Close menu
Preakness Stakes News & Notes: Abiding Star, Awesome Speed, Lani Arrive at Pimlico

Preakness Stakes News & Notes: Abiding Star, Awesome Speed, Lani Arrive at Pimlico

BALTIMORE – Reddam Racing LLC’s Nyquist galloped a strong 1 ¼ miles at Pimlico Race Course Thursday morning in preparation for Saturday’s 141st Preakness Stakes (G1), continuing to impress trainer Doug O’Neill with the high level of energy the 3-5 morning-line favorite has demonstrated since capturing the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 7.

“We were very happy. Nyquist had great energy, looked real loose and galloped really well. We’re very, very happy the way the morning went,” O’Neill said. “Tomorrow is going to be an easy morning, so I’m feeling very optimistic about Saturday.”

O’Neill was joined by jockey Mario Gutierrez on the press box porch to watch Nyquist’s final serious tune-up for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with just a jogging session slated for Friday morning.

“We’re very, very optimistic. I think we’re very confident,” said Gutierrez, who guided the son of Uncle Mo to a comfortable 1 ¼-length triumph in the Derby. “Watching him gallop today, it’s hard not to be confident.”

Four years ago, Gutierrez visited Pimlico for the first time with I’ll Have Another, aboard whom he followed up a Kentucky Derby victory with a narrow victory in the Preakness Stakes for owner J. Paul Reddam and O’Neill.

“I have nothing but good memories from Baltimore and the Preakness,” said the 29-year-old jockey, who never got the chance to shoot for a Triple Crown sweep due to an injury sustained by I’ll Have Another the day before the Belmont Stakes. “Being able to come back with the kind of horse I’m coming back with, there’s a lot of joy. Coming here with a heavy favorite makes me very happy.”

Gutierrez has been riding in Southern California since his triumph in the 2012 Preakness, gaining experience and fine-tuning his career.

“Definitely the experience of riding four years with elite competition – Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, all the top jockeys in the country – is good experience,” the Mexico native said. “Plus I’m doing stuff that I wasn’t doing four years ago. Now, I’m seeing a sports psychologist; I go to a chiropractor twice a week; I have a specialist stretch me a couple times a week. I’m doing way different things than I was doing in 2012.”

Through good and bad times, Reddam and O’Neill stood by Gutierrez, who enjoyed his best year in 2015 aboard the winners of 104 races and $6.3 million in purses. Gutierrez has been aboard Nyquist for all eight of his races, all victories.

“I can stay here all day trying to describe the feeling when I’m on his back. It’s a good feeling. It’s like you know you have in your hands a powerful animal just waiting for you to let go and you know he’ll kick in,” Gutierrez said. “Besides that, his attitude, I think he loves to race; he loves the competition. When someone comes close to him, he’ll push his ears back and take off. He’s pretty amazing.”

Despite having only two weeks to bounce back from his Kentucky Derby score, Nyquist is instilling confidence in O’Neill that he will be ready for the challenge Saturday.

“He was pretty good before the Derby and he’s pretty good now,” O’Neill said. “He had five weeks to prepare from the Florida Derby to the Kentucky Derby. This is a quick turnaround. He’s showing all signs that he’s as good as ever.”

EXAGGERATOR – Keith and Kent Desormeaux fell 1 1/4 lengths shy of becoming the first trainer-jockey brother combination to team to win the Kentucky Derby, with the late-running Exaggerator finishing second to unbeaten Nyquist. Two weeks later, the Desormeauxs can achieve that first in the Preakness, which has the added dimension of being in Maryland, where both brothers really launched their racing careers.

“This is a tribute to Charlie Hadry and David Vance,” Kent Desormeaux said by phone, referencing two trainers fundamental to the brothers’ careers. “We’re there because of those two people. David Vance gave me the opportunity. Charlie Hadry gave Keith and I both the opportunity, and we learned our lessons well.”

Keith, who first came to Maryland as a college student looking to gallop horses as a summer job, was an assistant trainer to the highly respected Hadry for several years before going out on his own for good in 1990. (He also had some horses racing in his name in 1988).

Vance is now based in Kentucky and his longtime winter base of Oaklawn Park, but back then he raced in the summers at Louisiana Downs, where Kent Desormeaux was riding as a new apprentice.

