BALTIMORE, MD – Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming got acquainted with the racing surface at Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday morning during a light jog in preparation for a scheduled start in the 142nd Preakness Stakes on May 20.
Owned by MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St. Elias Stable, Siena Farm, and West Point Thoroughbreds, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt jogged clockwise once around the track under exercise rider Nick Bush and in the company of a pony.
Ginny DePasquale, Pletcher’s longtime assistant trainer, supervised the 6:30 a.m. training session on the day after arriving from Churchill Downs.
“He looked good,” said DePasquale, who has been employed by the Pletcher stable for 20 years. “He was bright, alert, checking things out, jogging with the pony. He was ready to go. The pony had to hang on to him because he wanted to do a little more. We’re happy with the way he went this morning.”
Always Dreaming, who’s won all four of his 2017 starts by a combined 23 1/4 lengths, has impressed DePasquale with his post-Derby physical condition.
“The race, I think, took nothing out of him,” she said. “We’re happy. He bounced back almost immediately.”
Always Dreaming is scheduled to gallop at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday when Pletcher is expected to observe his second Derby winner’s second trip to the Pimlico racetrack.
Royal Mo Gets Acquainted with Pimlico Racing Surface
Jerry and Ann Moss’ Royal Mo made his first visit to the Pimlico track Wednesday morning for some light work under exercise rider Taylor Leatherman. They went to the track at 9:30 a.m., jogged 3/4 of a mile clockwise, then turned around and galloped about 1 mile to the wire.
Leatherman, 17, picked up the assignment through the recommendation of a mutual friend of trainer John Shirreffs. She said she followed Shirreffs’ instructions.
“He just wanted me to give him a good first day to get him used to everything, just try to keep him collected and make him use himself,” she said. “It was a good first day for us to get used to each other.”
The son of Uncle Mo was on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Derby but did not draw into the field for the first race of the Triple Crown series. He flew from Louisville, KY, to Baltimore on Tuesday aboard the same flight carrying Derby winner Always Dreaming.
Leatherman, a resident of Union Bridge, MD, is an exercise rider for her mother, Faith Leatherman, and other local trainers. She said that her goal is to become a jockey.
Royal Mo opened 2017 with a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita on February 4. He was ninth in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn but rebounded from that performance to finish third, beaten one length, in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
Leatherman was all smiles after her first opportunity to get on a Preakness horse. “I loved it,” she said. “It’s definitely an amazing opportunity. I’m thankful for it.”
Conquest Mo Money Supplemented, Ready to Hit the Road
Judge Lanier Racing’s Preakness candidate Conquest Mo Money is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Race Course on Sunday, May 14.
Owner Tom McKenna, 81, said that the New York-bred colt will van to Baltimore from the Prairie Meadows racetrack in Altoona, IA. He said that the trip will likely take two days, with an overnight stop at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.
The son of Uncle Mo is handled by McKenna’s private trainer, Miguel Hernandez. His regular rider, Jorge Carreno, will spend the week at Pimlico and be aboard for the Preakness.
Although Conquest Money Mo earned enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby, McKenna opted not to run him in a 20-horse field. The colt was not nominated to the Triple Crown series, but McKenna has since paid the $150,000 fee to supplement him into the Preakness.
Conquest Mo Money – purchased for $8,500 at the Conquest Stables dispersal in November – will be the first Triple Crown series starter for McKenna and his wife, Sandy. They are the leading owners in New Mexico.
“It’s a dream come true, I never thought I would be here,” McKenna said. “Everybody dreams about it that gets in the horse business, whether you have one horse, two horses, or three horses. If you ask anyone what their dream is, they would say, ‘I hope to get to the Kentucky Derby.’ Everybody tells you that. Did I ever think I would get there? I hoped so. Lo and behold, I’m there.”
Joel Rosario Awarded Preakness Mount on Multiplier
Joel Rosario will ride the Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner Multiplier in the Preakness, said trainer Brendan Walsh. The son of The Factor won the 1 1/8-mile race by a head over Hedge Fund in his stakes debut after winning a two-turn maiden race at the Fair Grounds and finishing in the money in his first two starts.
James Graham was aboard for the victory on April 22 at Hawthorne Race Course. Walsh said that the switch was no reflection on Graham, but rather the opportunity presenting itself to get a jockey who is well-versed in the sport’s biggest events. Rosario finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby on Practical Joke, who is not running in the Preakness.
The New York-based Rosario won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb, the 2014 Belmont with Tonalist, and six Breeders’ Cup races. He was second in the Preakness with a pair of long shots in Ride On Curlin in 2014 and Tale of Verve in 2015.
“He’s an experienced rider and a fantastic rider,” Walsh said.
