SWAY AWAY SCHEDULED TO WORK FOR PREAKNESS ON SATURDAY --Batman Stable, Philip Lebherz, Cindy Olsen, Janet Sharp and Glen Wallace et al’s Sway Away jogged a mile before the renovation break Friday morning under exercise rider Keith Davis as he continued preparation for next Saturday’s $1 million Preakness (Grade I) at Pimlico.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, Sway Away is scheduled to work Saturday morning in the first or second set after the track opens at 6 o’clock with Davis scheduled to be aboard for a likely six-furlong move.
Garrett Gomez, who rode Master of Hounds to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, has been named by trainer Jeff Bonde to ride Sway Away in the Preakness.
Also scheduled to work this weekend for the Preakness is The Estate of Edward P. Evans’ Dance City, who is slated to work Sunday morning. Third in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, Dance City galloped a mile and a half after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Obed Perez up.
Other Churchill Downs-housed horses with Preakness hopes had routine mornings on Friday.
Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude, 16th in the Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile and five-eighths under Peter Hutton before the renovation break; Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In galloped a mile and a half shortly after 7 o’clock with exercise rider Carlos Correa up; and, Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Faustino Ramos after the morning renovation break. Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s Astrology visited the starting gate under Carlos Rosas.
Zayat Stables’ Nehro, runner-up in Kentucky Derby 137 and considered as possible for the Preakness, walked the shedrow. Tom Walters’ Santiva, sixth in the Kentucky Derby and his Preakness status undetermined, galloped before the renovation break under Brendan Walsh. Fog City Stable and George Bolton’s The Factor galloped a mile and a half under Hutton and is scheduled to work Monday.
TANZANA PROVIDES HUGE LIFT FOR GARRY SIMMS --Trainer Garry Simms has faced a lot of adversity in his life, but nothing compares to the battle he has endured since being diagnosed with melanoma
in January 2010. Although he has been extremely ill for more than a year, Simms has found a spring in his step thanks to Tanzana.
“There’s nothing that a fast horse can’t fix,” said Simms, who has had two bone marrow transplants in the past 90 days. “He definitely helps me keep going.”
Tanzana, a 3-year-old colt by Freefourinternet, will return to racing in the ninth race on Saturday at Churchill Downs. The bay Florida-bred captured the Budweiser Select Cradle Stakes last year at River Downs for Simms and owners Morgeson Travis LLC. Shortly after the race, Tanzana came up with a condylar fracture and required surgery.
“They put a few screws in his ankle,” Simms said. “But we gave him several months off and he has fully recovered.”
The 59-year-old trainer would love to see his colt cross the wire in front on Saturday, but winning is not a must.
“We think we’ve got him fit enough and we wanted to get a race in him,” Simms said of the six-furlong optional claimer that has attracted a field of six that also includes Maybesomaybenot, winner of the Sanford (GII) at Saratoga last summer. “It’d be great to win, but the most important thing is that he comes out of the race well.”
Future plans for Tanzana will be decided shortly following Saturday’s race. “We’ll know where he’s at on Saturday and then go from there.”
PATRICK JOHNSON RETURNS TO RACES WITH MOUNT SATURDAY -- It takes ordinary athletes a long time to return to top form after years away from their respective sports.
Jockey Pat Johnson is no ordinary athlete.
“It’s just like riding a bike,” Johnson said.
After nearly a two-year absence, the 52-year-old journeyman jockey will have the opportunity to prove that he can still ride with the best when he climbs aboard Pearl Pendant for trainer Paul McGee in Saturday’s fifth race at Churchill Downs.
Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree from Sullivan University in Louisville, Johnson entered law school at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich.
“I wanted to get my law degree and apply it mainly in the horse industry,” Johnson said. “It was my goal to practice law, but also stay active in the sport.”
Johnson was unable to achieve the necessary requirements to receive his law degree and he returned to the Churchill Downs’ backstretch last October. Many people in Johnson’s situation would be discouraged; however, he is more than happy to be out of the classroom and back in the saddle.
“This sport gets into your blood and it stays there,” Johnson said. “I remember trying to study in the computer lab, but I would always find myself looking at DRF.com and ChurchillDowns.com to keep up with the latest news. Racing is all I’ve ever known and I love it.”
Johnson, who is 10th all-time in the Churchill Downs jockey standings with 465 victories, has no definite plans regarding his riding and academic careers.
“I am going to take a break from school for a while, but I may go back in time,” Johnson said. “I am enjoying my work for now and I am just trying to take it one day at a time.”
BARN TALK – Trainer Jim Baker has an easy explanation for the red-hot start he has had to the spring meet in which he has sent out three winners from four starters.
“They were all down in Florida,” said Baker, who got his third winner on Thursday when Awesome Review won the sixth race. “It was either too tough or they didn’t care for the track, but they run well here. They would run fifth or sixth and get beat two or three lengths and run their eyeballs out, but they just weren’t good enough. You felt sorry for them.” …
Jon Court rode two more winners Thursday to give him eight for the meet and a tie with Julien Leparoux at the top of the rider standings.
“It’s the best start I have had here in forever,” said Court, whose 32 percent win clip is exceeded only by Martin Garcia’s 3-for-4 performance last week. “It is nice to have good stock under you.”
Court rode in his first Kentucky Derby last Saturday, finishing 15th on Archarcharch, who suffered a career-ending injury in the race.
“It broke my heart,” Court said of Archarcharch, who returned to trainer Jinks Fires’ barn on Thursday following surgery in Lexington to repair a condylar fracture in the left front. “You are not supposed to get attached to them, but what can you do? You just keep putting one foot in front of the other and go on.”
WORK TAB – Paul Pompa Jr.’s multiple stakes-winning filly Rose Catherine breezed a half-mile in :48.20 over a fast track on Friday morning for trainer Todd Pletcher. Brylynn Farm’s Cool Bullet, coming off a second-place finish in the Commonwealth Stakes (GII) at Keeneland, worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.60 for trainer Steve Margolis. Trainer Jeff Bonde sent out Road Ready to work five furlongs in :58.60 prior to the renovation break. The 3-year-old colt, owned by Wayne and Peggy Atwell, Mersad Metanovic, and James R. Vreeland Sr. 1998 Trust, had the fastest work of 27 at the distance in preparation for the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard on May 21.