit."
FRIESAN FIRE - Trainer Larry Jones, as gracious in defeat as he is in victory, said Sunday that he couldn't explain why the colt dropped out of contention coming off the second turn and finished 10th in the Preakness.
"Everything we ran looks good and Friesan Fire looks just fine," Jones said. "No major complaints. We ended up scoping him later Saturday and there was nothing. We don't see any excuses that he could have this time other than the fact that he didn't come down the lane as fast as he should have. He was sitting in a good spot at that point. Actually, I loved the way he was sitting early in the race. I can't blame it on anything. The pace was apparently what it should be because the horse that we were following won the race. I wish I could come up with a real good excuse, saying I know how to keep that from happening next time, but there are no reasons that we can see right now."
Friesan Fire was shipped back to Jones' barn at Delaware Park Sunday morning.
"We'll sit down and regroup and see what's next," Jones said. "I'm sure we're not headed for the Belmont, but we'll see what happens. We'll find him a spot he'll fit in."
Jones said he expected the A.P. Indy colt would be back in action within a month. Friesan Fire won the Louisiana Derby on a muddy track and ended up as the 7-2 betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby, which was run over a sloppy sealed track. He finished next to last and came out of the race with cuts on his legs. He healed quickly, though, and turned in a sharp work for the Preakness.
"It's quite a humbling experience working with these things," Jones said. "It's not that we had a horrible day racing yesterday. We ran five horses across the country yesterday. We won two of them. So we won 40 percent of our races, but we still go home feeling like we've had a bad day. That's what it boils down to."
Jones was a believer in Rachel Alexandra long before she wowed the nation with her stunning performance in the Preakness.
"What a magnificent filly she is," he said. "I've run against her three times and I see that same thing all the time. I keep looking for tail lights to come on and they don't ever come on. She just keeps on rolling. We've chased her three different times and I think the closest I've come to her is 11 1/2 lengths. And I've taken the best ones I've had and run at her. She's special."
GENERAL QUARTERS - Trainer Tom McCarthy walked the son of Sky Mesa in the shed row Sunday morning just before 8 a.m. and said he would return to Churchill Downs Monday with his one-horse stable.
"He came out of it real well, but somebody went down the side of his (left front) leg," said the 75-year-old retired high school principal, whose colt finished ninth. "It didn't go deep; it just took the hair off. We got hit on the other side also, and that was just a little deeper. I think it happened when he hit the top of the stretch."
The son of Sky Mesa appeared to be making a threatening rally and was sixth heading into the stretch.
"Just as he started making his move right where we wanted him to at the quarter-pole, he got hit," McCarthy said. "I'll be damned, that's the second time he got hit in a stake (Tampa Bay Derby). I think it took the breath out of him."
McCarthy said he'll give General Quarters some time off (this was his 13th career start), then may look to either the Ohio Derby or the Indiana Derby for his next start.
"I'm going to look for something that will be a little easier," he said. "We've been going against the best horses in America. I just want to back off a little bit and let him regroup and get a confidence builder."
MUSKET MAN - The son of Yonaguska extended his streak of in-the-money finishes to 8-for-8 by running third in the Preakness, but that's the end of the Triple Crown trail for the Derek Ryan-trained colt.
"He came out of the race good, no problem," said Ryan, who stayed around for the sale at nearby Timonium on Sunday. Musket Man vanned back to his base at Monmouth Park Saturday night.
"No Belmont, definitely," Ryan said. "He's going home and we're going to freshen him up and get him ready for the Haskell (Sunday, Aug. 2, Monmouth)."
Musket Man ran third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, finishing only 1 1/2 lengths behind Rachel Alexandra in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. He is now 5-for-8 lifetime with three thirds, earning $893,600 for owners Eric Fein and Vic Carlson.
PAPA CLEM - Trainer Gary Stute and his sixth-place finisher were headed back to California Sunday morning after competing in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and the son of Smart Strike will get some time off from a campaign that has been going virtually since November.
"He came out of the race fine," said Stute, who was attempting to match the feat accomplished by his father Mel in 1986, when he won with his first Preakness starter (Snow Chief). "He needs a little rest right now. We don't have anything specific in mind for him; we'll just kind of play it by ear."
Papa Clem was a close-up fourth approaching the three-sixteenths pole, but didn't threaten in the late running. Still, Stute said his entire Preakness experience was an enjoyable one.
The elder Stute was at the track Saturday to see if Papa Clem would become the second Preakness winner for the family.
"He didn't say much after the race," Gary said. "He seemed to be more interested in (betting) the 13th race."
PIONEEROF THE NILE - Ahmed Zayat's homebred colt left Pimlico early Sunday morning for a flight that would take him back to trainer Bob Baffert's stable at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Pioneerof the Nile, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, ended up 11th in the Preakness.
