BIG BROWN FINALLY GALLOPS ON DAY BEFORE DEPARTURE – IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Big Brown, a comfortable 4 ¾-length winner of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on May 3, took advantage of a perfect spring morning and dry track on Tuesday to eagerly gallop 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.
Trainer Rick Dutrow had chosen to jog the 3-year-old son of Boundary over a recent series of wet or sealed tracks and the colt’s gallop was just his second since his authoritative Kentucky Derby victory. Big Brown will have one more trip over the Churchill Downs track on Wednesday before he boards a plane that afternoon for the flight to Baltimore and a run in Saturday’s $1 million Preakness (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown which will be run at Pimlico Race Course.
“I’m happy with what I see,” said Dutrow. “I don’t know that I’d be looking for much more than what I see. I’m completely satisfied with everything. The horse has eaten everything since he’s run, he’s been aggressive when he goes to the track – he can’t wait to get there. He bounces off the track when he comes off. This is only the second time we were able to gallop him since the race, but both times it just couldn’t have went better. I just really see a really good picture here – he’s doing really good.”
The Kentucky Derby winner went to the track after the morning break for track maintenance. He stood calmly midway around the first turn for several minutes before Nevin spotted a gap in traffic on the busy track and took Big Brown into his gallop. The colt was very eager on his full turn around the track as he threw his head around playfully and clearly wanted to do more than Nevin’s restraint would allow.
“I rather gallop him than jog him,” said Dutrow. “He’s a lot happier when he gallops, but it’s not a big deal to jog him – especially since he’s got to run back in two weeks. That’s not going to take too much out of him. We’re just kind of playing it safe and cautious and don’t want him to do too much. He’s still got two big races he’s looking at and they’re all cramped in so close together that we don’t want to take too much out of him in his training. We want to watch that.”
A victory in Saturday’s Preakness at a mile and three sixteenths would give Big Brown the opportunity to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner – and the first since Affirmed in 1978 – with a victory in the mile and a half Belmont Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park on June 7.
Dutrow said he remains “on target” to give Big Brown a short “blowout” work – perhaps a quarter-mile – at Pimlico on the morning of the race.
“I really like that idea,” he said. “It just seems to work sometimes, and especially in this scenario I really like it because I don’t like breezing my horses until I wait two weeks after they run and this is two weeks exactly. So I’ll just blow him out a little bit the morning that he’s in. That seems to have horses more on their toes for that afternoon, plus it tells them that they’re going to be running later on that day. Sometimes it might be an edge to where they break good – just to sharpen him up a little bit, you know? Not saying that he needs it, but I’m just going to go ahead and try it. I don’t see it being a bad move.”
Big Brown is scheduled to leave Churchill Downs at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday for the short van ride to Louisville International Airport, where he will board his flight to Baltimore. Dutrow plans to ride on the van and the plane with his colt.
Regarding Saturday’s Preakness and its still-developing cast of opponents, Dutrow continues to believe that he trains the best horse in the race. He expects jockey Kent Desormeaux to ride Big Brown with as much confidence as in the Kentucky Derby, but Dutrow will insist that his jockey be wary of making the colt do any more than is necessary. And Dutrow is hoping for another outside post draw after winning the Kentucky Derby from post 20, becoming just the second horse in the 134-year history of the race to do so, and from the outside gate in a field of 12 in the Florida Derby (GI).
“If we draw the outside, it would make me very happy, but we don’t have a choice, so we’re going to take what comes,” he said. “I’m pretty confident things are going to be okay with him come Saturday.”
TYLER BAZE WORKS TRES BORRACOS FOR PREAKNESS – Beau Greely, John Greely IV and Phil Houchens’ Tres Borrachos worked a half-mile after the morning renovation break in :50.40 over a “fast” track under jockey Tyler Baze.
The move rated as the 43rd best of the morning out of 61 at the distance. Trainer Beau Greely got Tres Borrachos in :49.98 while watching the work from the grandstand.
Baze, who rode Tres Borrachos for the first time in the April 12 Arkansas Derby (GII), flew to Louisville on Monday afternoon and returned immediately after the work to Los Angeles where is the leading rider at the Hollywood Park meeting. He plans to catch a redeye to Baltimore Friday night for Saturday’s Preakness.
Baze, who will be riding in his first Preakness, was happy with the work, the fourth at Churchill Downs for Tres Borrachos since arriving in Louisville April 14 after the Arkansas Derby.
“It was so beautiful, it was ridiculous. He went in 49 and change; 13 (seconds), 13, 12 and 11,” Baze said. “He did it the right way and finished well. He is so impressive, the way he worked today, to go over a dirt track like that and not be blowing.”
Greely also was happy with the move.
“That’s what I wanted; 26 and 23,” Greely said. “We are good to go.”
Baze watched Big Brown’s Kentucky Derby victory from Hollywood Park.
“My impression is he’s a good horse, but a horse can’t have his day every day,” Baze said. “I am hoping Saturday is my day. I know this is a good horse, now that I have ridden him in Arkansas and I know him, I am really looking forward to it.”
