Weekend Preakness Report
WEEKEND PREAKNESS REPORT
Caracortado, First Dude work for Preakness; Super Saver might breeze
With just four days before the post position draw, the field for the 135th running of the Preakness S. (G1) is in sharper focus. The $1 million classic is the headline event of next Saturday's card at historic Pimlico. The middle jewel of the Triple Crown should feature double-digit starters for the 16th time in 19 years. Caracortado will seek to return to his winning ways in the Preakness (Benoit Photo)
About 2,650 miles from Old Hilltop, at Santa Anita, CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams) punched his ticket to the Preakness with a seven-furlong work under regular rider Paul Atkinson. Caracortado stopped the clock in 1:24 3/5, the faster of two works at the distance on the Pro-Ride. The gelding won the first five races of his career, including the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2), but has not raced since a troubled fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 3.
"He looked great," trainer Mike Machowsky said. "He got a good blow out of it and it tightened him up. He looked good back at the barn."
Machowsky, who plans on arriving in Baltimore Tuesday night, gained national attention six years ago with Southern Image, one of the nation's elite older horses. He won both the Santa Anita H. (G1) and Pimlico Special H. (G1) during the 2004 campaign, but Caracortado has brought the 44-year-old onto an even bigger stage.
"I'm pretty confident in the way he's going," added Machowsky, who has not been to Pimlico since Southern Image's big score in the Special. "I think he's going to bring his A-plus game to the race the way he's training right now. I'm excited about the opportunity."
It will be the first Triple Crown mount for Atkinson, who will turn 41 five days after the Preakness.
"He's never ridden this horse poorly and the horse has always run well for him," Machowsky said. "A good horse will make any trainer, owner or jockey look good and Paul's never had the opportunity to ride a horse like him. There's so many trainers who don't get the opportunity to get a horse like this. I always say its 80 percent the horse and 10 percent the jock and 10 percent the trainer."
At Churchill Downs Saturday morning, FIRST DUDE (Stephen Got Even) became a confirmed starter in the Preakness with a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00 3/5 under Tammy Fox after the morning renovation break. Churchill Downs clockers caught First Dude in fractions of :11 3/5, :23 2/5, :35 1/5, :47 3/5 and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 4/5. First Dude started his work at the half-mile pole and went to the seven-eighths pole.
"I was very pleased with the work. It's on to the Preakness," trainer Dale Romans said.
The move, accomplished over a track labeled as fast, was the best of 13 at the distance. It was First Dude's second bullet work since he finished third in the Blue Grass S. (G1) on April 10. First Dude had worked five furlongs over a muddy track in 1:00 4/5 on April 26, the best of 26 at the distance that day.
Romans' other Preakness probable, third-place Kentucky Derby (G1) finisher PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]), galloped 1 1/2 miles after First Dude's work.
In other Preakness news:
Also at Churchill on Saturday, Kentucky Derby winner SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon) galloped 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Todd Pletcher viewed the morning exercise from the frontside of the track.
"He galloped really, really well," said Pletcher, who arrived in Louisville Friday night and was seeing the Derby winner on the track for the first time since his triumph in last Saturday's Run for the Roses. "His energy level is very good and he has rebounded quickly. You always hope for that coming back in two weeks."
Super Saver, who gave jockey Calvin Borel his third Kentucky Derby victory in the past four years, may work Monday.
"Right now, I am leaning toward working him," Pletcher said. "I want to see how he gallops tomorrow, but most likely it will be an easy half-mile."
Pletcher's other Preakness starter, AIKENITE (Yes It's True), galloped 1 3/8 miles.
"He will work five-eighths in company (Sunday) morning," Pletcher said of the last-out Derby Trial S. (G3) runner-up. "He is training well."
Derby favorite LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) galloped 1 1/2 miles after the renovation break under exercise rider Peter Hutton. Trainer Bob Baffert has yet to make a firm decision on Lookin at Lucky's Preakness participation but said Saturday morning, "I'll know by Monday."
Baffert also addressed the rumor mill surrounding jockey Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard Lookin at Lucky in all nine of his starts.
"I am still not sure if I am going to run and if I don't run, I don't need to make a switch," Baffert said. "There are a lot of rumors out there. What happened is I told Martin Garcia's agent (Jim Pegram) not to do anything for Preakness Day because I might have other horses running there that day."
One horse Baffert is expected to take to Pimlico is Quiet Invader (Songandaprayer), who is nominated to the Chick Lang S. (G3). Garcia, who was aboard Conveyance (Indian Charlie) for Baffert in the Derby, has ridden Quiet Invader in all five of his starts. Pimlico officials also expect Baffert to bring Ventana (Toccet) for the Maryland Sprint H. (G3).
Nick Zito is also expected to make a final decision regarding JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil), who galloped 1 3/8 miles. Jackson Bend won five consecutive races in 2009 then produced three straight second-places finishes, in the Holy Bull S. (G3), Fountain of Youth S. (G2) and Wood Memorial S. (G1), before a 12th place finish in the Derby.
HURRICANE IKE (Graeme Hall), the Derby Trial winner two weeks ago, is scheduled to work Monday morning at Churchill.
PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King), the Florida Derby (G1) runner-up, will work five furlongs at Keeneland Sunday morning with regular rider Julien Leparoux. Trainer Wesley Ward praised his jockey, the reigning Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey.
"I have a lot of confidence in that rider," said Ward, a former rider. "He knows the horse very well and the horse has run very, very well for that jock, who always seems to be able to place him wherever he wants. The horse has got tactical speed where he can lay up close if he's put in that situation."
The May 12 Tex Sutton flight, which will leave Los Angeles at 5 a.m. (EDT), is scheduled to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 1:30 p.m. after a stop in Louisville, Kentucky. The flight could feature 10 Preakness starters: Caracortado, Super Saver, Aikenite, Paddy O'Prado, First Dude, Lookin at Lucky, Jackson Bend, Hurricane Ike, Pleasant Prince and YAWANNA TWIST (Yonaguska), a Rick Dutrow trainee under consideration.
D. Wayne Lukas, a five-time Preakness winner, will be the first to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn a day earlier with DUBLIN (Afleet Alex) and NORTHERN GIANT (Giant's Causeway). It will be the 11th time during his Hall of Fame career that Lukas has had multiple starters in the Preakness. Lukas plans to work each colt either Sunday or Monday.
SCHOOLYARD DREAMS (Stephen Got Even) will be vanned to Pimlico from New Jersey the day before the race, according to trainer Derek Ryan. Schoolyard Dreams, who finished ahead of Super Saver in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) in mid-March, worked a five-furlong bullet at Monmouth Park Thursday morning.
Tony Dutrow reported that A LITTLE WARM (Stormin Fever), second in the Louisiana Derby (G2), would work in the "next day or two" at Delaware Park. He has finished first or second in six of seven starts.
Trainer Alexis Barba reported she would be meeting with Ellen and Peter Johnson, the owners of MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (Bernstein), Saturday afternoon to discuss the next start for the Derby fourth-place finisher. Make Music for Me is expected to compete in the Belmont S. (G1) on June 5.
"It looks very unlikely that we're running in the Preakness," Barba said.
The post position draw for the Preakness will be held in the Turfside Terrace at Pimlico on Wednesday at 5 p.m. televised live on HRTV.
The Preakness headlines a 13-race card three days later. NBC Sports has the live coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m., with post time scheduled for 6:15.
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