ROMANS DUO COMPLETES CHURCHILL PREPARATIONS FOR PREAKNESS – Routine gallops were the order of the day on Tuesday for a pair of Preakness contenders trained by Louisville native Dale Romans, who is looking forward to saddling his double-barreled bid for a first victory in a Triple Crown classic.
Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, third to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), will be joined in the starting gate on Saturday by stablemate First Dude, Donald Dizney’s third-place finisher behind Stately Victor and Paddy O’Prado in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland on April 10.
Paddy O’ Prado will enter the Preakness without a work between the Kentucky Derby and Saturday’s race in Baltimore. Beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky, sixth in the ruggedly-run race, also heads to Pimlico Race Course without a work between races.
“He didn’t need to work,” Romans said of his gray colt. “If’s he not fit now, a half-mile work is not going to do him much good.”
Romans was relieved that First Dude finally seemed assured of a spot in the starting gate in Saturday’s Preakness. Earlier in the week, it appeared that the 1 3/16-mile second jewel of the Triple Crown could attract an overflow field and Romans’ imposing bay son of Stephen Got Even could be left on the outside looking in.
“I wanted to run him in the Derby,” said Romans. “I think he’ll run good.”
The trainer’s confidence in First Dude was boosted on Sunday when the Nick Zito-trained Fly Down, who has handed First Dude a pair of narrow defeats at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park, scored a runaway victory in Sunday’s Dwyer (GII) at Belmont Park. First Dude has a record of 1-3-1 in six career races.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Romans of First Dude. “He’s a big, strong colt and he’s run with some of the best. Fly Down just beat him twice and came back and crushed ‘em in the Dwyer. We just think a lot of him.”
There is a potential for rain at Pimlico over the next few days, but Romans said track condition should be of little concern to his Preakness hopes.
“It shouldn’t bother either one of them,” he said. “I think both of them will run on anything. Paddy’s already proven that by running well on grass, Poly[track] and mud. I don’t see why running on a fast track would be any different.”
SUPER SAVER WELL ON EVE OF JOURNEY TO BALTIMORE, NO PREAKNESS FOR MISSION IMPAZIBLE – WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, winner of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), was reported to be doing well on the morning after Monday’s Churchill Downs workout that completed his serious training for Saturday’s 135th running of the Preakness (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The son of Maria’s Mon worked three furlongs in :36.60 over a fast track under regular jockey Calvin Borel on Monday. Mike McCarthy, the assistant who oversees Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher’s stable at Churchill Downs, said Super Saver was doing well Tuesday morning.
Pletcher will be represented in the Preakness by Super Saver and Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, runner-up in the $200,000 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GII) on April 24 at Churchill Downs. Both horses are scheduled to fly from Louisville to Baltimore at midday on Wednesday.
Pletcher confirmed via text message that Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, the ninth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, would not travel to Baltimore to compete in the Preakness. He said the next start for the winner of the Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds has not been determined.
The Pletcher duo and other Preakness contenders on the grounds at Churchill Downs are schedule to board vans at the Pletcher barn for the brief journey to Louisville International Airport around 11:30 a.m. (all times EDT). The Sutton Forwarding Co. flight that will carry the horses to Baltimore is set to depart from Louisville at noon.
LOOKIN AT LUCKY GALLOPS, GARCIA NOW DEFINITE FOR PREAKNESS RIDE – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Lookin At Lucky, a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby and America’s reigning 2-year-old champion, galloped at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, the eve of the colt’s departure for Baltimore to run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Trainer Bob Baffert said all was well with the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike, who will bid to provide the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer with his fifth victory in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. Baffert notched earlier wins in the 1 3/16-mile classic with Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (’98) and War Emblem (2002), and with Point Given, who also won the Belmont Stakes in 2001 after a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.
Baffert said 26-year-old Martin Garcia is confirmed to ride Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness. It will be the first Preakness ride for Garcia, who will replace Garrett Gomez in the saddle after Lookin At Lucky endured troubled journeys in the Santa Anita Derby (GI), where he finished third, and the “Run for the Roses.”
The trainer consulted with several more experienced riders who were available to ride in the Preakness, but decided to go with Garcia.
The thing with Martin is that he’s been on him – he’s worked him a lot,” Baffert said. “And he wins for me.”
Baffert has said that his decision to replace Gomez is not a reflection on the rider’s talent, but an effort to reverse the recent run of bad luck for the horse.
LUKAS LEAVES EARLY WITH DUBLIN, NORTHERN GIANT – Hall of Fame trainer and five-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas decided against a plane ride to Baltimore on Wednesday for his pair of Preakness contenders, who boarded a van Tuesday morning for the overland trip to Pimlico Race Course.
Robert Baker and William Mack’s Dublin, seventh in the Kentucky Derby for Lukas, completed his major preparation for the Preakness with a half-mile work on Monday in 48.40. Also on the van on Tuesday was Westrock Stables’ Northern Giant., who had breezed three furlongs on Monday at Churchill Downs in :36.40.
Westrock’s Tidal Pool, a game third behind Blind Luck in the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI), was also on the van to Pimlico to run in Friday’s $175,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) for 3-year-old fillies. The Lukas-trained Yankee Gentleman filly is the morning line favorite in a field of nine and will be ridden by Calvin Borel.
SUTTON FLIGHT TO CARRY 10 PREAKNESS HOPES TO BALTIMORE – Wednesday’s Sutton Forwarding Co. flight from Louisville to Baltimore for Saturday’s Preakness will carry 10 Preakness contenders to Pimlico – including eight that have been training at Churchill Downs.
The noon flight will carry the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Aikenite; Lookin At Lucky; the Dale Romans duo of Paddy O’Prado and First Dude; the Nick Zito-trained Jackson Bend, who finished 12th in the Derby; and Hurricane Ike, winner of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial.
The flight will originate in Ontario, Cal. and Preakness contender Caracortado will board the plane there. Joining the group of Preakness hopes in Louisville will be Florida Derby (GI) runner-up Pleasant Prince, who has been training at Keeneland for Wesley Ward since his third-place run in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial.
Also boarding the plane in Louisville will be Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame, the Al Stall, Jr.-trained winner of last fall’s Clark Handicap (GII) who is scheduled to make his 4-year-old in the Schaefer Handicap (GIII) at Pimlico on Preakness Day. He has been preparing his 2010 debut at Keeneland.
WORK TAB (Track: WET FAST) – Aspire, runner-up in the 2009 Hopeful (GI) and third in the Champagne (GI), breezed five furlongs for trainer Eddie Kenneally in 1:00.60 – the fastest of 16 moves at the distance. … veteran sprinter Euroears breezed a half-mile in :48 … John Battaglia Memorial winner Vow to Wager breezed a half-mile in :50 … Iroquois (GIII) winner Thiskyhasnolimit breezed four furlongs for trainer Steve Asmussen in :50.80.