TODAY'S TOP STORIES:
- DERBY WINNER BIG BROWN RETURNS TO THE TRACK
- PREAKNESS CONTENDER TRES BORRACHOS WORKS
- RACECAR RHAPSODY POSSIBLE FOR PREAKNESS
DERBY WINNER BIG BROWN RETURNS TO TRACK – With Michelle Nevin up, IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown jogged a mile alongside a pony Wednesday morning shortly before 7 o’clock at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Rick Dutrow, feeling much better after being under the weather since the weekend, liked what he saw and said Big Brown would gallop in the morning.
The two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness continues to be Dutrow’s biggest concern.
“Coming back in two weeks, he is stacked up against it,” Dutrow said. “He’s not a robot. He has run fast races and fast numbers and two weeks is not ideal timing. You need time to regroup, and we haven’t got that kind of time.”
One fast number that particularly intrigued Dutrow was Big Brown’s Kentucky Derby performance.
“I heard that he ran the fastest Ragozin Sheets number of a Kentucky Derby winner,” Dutrow said. “It was a minus-1.”
So, what does that portend for the Preakness?
“He’s got to react to it, but he is not going to need to run a minus-1 again,” Dutrow said. “He’s not going to need it. The other horses going into the race, their numbers don’t match up with his. They don’t even come close. So, I am figuring he can run a 5 and still win the race.”
The fact Big Brown has scared off practically all of his Derby rivals is fine with Dutrow.
“I hope there is no one over there that is going to run big,” Dutrow said. “I felt that half of them didn’t belong in the Derby anyway.
“We only have two weeks. There is nothing I can do. I just have to hope that he stays good. There is no serious training involved. There is not a whole lot that depends on me. He has come out of the race good, eaten every oat since he has run. I just have to decide if I am going to give him a little breeze or not before his next race.
“We leave on the 14th, which is three days out, which is beautiful with me. I like that. He would not breeze here. It would be very, very minor.”
TRES BORRACHOS TUNES UP FOR PREAKNESS – With Andy Durnin up and trainer Beau Greely looking on from the grandstand, third-place Arkansas Derby (Grade II) finisher Tres Borrachos worked five furlongs in :59.60 Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
The work, the second fastest of 30 at the distance in the morning over a fast track, was accomplished after the morning renovation break. Fractions for the work from Churchill Downs clockers were :12, :23.40, :35.20, :47.20 and out six furlongs in 1:14.
Greely, who owns the gelded son of Ecton Park in partnership with his brother John Greely IV and Phil Houchens, was happy with the work.
“It looked like he didn’t get out of a gallop,” Greely said. “I had him in 59 and two and out in 1:13. He went beautiful. I will breeze him next Tuesday, probably an easy half, and then ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.”
Tyler Baze, who rode Tres Borrachos in the Arkansas Derby, will retain the mount in the Preakness.
Wednesday’s work was the third at Churchill Downs for Tres Borrachos. His first work after arriving in Louisville on April 14 was a three-eighths move on April 22.
“I worked him three-eighths just in case he got in the (Kentucky) Derby,” Greely said. “Then it did not look like he would run which, after watching it, it turned out better that he didn’t.
“I watched the race in California. It was a tough run race. Other horses look like they kind of got bundled up and I was kind of glad I wasn’t in there. Then you had Big Brown, who was absolutely amazing. That horse looks like a superstar.”
Greely is eagerly looking forward to the Preakness challenge.
“I think the Preakness will probably suit this horse better than the Derby would have,” Greely said. “The turns are a little tighter and it looks like it carries speed, or it has in the past. Hopefully, it will suit him well and it gives him five weeks in between the Arkansas Derby and Preakness.”
Tres Borrachos would be Greely’s second Preakness starter. He saddled Borrego in the 2004 Preakness to a seventh-place finish after running 10th in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier.
“That was a hard race, the Derby that Borrego ran in,” Greely said. “Smarty Jones obviously turned into a phenomenal horse. When we ran that day, the track was washed out and it seemed to kind of suit a speedy type horse like him. We had run against him in the Arkansas Derby and run second, so we were just trying to throw the track out at that point and try the Preakness.
“At the end of the day, Borrego developed into a nice horse and won some major races for older horses, but it feels better going into the Preakness with a fresh horse.”
STEVIL RETURNS TO TRACK; VELAZQUEZ TO RIDE IN PREAKNESS – Robert LaPenta’s Stevil, fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) in his most recent start, galloped a mile Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs under Megan Smillie.
It was the first day back at the track for the Nick Zito trainee since working a half-mile in :48.60 on Monday.
John Velazquez, who made his Preakness riding debut last year when he piloted Circular Quay to a fifth-place finish, will have the mount on Stevil according to Zito.
“John has ridden for me a lot of times,” Zito said. “In fact, he worked Strike the Gold for me at Saratoga when he was a little 18-year-old apprentice.”
Stevil is scheduled to work again early next week and then ship to Baltimore on Tuesday.
RACECAR RHAPSODY ENTERS PREAKNESS PICTURE – Jerry Carroll, Stan Kaplan, Ronald Plattner and Mark Guilfoyle’s Racecar Rhapsody, fourth in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland on April 19 in his most recent start, is headed to the Preakness, according to trainer Ken McPeek.
“I have been talking it over with Mr. Carroll and we feel like he will like the added distance,” McPeek said. “Maybe we will just be running for second, but that’s not all bad.”
A Kentucky-bred son of Tale of the Cat out of the A.P. Indy mare Reflect the Music, Racecar Rhapsody has compiled a record of 6-1-1-1 with earnings of $148,391. Racecar Rhapsody opened 2008 with a fourth-place finish in the Lane’s End Stakes (Grade II) at Turfway Park on March 22.
Robby Albarado, who has ridden the colt in six of his starts, will have the mount as he shoots for his second consecutive Preakness victory. He piloted Curlin to victory in last year’s Preakness.
Racecar Rhapsody galloped Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs under Jose Castanon and McPeek said the colt would work sometime this weekend. Since the Coolmore Lexington, Racecar Rhapsody has worked once at Churchill Downs, a five-furlong move in 1:01 on May 2.
RECAPTURETHEGLORY RETURNS TO THE TRACK – With assistant trainer Lara Van Deren up, Louie Roussell III and Ronnie Lamarque’s fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Recapturetheglory jogged a mile and galloped a mile before the renovation break Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
“He went great this morning,” said Van Deren, who is playing the waiting game here as owners Ronnie Lamarque and Louie Roussel III decide on whether to go on to the Preakness.
“They wanted to see how he went this morning and Ronnie has already called me three times,” Van Deren said. “I know they are also considering the Ohio Derby (Grade II on May 31).”
NO DECISION ON MACHO AGAIN – “Hey,” yelled Dallas Stewart. “I heard on the radio that I am going to the Preakness.”
So, are you?
“I don’t know. We haven’t made a decision yet,” said Stewart, who trains Derby Trial winner Macho Again for West Point Thoroughbreds.
Macho Again galloped Wednesday morning.
WORK TAB – Oak Crest Farm’s Sutra, winner of the 2006 Frizette (GI), worked a half-mile in :48.80 for trainer Mike Stidham. The move was the fifth fastest of 31 at the distance. … Fred Bradley’s millionaire Brass Hat drilled five furlongs in 1:01.40 for trainer Buff Bradley. The move was the seventh fastest of 30 at the distance.