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Darren Fleming, one of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s top assistants, had an up-close view of the progress made by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Red Route One throughout the winter at Oaklawn Park. On Saturday, he’ll find out if it’s enough to win the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.
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The late-running chestnut son of Gun Runner went from finishing a well-beaten second in the Southwest (G3) to rallying from 20 lengths back in the slop to finish second again in the Rebel (G2), but only by a length.
Then came the Arkansas Derby (G1), when he could get no closer than sixth but still finished only 5 ½ lengths behind victorious Angel of Empire, who went on to be a close third in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
“He ducked away from something down the lane,” Fleming said of Red Route One’s Arkansas Derby. “I thought it cost him a lot of momentum. He wasn’t beaten very far for the whole thing, and that’s being slowed way down at the eighth pole.”
Red Route One was rerouted from the Kentucky Derby (G1) to the $200,000, 1 1/8-mile Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn, where he closed into a moderate pace to win by a head and earn an all-fees paid berth in the Preakness. Joel Rosario has the return mount and will break from Post 5 on Red Route One, who is 10-1 on the morning line.
“He got rolling late, but he finished up nice,” Fleming said of the Bath House Row. “And he went straight to the wire, which is something that has been kind of hindering him, too, like in the Arkansas Derby. He’s gotten more focused now. Before, he was always looking around for something.”
Red Route One was scheduled to school in the paddock with the third race Thursday. Fleming said he expects the colt to train around 6 a.m. Friday. Asmussen also is expected in Baltimore on Friday.
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