TAKE THE POINTS - Starlight Partners' colt trained by Todd Pletcher was shipped back to Belmont Park Sunday morning. He came out of the race in good shape. Wearing blinkers for the first time, Take the Points was sitting a stalking trip about five lengths behind Rachel Alexandra for the first half of the race. He was caught six wide on the second turn, was eased in the stretch by jockey Edgar Prado and finished last in the field of 13.
TERRAIN – Trainer Al Stall Jr. reported that Terrain "cooled out well" after his seventh-place finish in the Preakness Stakes. Terrain, who was shipped back to his Churchill Downs base early Sunday morning, ran into traffic on the turn into the homestretch.
"He ran into a wall of horses and lost his momentum," said Stall, who confirmed that Terrain will not run in the Belmont Stakes. "It looked to me that the track was a little deep, and he didn't pick it up again."
Although disappointed in Terrain's finish, Stall was impressed with Rachel Alexandra.
"I think she was as advertised. Besides showing her talent, she showed some grit. It looked like she was struggling a little bit," he said.
TONE IT DOWN - Trainer Bill Komlo, a Maryland backstretch fixture for years, will look for more competitive spots for Deborah and Michael Horning's son of Medaglia d'Oro after finishing 12th in the Preakness.
"He seems to be recuperating fine," said the 73-year-old conditioner, who trains Tone It Down for his daughter and son-in-law. "He doesn't look too much worse for the wear. We'll walk him three or four days and give him a chance to get back to himself. We're going to give him a little vacation and then look for some races where we can rekindle his mind, so he can get back out there and make some money for us. We knew going in that we were either going to be happy or sad because of the competition in there."
It was an otherwise enjoyable Saturday for Komlo, who got a visit from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and finished in the money in three races on the undercard.
"He stopped by," Komlo said. "He knew the Horning family because he was from that area and went to Georgetown Prep. He stayed quite a while with us."
Update 5013: My latest entry for The Rail: Horsemen's Opinions Divided.
Off to the races!
Update 5012: Five sets for Steve at Woodbine this morning. And it was chilly. Long johns were needed! All mine galloped nicely.
After I was done I rode Hooh Why, who shipped in to run in the Woodbine Oaks this afternoon. She seemed in good spirits. Since I last rode her she has been to Florida, California, Kentucky and Illinois and is now a Grade 1 Stakes winner! Lets hope she runs well this afternoon.
Opinions were devided this morning over the outcome of the Preakness Stakes. Many were impressed with Rachel Alexandra's win and as many thought that Mine That Bird was unlucky and with a little more ground could have won. Some thought that the race was over once Calvin Borel determined who he was going to ride. Others thought Chantal Sutherland would have done at least as well on Mine That Bird as Mike Smith did. Lots of chatter. The univeral opinion was, though, that the Preakness was an awesome horse race and that Mine That Bird's win in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke.
The question now is if we will see both these stars back for the Belmont. Now that would be a terrific match up.
Update 5011: Thanks Wendy for the terrific job of bringing the Preakness to life for everyone here!
Update 5010: There is a big party in the parking lot outside the stakes barn. Everyone is very happy!
I just saw rachel alexandra, mine that bird and musket man. They were all munching on hay and looked good. I even snagged a musket man hat.
Thanks for letting me blog from pimlico. I'm off to celebrate with my friends!
Update 5009: Rachel Alexandra is back in her stall in good order. The flowers are hanging on the rail of the shedrow.
I ran into Dom, his Uncle and brother. Dom said today was the greatest day of his life. He's floating around on cloud nine. It's so cool!
Update 5008: Here are some photos I've quickly put up. There will definitely be more in the coming days! Preakness race photos.
Update 5007: That was the perfect finish! What a race! What a horse! After the race Rachel Alexandra was paraded in front of the clubhouse and grandstand crowds. Everyone cheered loudly for her. Calvin was responding to everyone cheering his name. I still have chills. Just so exciting. I'm busy pinching myself to make sure I really did get to be here in person. What a privilege to see it.
Update 5005: 6:08 and everyone looks good. The crowd cheering after the call to post got a few of the horses wound up! It was loud!
Update 5004: 5:28pm I heard 15minutes till we start the walk. The skies look ominous. Let's hope it holds off.
Update 5003: 5:23pm. The ponies have come back to the stakes barn for the walk over. This is a production!
Update 5002: 5:15pm everyone is preparing for the walk over. It's getting close to what we've been waiting for!
Update 5001: 4:57pm NBC is hanging around the stakes barn now and the trainers are near their horses. Nobody is napping now!
Update 5000: At around 4:15pm Larry Jones was napping in a folding chair in the shedrow near Friesan Fire's stall. Cindy Jones was napping in the office. Dom Terry walked by with the exercise rider for Pioneerof The Nile who turned to me and said "See! No matter what happens today we will still be friends!" Great stuff!