STEVIL TURNS IN FINAL PREP FOR PREAKNESS – Robert LaPenta’s Stevil, fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 12 in his most recent start, worked a half-mile in company with 3-year-old stablemate Da’ Tara in :47.80 after the renovation break Tuesday morning over a “fast” track.
Megan Smillie was aboard Stevil for trainer Nick Zito.
“He went nice and easy,” said Zito, who had postponed the work from Monday because of muddy track conditions. “I’m happy with it. We are ready. He has been running good all winter. Hopefully, he will put in another good effort and we will see what happens.”
John Velazquez has the Preakness mount on Stevil.
ALBARADO EYES PREAKNESS REPEAT – In the 2007 Preakness, Robby Albarado derailed the Triple Crown aspirations of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense by rallying Curlin to a head victory. On Saturday, Albarado has the mount on Racecar Rhapsody, who will try to hand Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown his first defeat.
“He leaves himself a lot of work to do and hopefully he will give himself a chance early in the race,” said Albarado, who has ridden Racecar Rhapsody in all six of his starts for trainer Ken McPeek. “It seems like he will be able to handle the tighter turns at Pimlico. He will be coming late.
“Hopefully, we will get some pace up front to run at, but at the same time, I don’t want to be too far out at the back that I can’t get to them.”
Racecar Rhapsody galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Jose Castanon up Tuesday morning. The colt is scheduled to leave for Pimlico on Wednesday afternoon.
Albarado finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby on Z Fortune behind Big Brown and he is looking forward to taking another shot at the Derby winner.
“You like to have a target for somebody to aim at,” Albarado said. “It’s the same as with Street Sense last year. He was the target after winning the Derby and we got lucky and caught him. Hopefully, we can do the same this year.”
Albarado will be riding at Pimlico on Friday and Saturday. He will ride Briarwood Stable’s Highest Class for trainer Neil Howard in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII).
MACHO AGAIN SLATES EARLY WEDNESDAY DEPARTURE – West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again galloped a mile and a half under Kenny Bourque on Tuesday morning, hitting the track just before 6:30.
“He is training so good right now,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He was nice and smooth this morning.”
Stewart plans to have Macho Again out in the first set Wednesday when the track opens at 6 a.m. After Macho Again gallops and cools out, Stewart intends to put the winner of the April 26 Derby Trial on a van to Lexington to catch a 10 a.m. flight to Baltimore rather than wait for the 3:30 p.m. flight that will bring Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and other Preakness starters to Pimlico.
Julien Leparoux, currently the leading rider at Churchill Downs with 19 victories through the first 12 days of the 52-day meet, will make his Preakness debut Saturday on Macho Again.
BARN TALK – Trainer David Carroll appears to have a nice three-year-old filly in Acoma, an impressive allowance winner here Sunday in the slop.
“She had a lot of trouble in the race,” Carroll said of the mile and a sixteenth event in which Acoma lost position on the far turn and was shuffled back to fifth in the field of six. “It wasn’t until Julien (Leparoux) got her outside that she finally relaxed.”
A daughter of 2003 Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Empire Maker out of the Danzig mare Aurora, Acoma has won two of three starts for owners Helen Alexander and Helen Groves.
“I am going to talk it over with the owners,” Carroll said about what’s next for Acoma. “The Dogwood (a $100,000 stake here on May 31), maybe, but that’s a one-turn mile and there are better races down the road.”
WORK TAB – Working a bullet three-eighths Tuesday morning was Arthur Hancock III’s Wanderin Boy. Winner of the 2007 Alysheba (GIII), Wanderin Boy covered the distance in :36 flat, best of 30 at the distance for trainer Nick Zito. … Chrysalis Stables’ Silverfoot, a three-time winner of the Louisville Handicap (GIII), worked six furlongs on the turf in 1:13.80 for trainer Dallas Stewart.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Julien Leparoux 92 19-13-16
Miguel Mena 71 13-9-16
Robby Albarado 61 12-6-7
Shaun Bridgmohan 55 11-8-4
Jesus Castanon 57 10-5-3
Calvin Borel 87 9-12-15
Kent Desormeaux 31 5-8-6
Jamie Theriot 51 5-4-5
Larry Sterling, Jr. 26 5-3-5
Edgar Prado 17 3-5-3
John Velazquez 15 3-3-0
Rafael Bejarano 12 3-0-2
Tom Amoss 20 8-3-4
Ken McPeek 17 7-2-1
Steve Asmussen 28 6-4-2
Eddie Kenneally 22 5-5-5
Ian Wilkes 15 5-3-2
Greg Foley 22 5-3-1
Mike Maker 16 5-2-1
Ronny Werner 14 3-4-3
Bill Mott 19 3-3-3
Nick Zito 12 3-2-1
John Fahey III 7 3-1-2
Bobby Frankel 10 3-1-1
Mark Casse 8 3-0-0
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 18 6-2-2
Maggi Moss 7 5-0-2
Zayat Stables, LLC 18 3-4-2
Padua Stables 3 3-0-0
Six owners tied with two (2) wins