“I had a verbal contract with him to follow him back to Oaklawn,” the two-time Preakness-winning jockey said. “He was noticeable of my skills and said, ‘I’ll take you to Maryland, but you’ve got to go to Oaklawn and move on.’ I had to get on my knees and beg Big Daddy, David Vance, to allow me to stay — understandably, because I was winning six a day. He let me off the hook. If he would have said, ‘No, you have to come to Oaklawn,’ I would have gone. My career at that point was in David Vance’s hands.”

Instead, Kent Desormeaux set a record of 450 wins that year en route to being the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey, which he followed with 471 in 1988. In 1989, riding in Maryland during the day and Penn National at night, Desormeaux took dead aim on the national win record, which he would shatter with 598 victories to clip Chris McCarron’s 1974 mark of 546.

While driven to get the record, Desormeaux still made a significant sacrifice: He took a rare couple of days off that spring to attend the graduation of what would have been his class at North Vermillion High School in Maurice, La. Desormeaux had earned a GED from Airline High School in Bossier City, La., where Louisiana Downs is located.

“But they allowed me to walk, which I didn’t out of respect to my peers,” Kent Desormeaux recalled. “My peers wanted me to walk in their class. I went to their graduation, but I did not walk. I was 19 years old, and I thought they did all the work and I hadn’t and I didn’t deserve that walk. So I stayed in my chair. It was one of my most emotional days. I was honored beyond belief to be invited by my high school class.”

Exaggerator, however, did walk. The Derby runner-up walked 30 minutes around the shedrow, a common routine on a Thursday for a Keith Desormeaux-trained horse.  The son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin will resume training Friday.

ABIDING STAR – Stonehedge LLC’s Abiding Star arrived at Pimlico Race Course Thursday around 8 a.m. following a van ride from Parx Racing in the Philadelphia area. Abiding Star was accompanied by Always Sunshine, rated second at 7-2 in the morning line for Saturday’s Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3).

“We left at 5:30. It was a nice clean trip. I followed the van down,” trainer Ned Allard said. “Tomorrow, they’re both going to go out to the racetrack to do a little something and then they’re ready to roll. There’s nothing major left to be done.”

Both Allard trainees are stabled in Barn 1 in the stable area along the backstretch at Pimlico, far away from the Preakness Stakes Barns in the stable area behind the grandstand. Abiding Star and other healthy horses that shipped from Parx, where a quarantine for equine herpesvirus was lifted Tuesday, are scheduled to train between 5 and 5:30 a.m. Friday prior to the regular training session that starts at 6 a.m. Allard was highly complimentary of Pimlico management’s special precautionary measures and accommodations for his horses.

Abiding Star, one of four sons of Uncle Mo in the 11-horse field, is riding a five-race winning streak, including the Parx Derby May 7.

AWESOME SPEED – Colts Neck Stable’s Awesome Speed was the final Preakness entrant to arrive on the grounds at Pimlico when his van pulled in shortly before 11 o’clock from New Jersey Thursday morning.

Accompanied by assistant trainer Jorge Duarte, who will handle the program here for trainer Alan Goldberg, the son of Awesome Again settled into Stall 17 in the Preakness Stakes Barn. All Preakness runners needed to be on the grounds by noon.

“I feel like it was smooth and he handled it well,” Duarte said. “We left at 8. He did a little gallop this morning, then we got him ready to travel. Tomorrow we’ll get a gallop over the track and use Alberto Delgado, a local rider. Maybe Saturday we’ll jog him. We’ll see.’’

The Federico Tesio winner was one of two Goldberg-trained horses on the van from Colts Neck. The other, Top Sheet, is entered to run in the second race Friday. Goldberg has four horses scheduled to run Saturday.

With rain forecast for Saturday, Goldberg said Thursday he was more concerned about the weather’s effect on his grass runners scheduled to run in Races 2, 4, and 12. Awesome Speed won the Tesio via disqualification on a track labeled ‘good’ at Laurel on April 9, earning an automatic berth in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“For him I don’t know how terrible it would be,” Goldberg said by phone from Colts Neck Stable. “But for the three other turf horses I have, it might not be so hot.  I just hope he runs a good race.”

Awesome Speed drew Post 4 on Wednesday, right between Derby winner Nyquist (3) and runner-up Exaggerator (5), which Goldberg said shouldn’t be much of a factor. Nyquist is a front-running type while Exaggerator likes to come from well off the pace.

“I would have liked to have been outside a little further, but it is what it is,” he said.  “I don’t think it means too much. I’m just hoping that he gets a good break and he’s forward.  That’s where he runs.”

Jockey Jevian Toledo rides the three-time stakes winner for the second time.