Friesan Fire was brought out of his stall for a bath. According to Brad Hennegan (who was sitting with me), giving the horse a bath a couple hours before the race is Larry's regular raceday routine.
Update 4998: 3:15pm The sun has come out! I went back to the Stakes Barn to grab an apple from the hospitality area. On the way over I saw Musket Man hanging his head out taking in the sites.
In the hospitality tent, I saw Steve Haskins talking racing with Jeannine Edwards while they watch the races on tv. The hospitality tent has a BEAUTIFUL cake which will be served to the winning connections of The Preakness. Of course I took a photo of it and it will be up later tonight.
It seems that everyone is just doing their thing waiting for the race.
Update 4997: 2:30pm. The Navy parachute team gave a cool show. They dropped out of the clouds and landed at the finish line of the turf course. My friends have reported that the infield concerts were awesome!
Time for the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes!!
Update 4996: I just saw Chip Woolley in the Grandstand watching the monitors. Everyone is wishing him well today. William Komlo was also there grabbing a bite to eat.
I saw Dominic Terry just after he was interviewed by HRTV. He seemed nervous in a good way. He told his brother who flew in from Florida, that he can't talk to him 49 minutes before the race. We laughed and he ran back to be with his family.
I also met another Dakota. He's a cool paint that his rider simply uses a rope in mouth instead of a bit and bridle. He has one blue eye, loves the camera and is a huge begger for treats. He's a cool outrider pony!
Update 4995: 11:57am. I noticed the trainer for musket man brought a grill and lawn chairs to hang out in while they wait. Both musket man and general quarters were relaxing and munching hay. Rachel Alexandra was playing with the chain across her stall door. Her neighbor, Dakota, was just hanging out too. Mike Smith walked by after his interview with Jeannine Edwards.
Now I'm going to head to the track. I can hear a band playing. Pretty cool!
Update 4994: 11:20am I went out to the stakes barn to check things out. Mine That Bird is munching on hay while his neighbor Papa Clem is flat out snoozing hard. I'm envious of Papa Clem.
The wind has picked up and it is spritzing rain just a little. The infield didn't look too crowded. Maybe the weather has changed peoples mind about hanging in the infield.
Update 4993: The weather at Pimlico is HUMID! It's already 70 and if the sun comes out it will be a cooker out here. So far it's only been overcast and the forecast is for storms tonight. Let's hope they are right!
I have posted photos from this morning around the shedrow on Preakness day. You have to see Chip Woolley's belt buckle!
Update 4992: My latest for The Rail: An Exercise Rider's View.
Update 4991: 9:23am Mine That Bird went back to his stall just before 9 because the gnats were getting bad. The shedrow is getting quiet as we prepare for the day of racing. I asked William Komlo, trainer for Tone It Down, if he was nervous and all I got was a laugh. Now I'm heading over to upload photos. I'll have them up soon but in the meantime, I added more photos from yesterday afternoon.
Update 4990: 8:40am Things are settling down. Mine That Bird is enjoying a pick of grass and Chip is still near him. I noticed his very cool belt buckle and asked if I could take a picture of it. Everyone laughed as he jokingly said "watch where you aim that lens!" Everyone of Mine That Bird's connections seem happy to be here. I asked one of them if he was nervous and he said "yes ma'am, in a good way."
Update 4989: 8:15am: Mine That Bird came out for his bath just before 8. Now he's heading to the shedrow to walk. Chip Woolley quietly stood by. Baffert and Lukas have been hanging out most of the morning chatting it up about the antics they've heard about the infield. Gary Stute seems to always have a cup of coffee in his hands. I just passed by Steve Asmussen heading over for coffee too. While everyone is smiling and getting their work done you can tell they are feeling the pressure of the big race.
Update 4988: Chip Woolley arrived a little bit ago. The local media is interviewing him. Tone It Down arrived around 7:15. I just said hi to Brad Hennegan who is following Larry Jones. Larry is bathing payton d'Oro right now - the winner of The Black-Eyed Susan! It's 7:40 and it is hopping around here!
Update 4987: Rachel Alexandra just finished walking the shedrow with her tongue hanging out the whole time. That seems to be a habit of hers. Pioneerof the Nile was showing occasional disco moves during his bath. Take The Points just arrived and is currently getting a bath. All looks well!
Update 4986: wendyinmi here at Pimlico. Musket Man arrived at 5:40 and looks good walking the shedrow. He is in the stall next to General Quarters. Rachel Alexandra is about to walk the shedrow and be bathed. The Lucas horses were going to the track for a jog. All looks good on the backside.
Update 4985: The middle leg of the Triple Crown includes the Derby winner, Mine That Bird, the Oaks winner, Rachel Alexandra, the three horses who finished closest to the Derby winner, and the Derby favorite. It looks to be a terrific race. Here are some media previews:
I will be on air at 10:45 am to discuss the Preakness: Cyril Quinn: Sports Talk and Pop Culture.