Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, the two-time Grade I winner and third-place finisher in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), will race next in the Belmont Stakes on June 9, the stable’s managing partner Jerry Crawford announced Friday.
“(Trainer) Dale Romans loves the way Dullahan came out of the Kentucky Derby and believes we could win the Preakness,” Crawford said. “But we believe we have a 3-year-old ‘Horse of the Year’ candidate and that his future is best served by not asking him to race for the third time in just five weeks in the Preakness.”
Dullahan galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break on Friday morning with regular exercise rider Faustino Aguilar up.
With Dullahan now pointed to New York, Romans still has one colt focused on Pimlico in the Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Cozzetti. With exercise rider Romero Cordache up, Cozzetti galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs.
Romans, who saddled Shackleford to win the 2011 Preakness, will be attempting to become the first trainer to take consecutive runnings of the Preakness since Bob Baffert won in 2001 with Point Given and 2002 with War Emblem.
Baffert’s three possible Preakness candidates had similar exercises here Friday morning at Churchill Downs with gallops of 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez.
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, conducted his business before the 8 o’clock renovation break with Zayat Stables and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, coming out first after the break and followed by Zayat Stables’ Paynter, the runner-up in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII).
A decision on the Preakness status of the three colts will be made when Baffert returns to Louisville this weekend. Baffert has won the Preakness five times.
Also turning in morning gallops beneath the Twin Spires were likely Preakness contender Optimizer, 11th in the Kentucky Derby, and possible Preakness participants Hierro, winner of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, and Isn’t He Clever, runner-up in the Sunland Derby (GIII). The latter two are trained by Steve Asmussen.
At the nearby Trackside Training Center, Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing’s 2011 juvenile champion Hansen, the ninth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.
According to Dr. Hansen, the Preakness remains a possibility for his colt.
“There are a lot of variables involved, but it will probably be a last-minute decision next Monday or Tuesday,” said Hansen, who has not seen his stable star since the morning after the Kentucky Derby. “(Trainer) Mike (Maker) wants to see how he is doing and look at who is going to be in the field and so forth.”
Dr. Hansen said the goal for the horse is to get another Eclipse Award this year.
“It is a tough call,” Hansen said of the Preakness. “We want him to be the 3-year-old champion, but to do that, he has to win one of the classics.
“The mile and three-sixteenths (of the Preakness) may be a little bit out of his best distance. I think he is best between seven and nine furlongs but he can go more than nine if he is calm and relaxed like he was in the Gotham (GIII).”
NECK ’N NECK TO MATT WINN OFF IMPRESSIVE ALLOWANCE VICTORY – A. Stevens Miles Jr.’s Neck ’n Neck rebounded from a fifth-place finish in the $1 million Florida Derby (GI) to take Thursday’s featured $54,335 allowance race by 6 ½ lengths under Leandro Goncalves and will be pointed to the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) off that impressive effort.
The 15th running of the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn is scheduled for the Stephen Foster undercard on the evening of Saturday, June 16 at Churchill Downs. The race was won last year by Peter Callahan’s Scotus.
Thursday’s allowance win was the first victory for Neck ’n Neck since breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs last November in his final start as a 2-year-old. He began is 2012 campaign with a runner-up finish to Discreet Dancer in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park and made his next three starts in graded-stakes company, finishing off-the-board in each.
"He came out of the race fine,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “We wanted to try to get him some confidence and it worked out well.
“He runs well here (at Churchill Downs) and trains well here, so the Matt Winn is the next logical step.”
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Neck ’n Neck is a dark bay son of Flower Alley, sire of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. The winner’s share of Thursday’s purse pushed Neck ’n Neck career earnings to $130,370 from nine starts.
CATALANO CONFIDENT IN HONEY CHILE IN SATURDAY’S UNBRIDLED SIDNEY – James Miller’s Honey Chile will be seeking her first victory of 2012 when she breaks from the outside in the field of 10 for Saturday’s $68,000 Unbridled Sidney.
The Unbridled Sidney will be contested at five furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Last spring, rain caused the race to be taken off the turf and it was won by Maggi Moss’ Little Polka Dot.
Honey Chile will enter the Unbridled Sidney off a runner-up effort in the Whimsical (GIII) at six furlongs on the Polytrack course at Woodbine. The 4-year-old daughter of Invisible Ink led most of the way, but was caught in deep stretch by Roxy Gap.
“She put in a big effort in her last race and she just missed,” trainer Wayne Catalano said via phone from his barn at Arlington Park. “I like this spot she’s in now. She fits well with these horses.”
Honey Chile is winless in two starts on turf, but Catalano doesn’t think she’ll have any problem with the surface Saturday.
“She ran a big race on the turf at Gulfstream (third in the Ladies Turf Sprint on March 4),” Catalano said. “In the (Alison McClay stakes) at Penn National, she didn’t run badly (finishing third), but the turf was a little soft and I don’t think she liked it. This race fit her well and she was at Churchill so we decided to put her back on the turf.”
Catalano is also not concerned with Honey Chile breaking from post 10.
“I would like to see a couple of scratches so she could move in a little, but if not she’ll be OK,” Catalano said. “She has enough speed that I don’t think the outside post will be a problem.”
The Unbridled Sidney is the feature race on Saturday’s 10-race program and is scheduled as race eight at 4:25 p.m. (ET).
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