CHERRY WINE – If Cherry Wine could pull off the upset in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, it might be the most emotional victory in trainer Dale Romans’ career. That’s because he goes way back not only with Cherry Wine’s owners but also with the colt’s family.

“It would be a family affair for everybody,” Romans said Thursday morning at Pimlico.

Cherry Wine is owned by breeders William Pacella, Frank Jones and Frank Shoop. Romans has trained for Pacella for 20 years, and Jones has known Romans literally from the first day the trainer was born. Jones has had only two trainers in his decades-long ownership tenure, the first being Romans’ late father, Jerry. Jones called Dale Romans his adopted son, and their personal bond transcends their business relationship.

Romans goes back three generations with Cherry Wine, who, like sire Paddy O’Prado, is gray. He bought Sweeping Story privately for client Ron McKee for $70,000 after her second start. The filly, a half-sister to Metropolitan Mile (G1) winner Exciting Story, went on to win two stakes and finish third in the 1999 Kentucky Oaks at 57-1 odds.

“We were selling babies out of her,” Romans said. “The first one sold for ($330,000), the second for $800,000. C. S. Royce came along. Ron was getting out of the business, and I bought her for the Pacellas and Frank (Jones).

“One day, she was galloping and just fell on the racetrack, for no reason. Everybody thought she was dead. And John Garrity, our veterinarian, walked out there and touched her on the head, and she jumped right up. Everybody said he was Jesus. So I just retired her. I said, ‘Horses don’t just fall unless there’s a problem,’ and we bred her. I had a breeding season to Paddy O’Prado, and the cross worked, so I bred her to Paddy O’Prado and I raised Cherry Wine.”

Cherry Wine was born on Romans’ Lexington farm, previously owned by McKee and where C.S. Royce was foaled. Cherry Wine is her first foal.

“He was born in my backyard,” Romans said. “He’s like one of my children.

“He’s got a little Paddy O’Prado personality about him. Paddy was the most personable horse I ever had. He was curious about things. He would holler and scream at other horses –never mean. He’d holler at people when they came into the barn, like he wanted them to come visit with him. And this horse is inquisitive. He’s not quite as verbal as Paddy.

“Paddy is a little darker (gray) and a little heavier. He’s got the shape of his mother and the color and personality of Paddy.”

And the ability of? “Of Paddy,” Romans said, adding with a laugh, “who didn’t run very well in the Preakness, which maybe that’s not good. He ran well in the Derby.”

Paddy O’Prado, who went on to be a Grade 1 winner on turf, finished third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby in the slop, then was sixth in the Preakness. His son was third in this year’s Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland but missed making the Kentucky Derby on points.

“But Cherry Wine is an emerging horse,” Romans said of his stretch-runner. “He’s getting better all the time. And the race should set up for him.”

Cherry Wine schooled in the starting gate before galloping 1 ½ miles under Faustino Aguilar. Romans watched the session on the Pimlico press box balcony, where Doug O’Neill was watching his unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist train.

Romans turned to O’Neill and asked of Cherry Wine, “Doug, how does he look?”

“He looks good,” O’Neill responded, joking, “I better scratch and look for another spot.”

COLLECTED –With rain in the forecast for Saturday, trainer Bob Baffert spent some time Thursday morning talking about the intense storm that struck Pimlico just prior to last year’s Preakness. American Pharoah relished running on the wet track and he easily won the Preakness on the way to becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert said his young son Bode, is something of a weather geek and was paying attention to the storm as it approached the track.

“That wind came in and all the horses’ ears were pinned back. They showed a close-up of the 1 hole (where American Pharoah was starting from) and the water was running like a river,” Baffert said. “I was in the paddock area and the wind and the rain started coming in and I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, how am I going to get to the winner’s circle? It’s raining really hard.’ All of a sudden, Bode goes, ‘Hey, dad, look at that wind, look at that rain. How are we going to get to the winner’s circle?’”

Baffert said his wife, Jill, scolded their son about flirting with bad luck by talking about winning before the race was run.

“She said ‘Not now, Bode. We don’t go there. We don’t talk about that,’” Baffert said.

“I just thought it and then he said it. I never would have said it out loud. Actually, when you win a Preakness it doesn’t matter how hard it can be raining. It’s pretty fun out there.”

Baffert said he did take his son’s advice, saddled American Pharoah and Dortmund quickly and headed for cover in the paddock.

“We got out of there before it started coming down,” Baffert said. “It was pretty crazy. I thought maybe for a minute that they might bring them back to the paddock and postpone it a little bit. It was something.”