Multiplier had a routine gallop at Keeneland on Wednesday under exercise rider Asael Gonzalez.
“He’s doing great,” Walsh said.
Asked if he’d had time to study the field, Walsh said, “Yes, but I know all the horses pretty much. I mean, my horse, I worry about him right now. He’s doing well, and on his last run, I think he fits. We’ll have a better look at it closer to the time and see how the race is going to pan out and adapt to that. If the pace is slow, he’ll be closer. If not, he’ll be a little ways farther back. He’ll come running at the end, I know that for sure.”
O’Neill-Trained Term of Art Confirmed for Preakness Run
Trainer Doug O’Neill notified Pimlico officials of his intention to run Term of Art in the Preakness. The Calumet Farm-owned son of Tiznow, who is winless in four starts this year, concluded his 2-year-old season with a maiden-breaking triumph in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille at Del Mar.
“We think he’s a talented colt who deserves a chance in this big race,” O’Neill said. “We think he has classic-type ability and we’re going to roll the dice.”
Jose Ortiz will ride.
O’Neill, who captured the Preakness with Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in 2012, saddled Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist for a distant third-place finish as the 3-5 favorite last year. O’Neill’s other Preakness starter, Goldencents, finished fifth in 2013.
Back to the Track for Lookin At Lee and Hence
Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and 11th-place Hence resumed training on Wednesday, both having routine gallops at Churchill Downs. On Thursday, they’ll get their usual weekly session standing in the starting gate, both working an easy 1/2-mile on Monday and flying to Baltimore on Tuesday.
“I’ve been very pleased with how they came out of the race,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “Very impressed with their energy level and how they’re traveling.”
Asmussen said repeatedly after the Kentucky Derby’s post-position draw that, as unproductive as the No. 1 post has been in the race the past 25 years, Lookin At Lee was the sort of horse that could handle it.
“You know the statistics from the 1 hole, and you’ve watched the race and how troubling the crowding can be or whatever, but Lookin At Lee was the perfect horse for it,” Asmussen said. “He hung out there, waited his turn, and was ready to go when they called upon him.
Asmussen is likely to have the following horses in other Pimlico stakes:
- Terra Promessa in the Grade 3 Allaire Dupont Distaff;
- Chanteline in the Skipat;
- Holy Boss in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes;
- Resiliency in the Sir Barton;
- Vertical Oak in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness;
- Grand Candy in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint; and
- Total Tap in the James Murphy
The horses running on Friday most likely will van up on Monday, with the rest either vanning or flying on Tuesday.
Classic Empire Returns to Racetrack for Preakness Date
John Oxley’s Classic Empire returned to the track, jogging for the first time since finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby while encountering severe bumping and traffic literally from the start. Norman Casse, who oversees the Kentucky operation for his dad, trainer Mark Casse, said that last year’s 2-year-old champion will resume galloping on Thursday and will van to Pimlico on Sunday.
“I think he looked really good,” Norman Casse said. “His energy level was great. Looks like he’s keeping his weight. All the good signs are there, so we’re excited where he’s at right now.
“It’s the Derby. You know things aren’t going to go your way all the time. He kind of had a bad trip. It started at the very beginning, and that’s just how it goes. But we think we can be competitive against Always Dreaming. We think our best race would put us right there with his best race. We’re excited about the opportunity to face him again.”
The Casse barn should be well-represented in the other stakes, including:
- World Approval in the Grade 2 Longines Dixie;
- Summer Luck in the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan;
- Corporate Queen most likely in the Hilltop, but possibly the Black Eyed Susan;
- Noble Bird in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special (which he won in 2016);
- Pretty City Dancer in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness; and
- Victory to Victory in the Hilltop
Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera, seventh in the Derby, went out to train for the second day after getting Sunday and Monday off, going out shortly before 9 a.m. at Churchill Downs. Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth winner jogged a little over 1 mile with a pony, then had a controlled 1-mile gallop by himself. Regular exercise rider Victor O’Farrell was board.
“Since he was a baby, a 2-year-old, he always goes to the track with a pony,” said Alessandro Sano, who is overseeing Gunnevera’s training while his father, trainer Antonio Sano, is back in Florida. “We stick with it because it’s good for the horse.
“I liked what I saw today. The decision we made (to run instead of waiting for the Belmont) was the right decision, and hopefully we can get a win in the Preakness.”
Fern Circle Stables’ Senior Investment, winner of Keeneland’s Grade 3 Lexington Stakes on April 15, had a routine 1 1/2-mile gallop at Keeneland. He is scheduled to work on Sunday and fly to Baltimore on Tuesday, per trainer Kenny McPeek.
Pimlico Race Course