Two days after winning his second career Kentucky Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said he is impressed with how Always Dreaming came out of his 2 3/4-length victory over Lookin At Lee in Saturday's Run for the Roses.
“So far I've been amazed at how well he came out of the race,” said Pletcher at Churchill Downs Monday morning before taking a scheduled flight to New York later in the day. “His energy level is great. He walked the shedrow with a purpose this morning, ate all his dinner last night. Really, really pleased with the way he's come out of it so far.”
Always Dreaming will leave Churchill Downs between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for a short van ride to Louisville International Airport for a Tex Sutton Forwarding Company equine flight to Baltimore for the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico. The flight is expected to land at BWI at 9:30 a.m. The son of Bodemeister is expected to arrive at Pimlico in late morning. Pletcher is scheduled to arrive at the historic home of the Preakness Wednesday.
After speaking with owner Oussama Aboughazale Monday morning, Pletcher officially ruled out a Preakness run for Oaklawn Park's Rebel winner Malagacy.
Pletcher figures to be well-represented in other stakes May 19-20 at Pimlico. Moana is to fly with Always Dreaming to Baltimore for the May 19 Black-Eyed Susan (G2). Coming from Belmont Park will be Hedge Fund for the Sir Barton, Clipthecouponannie for the Skipat, possibly MadefromLucky for the Pimlico Special and Bode's Dream and/or Nonna Bella for the Miss Preakness.
“It's a great weekend of racing, some very high-quality races,” Pletcher said. “We look forward to bringing in some contenders for some of them, hopefully. I don't know how many horses or exactly when I'm going to ship everyone in. But it will be a relatively quiet time for us in some ways because we won't have that many horses there. I think in situations like that, when you have one really big event coming up, it's nice to have some other stuff to do to keep you from just sitting around and worrying about one race.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday morning at Churchill Downs he is “expecting to go” to the Preakness with Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee, as well as terming Derby 11th-place finisher Hence as a “probable” candidate.
Lookin At Lee closed from far back with a rail rally to finish five lengths ahead of third-place finisher Battle of Midway.
“I'm just very happy with the way he came out of the race. We'll give him another day off, just walk the shed, and we'll go to the track on our normal schedule,” Asmussen said. “He'll probably have one easy half [half-mile workout] before we head up there.”
Lookin At Lee is expected to fly out Wednesday, May 17, the last equine flight before the Preakness.
Hence was never a factor after a troubled start and subsequent traffic in the Derby. Before the Derby, Asmussen had said that spacing of races appeared to be a key for Hence, who puts a lot into his daily training. Hence rebounded from his seventh-place finish in Oaklawn Park's Southwest to win the Sunland Derby in impressive fashion five weeks later, which gave the Street Boss colt six weeks before the Kentucky Derby.
“He came out of the race really well. He didn't run hard enough to be tired, I know that,” Asmussen said of the Derby and its two-week spacing with the Preakness. “It's not necessarily ideal, but if he didn't run hard, [more time] wouldn't be as required.
“He was pretty overwhelmed, I think, just by the kickback and stuff. He never leveled off, definitely came out of it feeling good. So I don't think he ran hard. Off a hard race, spacing is required. But off an easy one, it's more like a work.”
Trainer Antonio Sano called it “50-50” that Peacock Racing Stables' Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Gunnevera will run in the Preakness, with the other option being training up to the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Sano clearly is agonizing over the decision, saying he wants to go in the race that gives the Dialed In colt the best chance of winning, while also trying to have a horse for the big 3-year-old races later in the season. His concern about the Preakness is that running back in two weeks might knock Gunnevera out of races later in the summer such as Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational or Saratoga's Travers Stakes.
“It's not easy,” he said. “It's such a complicated decision for the horse…. I need the horse for a long time.”
Gunnevera is scheduled to resume training Tuesday, probably after the mid-morning renovation break. If he runs in the Preakness, Gunnevera will van to Baltimore from Churchill Downs early next week, Sano said.
Trainer Brendan Walsh termed American Equistock's Multiplier “a strong possibility” for the Preakness after the Illinois Derby winner worked an easy half-mile in 50 3/5 seconds when the track opened for training at Keeneland Monday. Walsh was in the saddle for the move. The Keeneland clockers caught Multiplier galloping out the five furlongs in 1:03 3/5 after breezing in company with Golden Domer.
“We worked fine for him,” Walsh said by phone. “He's not a great work horse, but he worked good and we're happy with him. We are pointing there (the Preakness) right now, I think. If everything is well in the next week or so, there's a strong possibility we will run.”
The work was the first for Multiplier since he won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby April 22 by a head over Hedge Fund, covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 4/5 seconds.
Walsh said the work showed “just that he's in good order and in good terms with himself after the run in Illinois. He's not a spectacular worker. He does what he needs to do and that's it. He's moving well and it seems like he's in a good mindset. So it's all systems go.”
Walsh said Multiplier could work again Sunday and probably ship to Pimlico “around the middle of next week. He wouldn't need a lot of time there. He's as laid-back as they come.”
Preakness candidate Senior Investment worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:00 2/5 under exercise rider Danny Ramsey after the mid-morning renovation break Monday at Keeneland. It was the fastest of 18 works at the distance, with the clockers getting a gallop-out time of 1:13 4/5 for the six furlongs.
“He worked super,” trainer Kenny McPeek said by phone. “He's pretty consistent. We didn't do anything special, but he's on his game right now. We're going to work him again next Sunday and then work on travel plans. “It was a maintenance breeze. I told (Ramsey) to break him off, sit still and let him do his own thing down the lane. He pretty much hit 12s (per eighth-mile) the whole way.”
The Lexington (G3) winner will remain at Keeneland until flying to Baltimore, McPeek said. Channing Hill has the mount.
Royal Mo, the Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher excluded from the Kentucky Derby because of the points-system tiebreaker used to determine the 20th horse to get in the field, had a walk day after working five-eighths of mile in 1:05 Sunday at Churchill Downs. He is scheduled to fly to Baltimore Tuesday morning.
Other Preakness candidates include Conquest Mo Money, who has been supplemented to the Preakness, and Cloud Computing.
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