Baffert said that a wet track on Saturday might have an impact on the race, though he noted that Pimlico’s track handles rain well.

“It’s not going to affect Nyquist,” he said. “It will affect half of the field. The winner is either going to be completely clean or completely, really dirty. I think my horse definitely has to be up there in the front. There is so much speed. There is quality speed. Uncle Lino is quality, my horse is fast and you’ve got some other horses that could be fast.

“The break is going to be the whole key. Nyquist is in a spot down there that if he were to get away slow it could be bad for him, because he could get caught up in the vacuum there. I’m sure they are going to be aggressive with him. I assume that he will be on the lead.”

Since he arrived in Baltimore this week, Baffert has been asked to compare how it feels to come to the Preakness with a new shooter like Speedway Stable’s Collected and last year with the Derby winner. Someone wondered if it felt weird.

“I’ve come in here a little weird many years,” Baffert said, laughing. “I know what it feels like. I’ve been through it so many times.

“It’s the first time coming here after a Triple Crown. It was weird going to the Derby, a little bit. It’s something that I’m just coming in here with a horse that didn’t run in the Derby. I’ve never won it with a horse that I didn’t run in the Derby. So it’s a different feel. It’s uncharted waters.”

Baffert, 63 and a heart attack survivor, said he never thought about retiring after American Pharoah took him to the promised land last year by winning Triple Crown. He joked that winning a huge lottery might send him to retirement, but he has no plans to leave the business.

“I really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s still fun to compete. It’s fun to come here. This is why we do it. I’m a competitor. The juices are still flowing. We come out here and watch the horses train and watch the new horses coming in and wondering which one is going to be the next star. I would go crazy if I didn’t train horses. I would go nuts. I still have a few to go.

“When we did win the Triple Crown and the grand slam it was like, ‘What else can I do?’ It did hit me a little bit. ‘Do I walk away? Where am I going to walk to? Nogales, Arizona (his home town)? It’s too far.’ I’m sorry that my parents didn’t get to see it. That was a thing that bothered me because they wanted to see that happen.”

FELLOWSHIP – Jacks or Better Farm’s Fellowship galloped 1 ½ miles over a fast Pimlico racing surface Thursday morning under exercise rider Brian O’Leary.

Norman Casse, assistant to his father Mark, said Fellowship is penciled in for a paddock schooling session with Thursday afternoon’s third race but may pass on the opportunity.

“It will be a game-time decision,” the younger Casse said. “He doesn’t need it.”

Fellowship came into the Casse barn at Churchill Downs a month ago and that is when O’Leary first teamed up with the Florida-bred son of Awesome of Course.

“My first impression of him was that he was small to look at,” said O’Leary, who has been with the Casse barn since last September. “But the first time I rode him, he had a beautiful feel. He didn’t feel small and was a very efficient mover.”

O’Leary, who previously worked for Aidan O’Brien and Eddie Kenneally, was sold on Fellowship after their initial outing.

“I told Norman that I really liked him,” O’Leary said.

“I thought he would suit the horse,” Casse said of the decision to partner O’Leary with Fellowship. “He is smaller than our other riders. He has good hands and gets horses to relax.”

LANI – Koji Maeda’s Lani arrived at Pimlico at 8:55 Thursday morning following a van ride from Belmont Park.

“We left Belmont at 4:15,” said Keita Tanaka, agent for Maeda. “It was a smooth trip and we got here on time.”

Lani was housed in an isolation portion of Barn B.

“He will have half a barn to walk in, which is about the same as what he had at Churchill Downs,” Tanaka said referring to Lani’s housing during his five-week stay in the stakes barn in Louisville, where he ran ninth in the Kentucky Derby.

Lani had shipped to Belmont Park on May 9 and completed his major Preakness preparation there with a five-furlong work in 1:01.50 on Wednesday.

Trainer Mikio Matsunaga said Lani would go to the track Friday morning between 7 and 9.

“He may go around one time or two, but he will go to the gate to stand,” Matsunaga said, adding that Lani also would go to the track Saturday morning to train the day of the race as he did in Kentucky.

Tanaka said Lani would not have a paddock schooling session, “just the gate for him to walk in, stand and back out.”

Jockey Yutaka Take was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore Thursday afternoon.

LAOBAN – McCormick Racing LLC and Southern Equine Stable’s Laoban galloped a mile and schooled at the starting gate Thursday morning at Pimlico.

