Asmussen Schedules Early Moves
Asmussen schedules early week moves for Preakness hopefuls
Trainer Steve Asmussen's candidates for Saturday's Preakness S. (G1) at Pimlico -- ASTROLOGY (A.P. Indy) and NEHRO (Mineshaft) -- both galloped two miles on Sunday at Churchill Downs prior to the morning renovation break.
Astrology, who finished second in the Jerome S. (G2) and Sunland Derby (G3) in his two starts thus far this year, is scheduled to work Monday or Tuesday, with weather being the major factor in determining which day those works will occur. Rain is in the forecast for the Louisville, Kentucky, area for the next 24 hours, including a 60 percent chance of showers Monday morning.
A decision on whether to start Kentucky Derby (G1) and Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Nehro in the Preakness or await the 143rd running of the Belmont S. (G1) on June 11 will most likely be made Monday morning, according to owner Ahmed Zayat.
'I am leaving for Louisville in a few hours and I will be there to watch the horse breeze at Churchill Downs at 6 a.m. Monday,'Zayat said Sunday morning. 'Right now I am 70-30 to run in the Belmont and 50-50 to run in the Preakness. He's had three good races in six weeks; if he goes in the Preakness it will be four races in eight weeks.
'However, he is doing very well. His coat, his energy level, his demeanor have all been excellent since the Derby. After he breezes Monday I will sit down with Steve Asmussen and make a decision as to where we go.'
Zayat reiterated that he is 'not without ammunition'for the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes, however.
'We have been pointing Jaycito (Victory Gallop) to the Belmont, as well,'Zayat explained. 'We are hoping he will have enough fitness in him.'
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Jaycito won the Norfolk S. (G1) as a juvenile and finished second to Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) in the San Felipe S. (G2) on March 12 in his last start as a three-year-old before being sidelined by a foot bruise that knocked him off the Derby trail.
It was a quiet morning for the remainder of the Preakness probables and possibles at Churchill Downs.
Dialed In, seen here galloping before an eighth-place run in the Derby, will seek to compensate his connections with the Preakness bonus (Bob Newell/Horsephotos.com)
Florida Derby (G1) hero DIALED IN (Mineshaft), eighth as the favorite in Derby 137, galloped 1 1/2 miles Sunday morning over Churchill's muddy track with exercise rider Carlos Correa up. The Nick Zito charge, who is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico late Wednesday afternoon, will have the opportunity to cash in for $6.1 million with a victory in the Preakness. The dark bay won the Holy Bull S. (G3) and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, and is now eligible to earn his connections $5.5 million in bonuses offered in MI Developments' Preakness 5.5.
SHACKLEFORD (Forestry), who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby after setting the pace, galloped 1 1/2 miles on Sunday under exercise rider Faustino Ramos.
'He's training good and acting like he's happy,'said trainer Dale Romans. 'It's an important race, just like the Derby. I'm excited about this race.'
In addition to the $600,000 winner's share of the Preakness, Shackleford could also pick up a $550,000 bonus check tied into his performances in Gulfstream Park's three major Triple Crown prep races. He was second in the Florida Derby behind Dialed In at odds of 68-1.
'It doesn't make any difference,'Romans said. 'I didn't even know about it when we committed to come.'
Shackleford is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico on Wednesday.
SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex) walked the shedrow at Barn 42 a day after working six furlongs in 1:13 3/5. Trained by Jeff Bonde, Sway Away is scheduled to walk again Monday, go to the track Tuesday and then ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.
Sway Away is looking for a win in the same classic his sire captured (Bob Newell/Horsephotos.com)
On Preakness Day it will have been 35 days since Sway Away's last start, a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. He has been one of the top workers at Churchill Downs since shipping there, but was denied his chance to run in the Kentucky Derby because of insufficient graded stakes earnings. His 1:11 3/5 move on Derby day really caught clockers' attention, though.
'He seems to be finishing much better in his works to where we think he's maturing,'said Bonde from his base in California. 'We're probably going to go with a smaller blinker than we used in the Arkansas Derby.'
His start at Oaklawn was the first time in five career starts Sway Away raced in the hood and it was also the first time Patrick Valenzuela rode. He took the lead in midstretch, but was eventually overtaken by Archarcharch, Nehro and Dance City (City Zip) in the final strides. Garrett Gomez will be back aboard for the Preakness.
Sway Away will arrive at Pimlico from Churchill on Wednesday after a few days of light exercise.
Santa Anita Derby (G1) victor MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE (War Chant) galloped 1 5/8 miles under Peter Hutton before the morning renovation break. Trainer Bob Baffert is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Sunday tonight and be at the track Monday to oversee the morning activity of the 16th-place Kentucky Derby finisher.
Hutcheson S. (G2) winner FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy) walked the shedrow at Keeneland Sunday morning following a solid five-furlong move of 1:00 3/5 over the Polytrack in Lexington, Kentucky, the day before.
Flashpoint will bring a four-race record into the Preakness (Adam Coglianese Photography)
'We're ready for Freddie,'said trainer Wesley Ward, who will be saddling the colt for the first time since taking over for Richard Dutrow in April. 'He's a beautiful horse and he's got a wonderful demeanor about him. He does everything right and I couldn't ask for an easier horse to train.'
Flashpoint was a runaway winner of the seven-furlong Hutcheson at Gulfstream before fading to fourth in his two-turn debut in the Florida Derby from a tough outside post.
'I'm not particularly concerned about that,'Ward said. 'I've been given the task at hand, and I've been training the horse for this particular race.'
Ward said he will gallop Flashpoint the next few days and ship to Pimlico on Wednesday. Cornelio Velasquez, who was Dutrow's rider in all three prior starts this season, will retain the mount.
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