IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Big Brown had his presence announced on the track shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday with a loud clap of thunder.
Unfazed, Big Brown went about his morning activity, jogging one mile with Michelle Nevin up accompanied by a pony.
Heavy overnight rain had left the Churchill Downs racing surface “muddy” and trainer Rick Dutrow, as he had done two days last week, opted to jog the Kentucky Derby winner rather than gallop him.
With his Kentucky Derby victory eight days ago, Big Brown put Nevin in some elite company in being the regular morning exercise rider of a classic winner.
“I first got on him when he came to Florida in November,” Nevin said. “Rick was telling me ‘you’re gonna love this horse’ and the first time I took him to the track he went out there like an old pro and nothing bothered him. After I galloped him, I thought ‘this is a classy horse.’”
TRES BORRACHOS GALLOPS IN BLINKERS – Less than two hours after Big Brown jogged under cloudy skies and on a muddy track, bright sunshine and a harrowed track that was drying out because of high winds greeted Tres Borrachos.
The third-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby (GII) galloped 1 ½ miles under Andy Durnin and was outfitted in blinkers for the first time.
Trainer Beau Greely, who owns Tres Borrachos in partnership with John Greely IV and Phil Houchens, explained the experiment.
“In his races, horses would come up to him and he’d back up a little and then come again,” Greely said. “I want to see what Andy thinks about them, but it looks like he was relaxed galloping today. He may have them on when he works Tuesday and then we’ll make a decision (about whether the blinkers will stay on for the Preakness).”
RECAPTURETHEGLORY IMPROVING, MAY LEAVE MONDAY – Assistant trainer Lara Van Deren said that fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Recapturetheglory was doing much better Sunday morning, a day after running a 102-degree temperature.
“Yesterday was real tough,” Van Deren said. “He will probably leave tomorrow for Chicago and miss three or four days of training.”
Owned by trainer Louie Roussel III and Ronald Lamarque, Recapturetheglory was on track to leave Churchill Downs on Saturday night for Baltimore and a start in the Preakness before the fever hit.
ROUTINE MORNING FOR PREAKNESS HOPEFULS AT CHURCHILL – The three remaining Preakness hopefuls training at Churchill Downs had uneventful mornings Sunday.
Robert LaPenta’s Stevil galloped 1 ½ miles under Dylan Armstrong for trainer Nick Zito. Stevil is scheduled to work four furlongs Monday morning.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again walked the shedrow at Barn 35 after working a half-mile in :50.80 the day before. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Macho Again will be ridden in the Preakness by Julien Leparoux, who rode Macho Again to victory in the April 26 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.
Macho Again will be attempting to give West Point a second major victory in as many weekends. On Saturday at Lone Star Park, El Gato Malo prevailed in the Lone Star Derby (GIII) for trainer Craig Dollase.
Also walking the shedrow was Jerry Carroll, Stan Kaplan, Ronald Plattner and Mark Guilfoyle’s Racecar Rhapsody. The Ken McPeek trainee had worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday.
LING LING QI, SILVER EDITION & ST. JOE TO MATT WINN – Convincing opening week sprint winners Ling Ling Qi and Silver Edition as well as third-place Iroquois (GIII) finisher St. Joe are considered as definite starters for Saturday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track.
Lansdon Robbins III’s Ling Ling Qi scored by 2 ¾ lengths as the 7-5 favorite on April 29 for trainer Ken McPeek. Silver Edition, owned by Thomas Van Meter II and Phillip Maloof, was a 4 ½-length winner as the 9-5 peoples’ choice on May 2 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Silver Edition, runner-up in the Grade II Hutcheson in January at Gulfstream Park, worked a bullet half-mile in :47.60 over a sloppy track Sunday morning.
Silverton Hill Farm’s St. Joe is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Coolmore Lexington (GII) at Keeneland on April 19. St. Joe is trained by Darrin Miller.
Nominations for the Matt Winn closed May 7 with 18 nominations. Entries will be taken Wednesday.
BARN TALK – There was a new exercise rider Sunday morning in the barn of Dallas Stewart: Hall of Fame nominee Randy Romero. “I just got here from New Orleans,” said Romero, who retired from riding in 1999. “I’ve been working out and swimming and I’ve lost 10 pounds.”
Romero, who had a kidney removed in February and continues to battle chronic liver disease, scored what likely was his most memorable victory at Churchill Downs when he guided undefeated Personal Ensign to the 13th victory of her career in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff over 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors and 1988 Kentucky Oaks champ Goodbye Halo.
Romero, who also has worked as a jockey agent, has been involved in another project.
“I’ve been working on a script for a movie on my life,” said Romero, who was seriously burned in a hotbox accident at Oaklawn Park in 1983. “It’s called ‘Cat On A Horse.’ Look for it in about a year and a half.”
For someone who apparently has more than nine lives, the title is appropriate.
WORK TAB – Uptown Racing’s Boss Lafitte, winner of the Central Bank Transylvania Stakes (GIII) on April 12 at Keeneland, worked a half-mile on a track labeled “sloppy” in :50.20 for trainer Tom Amoss. Lawrence Carroll’s Old Man Buck, winner of last summer’s Miller Lite Cradle Stakes at River Downs, worked a half-mile in “muddy” conditions in :48.80 for trainer Ken McPeek. The work was the third fastest of 28 at the distance.
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