“I hadn’t put him in the gate since I took the blinkers off (following a fourth-place finish in the Blue Grass April 9),” trainer Eric Guillot said. “He used to kind of hesitate to go in, but once he gets in he’s fine.  They said he hesitated a little bit, but once they opened the gates he went right in.”

Laoban has run his last four races with blinkers after a nondescript debut race at Del Mar last fall without the hood. He ran second in his subsequent start and has since finished third, second and fourth in graded-stakes races with blinkers in place.

He will enter the Preakness starting gate without cover and with new rider Florent Geroux aboard.  Guillot said that with the weather forecast of a possible day-long rain, it makes even more sense to go blinker-less.

“It’s not about how much the horses like it, it’s about the splash back in their face,” said the 54-year-old Louisiana native. “If it’s really sloppy muddy, a lot of them won’t run through it. If it’s raining during the race, a lot of them just tuck their tails and don’t like it. Some love it. Moreno (his 2014 Whitney (G1) and Charles Town Classic (G2) winner) loved it, never got it. You could have written out the check if he ever ran in the slop. He trained like a freak in it. This guy seems to like it.”

Geroux, who has already won 16 graded stakes this season, became available for his first Preakness mount after Gun Runner was declared from Preakness consideration Tuesday.   Exercise rider Clay Courville was aboard for Thursday morning’s exercise.

“He galloped with authority today,” said Guillot, who admitted to a smattering of mixed emotions about facing Nyquist in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“I bred the mom of Nyquist – Seeking Gabrielle,” he said. “That’s the name of my partner’s (Michael Moreno) daughter, Gabrielle.”

Nyquist is 3-5 in the morning line, Laoban was listed among the longest shots at 30-1.

If Laoban prevails Saturday, he would not be the first maiden to win the Preakness. Research this week by Allan Carter, historian at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., shows that the Preakness was won six times by maidens prior to 1910:  Survivor (1873), Culpepper (1874), Shirley (1876), Cloverbrook (1877), Saunterer (1881), and Refund (1888).

“We’ve been second, third and fourth in graded stakes,” he said when asked if Nyquist and Exaggerator stood above the field here.  “They’ve all got four legs and a tail. It’s never a two-horse race. Go back and look at Guillot’s history in big races.  I’ve won 23 graded stakes and 11 of them paid over a $25 mutuel.  Apparently I didn’t have a chance in those 11 either, right?

“I’m coming for two reasons:  he needs a race for one, and two, I need a race that’s loaded with speed to educate him.  With a horse it’s all about breathing.  It’s not about fractions, it’s about him being rank with the blinkers and him pulling and breathing. I’m trying to get him to relax.  If everything goes just right and Nyquist falters, the rest of them are not head and shoulders over me.”

Laoban will be Guillot’s first starter in a Triple Crown race.

“I had two eligible for the Derby over the years that had the graded-stakes money,” said Guillot, whose colt was first on the also-eligible list for this year’s Derby. “One was a grass horse and one was a sprinter. I was 21st looking in over there and didn’t get in, so I’m just happy to be here.”

STRADIVARI – Stradivari, who comes into the Preakness off a 14 1/2-length allowance victory at Keeneland, arrived at Pimlico on a Brook Ledge horse van shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday, having made the four-hour ship from Belmont Park.

Now he’ll try to match Bernardini in 2006 by winning the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in his fourth lifetime start. Stradivari is the 8-1 third choice in the morning line, with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“When the horse was born, I thought from the very beginning that he was a very nice foal, and my dad did as well,” said Tanya Gunther, general manager of Glennwood Farm near Versailles, Ky., for her father, John. “We just continued to watch him blossom and improve.  He just had natural-athlete looks to him.”

The Gunthers offered the Medaglia d’Oro colt, who is out of their American Chance mare Bending Strings, for sale at Keeneland’s 2014 September yearling auction, but the top bid of $335,000 did not meet their pre-determined minimum price.

“We set what we thought was fair reserve, but one where if we didn’t sell we were happy to keep him and race him,” Tanya Gunther said by phone. “We love the racing game, even though we put most of the horses through the sale. We put him into the racing stable, I’d say relatively happily, because we thought he was our best colt.”

Stradivari finished fourth in his first start sprinting, then won a 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream maiden race by 11 1/4 lengths.

“We were a bit wowed by that race,” Gunther said. “Even more so when he won the allowance the way he did. To win that way at Keeneland, you just don’t see that very often with any horse, never mind one you bred and raised and are racing yourself. Johnny V. barely asked him. I think he just kind of let the rein out a notch and off he went.

