Preakness Stakes (Grade I) contenders Owendale, Signalman and Warrior’s Charge topped Saturday morning’s work tab at Churchill Downs as the trio put in their final preparation for the second jewel in racing’s Triple Crown on May 18.
Rupp Racing’s Lexington Stakes (GIII) winner Owendale was the first Preakness contender to breeze Saturday at 5:30 a.m. EDT and recorded a five-furlong bullet move in :59.20 – the fastest of 31 at the distance. Trained by Brad Cox, Owendale clipped through splits of :12.40, :24 and :46.80 before he galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
About five minutes later, Owendale’s stablemate, Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables’ allowance winner Warrior’s Charge, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 through fractions of :12.60, :24.60 and :48.60 before a six-furlong gallop out in 1:13.20, according to Nichols. The ownership of Warrior’s Charge would have to pay $150,000 to supplement to the Preakness Stakes.
“The track was really good this morning,” said Cox, who was joined on the Stakes Room balcony by eight clients and friends. “I think both horses ready to roll. Owendale has been doing phenomenal following the Lexington. He has that built in foundation from the race that will suit him well in the Preakness.
“Warrior’s Charge should be able to handle the extra distance and is showing us he’s on an upward trend. That’s why we decided to supplement him. He didn’t run in any of the Derby preps so he had some time to develop and grow into himself.”
About two hours later, Tommie Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers and Magdalena Racing’s Signalman breezed a half-mile in :47.60 in company with Indian Counselor (:48).
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard Signalman for the work and is scheduled to ride in the Preakness.
A total of seven contenders for the Preakness are based at Churchill Downs including a trio of runners from the Kentucky Derby: Improbable (4th), War of Will (7th) and Bodexpress (13th).
Oaklawn Invitational winner Laughing Fox, based in Steve Asmussen’s Barn 38 beneath the Twin Spires, is also a likely entrant for the Preakness.
KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER SERENGETI EMPRESS TARGETING POSSIBLE RETURN IN ACORN – Joel Politi’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) hero Serengeti Empress could target the $700,000 Acorn (GI) on the undercard of the June 8 Belmont Stakes, according to trainer Tom Amoss.
“She’ll just do some light training at Churchill Downs the rest of the month and we’ll look at (the Acorn) as a possible next target,” Amoss said. “It’s been beyond words to describe the emotions of winning the Kentucky Oaks. It’s been a complete team effort to even get to this point. The Churchill Downs turf course is only used for two races a year for a winner’s circle celebration – the Kentucky Oaks and, of course, the Kentucky Derby. Being out on that turf course and hearing the roar of the crowd is indescribable. Then, looking to every side of me and seeing pure joy on everyone’s faces is a feeling I wish everyone could experience.”
Serengeti Empress, a 3-year-old daughter of Alternation, was picked out by Amoss at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $70,000.
“It’s been so special to literally be a part of her entire career,” Amoss continued. “We picked her out as a yearling for a very reasonable cost. The average price that day at the sale was over six figures and we found her for $70,000. Then, seeing her develop as a 2-year-old and mature as a 3-year-old has been very special to say the least.”
Serengeti Empress is stabled in Barn 29 at Churchill Downs.
AGENT SHAKEUP – With the start of the 2019 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs already underway, there have been several agent switches in the Churchill Downs jockey colony.
Sixteen-time leading rider Corey Lanerie now will be represented by Cory Prewitt. The 31-year-old Lexington, Ky.-native also represents Declan Cannon. Lanerie’s former agent, Richard Price, will represent Jesus Castanon.
New to the Churchill Downs colony this meet, Tyler Baze, now will be represented by longtime track announcer Vic Stauffer. Baze, a former mainstay in California, moved his tack to Oaklawn over the winter and is likely to remain in Kentucky for the calendar year.
Returning to the riding colony this meet is 22-year-old Rayan Gazader who is represented by Rocco O’Connor.
Veteran agent Terry “Jaws” Miller is back on the scene at Churchill Downs following a year on the sidelines and will take calls for former Kentucky Derby-winning rider Stewart Elliott.
DOWN THE STRETCH – There is a $153,128 carryover in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot for Saturday’s program. The sequence begins in Race 6. … Nominations for the Grade III, $100,000 Winning Colors for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs closes Saturday. To nominate, call the Churchill Downs Racing Office at (502) 636-4470.