CALIFORNIA LONGSHOT COULD BE MONEY AT PREAKNESS
Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which had two winners pay $100-plus in just the past six years, bombs-away long shots are few and far between in the Preakness Stakes.
The biggest Preakness payout was $48.80 when Master Derby won in 1975. Since then, only one winner paid more than $30, Deputed Testamony ($31) in 1983.
The message for betting Saturday's 135th Preakness seems clear. Avoid any horse whose odds are much over 10-1. Unless you are betting the superfecta, that is: In 10 of the past 15 runnings, at least one horse at 20-1 or higher finished in the top four.
In this year's prospective field of 14, several runners figure in that price range. One of these is West Coast invader Caracortado.
Trained by Mike Machowsky, Caracortado (Spanish for "scarface") began his career racing four furlongs for a $40,000 maiden-claiming tag at Fairplex Park.
The California-bred gelding won that handily, then took back-to-back allowance races at Hollywood Park, followed by a score in the California Breeders at Santa Anita.
Machowsky, now with a serious horse on his hands, ran Caracortado back in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. The son of Cat Dream was up to the task, charging from off the pace under jockey Paul Atkinson to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
But after running third as the favorite in the San Felipe and a rough-trip fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, Caracortado just missed the earnings cutoff to make the Kentucky Derby field. So Machowsky waited.
"I have never started a horse in the Triple Crown, so I'm really looking forward to it," he said Friday. "He hasn't run in six weeks, so I just want a nice, solid work."
Caracortado responded the next morning, rolling seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5 at Santa Anita.
"He looked good," Machowsky said. "He got a good blow out of it, and it tightened him up. I think he's going to bring his A-plus game to the race, the way he's training right now. I'm excited." *
Aikenite, stablemate of Derby winner Super Saver, worked five furlongs in :49 2/5 yesterday, in company, at Churchill Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Another Pletcher runner, Louisiana Derby winner Mission Impazible, who finished ninth in the Derby, is possible for the Preakness. A decision will be made tomorrow.
Pleasant Prince sizzled five furlongs in :59 yesterday at Keeneland, out six in 1:13 3/5. Super Saver, Mission Impazible, Dublin, Northern Giant, Hurricane Ike, Jackson Bend and Yawanna Twist are all scheduled to work this morning at Churchill.
by Ed Fountaine
In other Preakness news:
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert continued to prepare sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) in Louisville, Kentucky, for a possible trip to Pimlico for the Preakness. Lookin at Lucky galloped 1 1/2 miles after the renovation break with Peter Hutton up.
"I just want to see how he's doing," Baffert said. "If he is still doing well like he did today and how he is this afternoon, I have to let people know so they can plan.
"I'd say there is a very good chance, unless I see something this afternoon that changes my mind," he added.
Baffert has yet to commit the beaten Kentucky Derby favorite to the Preakness, but a decision on his Preakness status is expected Monday.
"I'm going to wait until (Monday) to make the decision, but right now he's getting stronger every day," Baffert said. "I'm leaning toward it, but I'm just not sure. Everybody is trying to nail me down, but I don't want to say yes today, because I've been known to change my mind quite often. I'm sort of being wishy-washy about it, but I'd rather wait and see how he is on Monday. Today, I liked what I saw."
If Lookin at Lucky does run in the Preakness, he will be ridden by Martin Garcia. Gomez rode the colt in all nine of his career starts, but Baffert said it was time for a switch that might produce some better karma for the talented colt, who manages to find trouble -- in victory and defeat.
Baffert was critical of how Gomez rode the colt in a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), but kept him on the colt for the Kentucky Derby. Lookin at Lucky drew the rail in the 20-horse Derby and was bounced around a couple of times in the first run through the stretch. He made a huge move in the second turn to get into a contending position, but could not sustain the rally and finished sixth.
"I talked with Garrett a few days ago," Baffert said. "I told him that we've just been having such bad luck and I wasn't sure if I was going to run, so I wanted to give him a chance to find another mount. And if I did run, I was maybe going to replace him only just to change our luck.
"He was good about it because we're good friends. I wanted to try something different one time and see. Maybe we'll draw better or do something. I'm just trying to change our luck."
Even if Baffert doesn't go to the Preakness with Lookin at Lucky, he's already got a possible contender for the June 5 Belmont S. (G1) residing in his shedrow following Saturday's Lone Star Derby (G3). Game on Dude (Awesome Again) cruised to a 4 1/2-length victory in that 8 1/2-furlong test at Lone Star Park, marking himself as a possible Belmont contender.