“I’d gone down to Florida to see the horse and Todd a couple of times during the winter, and he’d said to me what a good mind (Stradivari) has. I think that must have factored in big-time in terms of him making the decision to take this step, which is obviously a big step to go from allowance company to a classic race.”

After the maiden victory, the Gunthers sold part interest in Stradivari to Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier, who are associates of the international Coolmore stallion and breeding conglomerate and have a lot of horses with Pletcher. The Gunthers also board broodmares at Coolmore’s Ireland operation.

Pletcher said he was thinking early on about how to best get Stradivari to the Kentucky Derby, a goal that changed to the Preakness after a minor setback kept the colt from racing again for 4 ½ months, until the April 17 allowance race at 1 1/8 miles. Gunther said the trainer took the lead in targeting Triple Crown races.

“We, of course, get hopeful, but have been trying to manage our expectations and not get too chomping at the bit,” she said. “Who said it first? It would be hard to say. But I don’t think we put that in the mind of Todd. I think he had in his mind that this was a top horse from the beginning, and it just kind of evolved. When a horse wins like that at Gulfstream – gosh, I don’t recall ever racing a horse that has done that for us – so you automatically start thinking about what their potential is. I think we had the same idea, but we were very excited to hear it from Todd, with his experience and the quality of horses in his barn.”

Under the best of circumstances, jumping from entry-level allowance to the Triple Crown is a lofty challenge. But this Preakness features an unbeaten champion in Nyquist.

“We’re crossing our fingers, toes, arms, legs,” Gunther said. “In terms of coming up against a horse like Nyquist and Exaggerator and these many good horses, it does make you get a bit nervous inside. None of us has a crystal ball to say how he will do. We’re just very hopeful. We think he’s talented and it’s worth trying.

Nyquist will be very tough to beat, and we’ll find out quite a bit more about Stradivari on Saturday. There’s that unknown factor that’s quite interesting, but also a bit nerve-wracking.”

UNCLE LINO – Members of the small Uncle Lino entourage posed for photos with the colt outside the Preakness Stakes Barn Thursday morning as co-owner Tom Mansor explained how the son of Uncle Mo was named after his favorite uncle, the late Lino Luigi Cenini, his mother’s brother.

Mansor and Jim Glavin, who operates as Purple Shamrock Racing, are partners in the colt with trainer Gary Sherlock. Mansor, 74, and Sherlock, 70, are the sons of jockeys and have known each other since they were kids growing up in Pleasanton, Calif. Mansor returned to the racing business a few years ago and Sherlock was one of the trainers he began doing business with. In September 2014, Sherlock picked out a yearling son of the first-crop sire Uncle Mo to run with Mansor. They paid $52,000 for the colt and later sold a third to Glavin.

When it came time to name the promising colt, Mansor and his partners decided that Uncle Lino would be a good fit. Lino Cenini died at the age of 84 in June 2010 in Palm Desert, Calif.

“When I was young, my dad was a jock and traveling, so they put me in a private Catholic military school in the San Mateo area,” Mansor said. “Lino would come every so often and get me out for the weekend.  He was my uncle, my father, my brother and good friend, the whole bit.

“We’re a racetrack family. Lino was a trainer in Northern California. He eventually went down to Agua Caliente. I would go down there on summer vacations and visit him. We’d go to Del Mar and Agua Caliente. He kind of kept me around horses. We were very close.”

Mansor made his living in medical sales and now –10 years after he “retired” – says he is working seven days a week with his medical-related services company, including a lab in Arizona.

Uncle Lino was gone, but not forgotten when Mansor started buying Thoroughbreds again.

“I got back into the horse business and wanted to name a horse after him,” Mansor said. “But you hate to name a horse after somebody you love, because if you don’t run well, what do you do? Gary came out to Keeneland to get some babies and he got the Uncle Mo horse. We had hesitated naming any horse until we could see how good it is. When Gary got him back, he said, ‘This is the horse, Tom.’ I said, ‘Perfect. Uncle Mo, Uncle Lino.’ It’s just turned out great.”

Uncle Lino has three graded-stakes placings, including a third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The speedy colt won the California Chrome Stakes, named after the 2014 Derby and Preakness winner, on April 30. That performance convinced Sherlock, Mansor and Glavin to run in the Preakness. Jockey Fernando Hernandez Perez, his regular rider, will be aboard for the Preakness.

Sherlock said Uncle Lino has settled in well since shipping from California on Tuesday. He went to the track for the first time Thursday and galloped a mile.

Pimlico Race Course

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up