"I knew I was going to get my fourth Derby win," Baffert quipped Sunday morning. "I just didn't know it would be the Lone Star Derby (G3). I got it at the wrong track."
Game on Dude was a three-length maiden winner earlier this season at Gulfstream Park, but could do better than seventh when making his stakes bow in the Florida Derby, the ran a distant fifth in the Derby Trial over a muddy Churchill track.
"He could be a Belmont horse," Baffert said of Game On Dude. "We will look seriously at it with him. We bought him three days before the Florida Derby and he was just green in there. We ran him here in the Derby Trial and he hated the mud."
Game on Dude, who prepped at Churchill before his Texas triumph, is headed back to Baffert's home base in Southern California.
Preakness preparations continued Sunday morning under the Twin Spires for three other Pimlico-bound colts.
Kentucky Derby third PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]) galloped 1 1/2 miles after the renovation break while FIRST DUDE (Stephen Got Even) walked the shedrow following Saturday's bullet five-eighths work of 1:00 3/5. The Blue Grass third, who like Paddy O'Prado is trained by Dale Romans, is in jeopardy of being bumped from the Preakness field that is limited to 14 starters, pending the Preakness decisions for Mission Impazible and Yawanna Twist.
In the event that the 15 horses currently under consideration for the Preakness are entered Wednesday, First Dude would be the horse excluded from the field.
JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil) galloped 1 1/2 miles before the renovation break under Stacy Prior for trainer Nick Zito. Zito, who saddled Louis Quatorze for victory in the 1996 Preakness, said a final decision is likely to be made Monday following a workout at Churchill Downs.
"We'll do a little something tomorrow, maybe blow him out a little bit," Zito said Sunday. "Then I'll talk to Bob (principal owner LaPenta) and we'll see what he wants to do."
Grade 2 winner CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams) looked "really good" to trainer Mike Machowsky Sunday morning after working seven furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:24 3/5 the previous morning. Machowsky's homebred, who was forced to sit out the Kentucky Derby due to a lack of graded-stakes earnings, is scheduled to ship to Baltimore via Kentucky on Wednesday.
The 44-year-old trainer is encouraged by the success California-based horses have enjoyed after shipping east this year.
"The racetrack at Santa Anita is a great surface to train on," said Machowsky of the synthetic Pro-Ride surface. "Horses seem to stay really fit."
The California-bred gelding, whom Machowsky owns in partnership with Blahut Racing LLC, has also performed well on synthetic surfaces in the afternoon, but he will not be uninitiated on a traditional dirt surface when he goes to post in the Preakness. The chestnut broke his maiden over the dirt track at Fairplex in his debut last September.
"He has no wasted motion. He's a clean-moving horse. I think that's the reason I think he'll run well on any surface," Machowsky said.
Southern California journeyman Paul Atkinson, who has ridden Caracortado in all seven of his starts will have the return mount.
Trainer Derek Ryan will try the same tactic he utilized a year ago with Preakness third-place finisher Musket Man (Yonguska), opting to van SCHOOLYARD DREAMS (Stephen Got Even) from Monmouth Park on the morning of the race. The bay colt, who finished ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver when second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) before being left in Eskendereya's wake in the Wood Memorial (G1), galloped 1 3/4 miles at Monmouth Sunday.
"He's doing great," Ryan said. "Everything is good to go. We decided to come down the morning of the race last year, and that seemed to work out well. "It's only a two and a half-hour drive."
Schoolyard Dreams ran fourth in the Wood Memorial behind a victorious Eskendereya, falling short of making the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field that is decided. The way he's been working lately, that may have been a blessing in disguise.
"He probably should have been second, but the rider went for a hole that really wasn't there," Ryan said. "Our plan was just to win the Tampa Derby and go right to Churchill, but we got that tough beat (a nose loss to Odysseus [Malibu Moon]) and that sort of threw a splinter in the works and we had to re-route to the Wood."
Trainer Anthony Dutrow said Sunday he will likely decide the Preakness status of Louisiana Derby runner-up A LITTLE WARM (Stormin Fever) on Monday.
"I'm going to Delaware Park tomorrow to see how everything is,’ said the 52-year-old Dutrow, eldest of three sons of the late Maryland trainer Dick Dutrow. "I'll make a decision tomorrow morning with what I'm going to do with him."
A Little Warm would be the first starter in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown for Dutrow, whose younger brother Richard saddled Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown for a Preakness victory in 2008.
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