Runnymede Racing LLC's Alwaysmining breezed a half-mile at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Friday morning in preparation for a planned start in the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course May 18.
The son of Stay Thirsty, who is riding a six-race winning streak, covered the four-furlong distance under regular exercise rider Felix Astudillo in 48.20 seconds, the fastest of 13 recorded at the distance over Fair Hill's synthetic surface.
“I was very happy with his work today. He started off nice and easy and finished up strong,” trainer Kelly Rubley said. “He galloped out very well, so we're very pleased.
“I wanted to see him start out nice and easy and finish up strong. My rider thought he was very aggressive going to the pole, which is a great sign,” she added. “Now we'll see how he comes out tomorrow and get through this week.”
Alwaysmining seemed to enjoy his morning exercise as much as Rubley and Astudillo did.
“His confidence level seems to be getting better and better, so he's getting more aggressive to breeze. He loves what he does. It makes a big difference. He makes it look easy. It's a lot of fun to watch,” Rubley said.
Alwaysmining, who concluded his juvenile campaign with three straight victories, is undefeated and unchallenged in three starts this year, all at Laurel Park. The Maryland-bred gelding captured the one-turn mile Miracle Wood by 4 ¼ lengths before successfully negotiating two turns while winning the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms by 6 ¾ lengths and the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio by 11 ½ lengths.
“He's always been a lovely mover. You can tell right away that he has an enormous stride and covered a lot of ground and he just seems to get better and better as he continues on,” Rubley said. “It's definitely helped us with stretching him out, and it seems the farther he goes the better he gets, which is great.”
Alwaysmining earned a fees-paid entry into the Preakness Stakes with his victory in the Tesio, a 'Win and In' Preakness prep.
“We'll see how he comes out of this. He'll jog on Sunday and then we'll decide from there whether we gallop or jog another day,” Rubley said. “He'll go down to Pimlico on Thursday and probably jog Friday morning and then run Saturday.”
Alex and JoAnn Lieblong's Laughing Fox galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Brooke Stillion at Churchill Downs Friday morning in preparation for the May 18 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
The son of Union Rags earned a fees-paid entry into the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with a victory in the inaugural $300,000 Oaklawn [Park] Invitational last Saturday.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Laughing Fox will have an easy half-mile work on Monday. Ricardo Santana Jr. will be aboard in the Preakness.
“What a cool mind,” Asmussen said of Laughing Fox, a flashy-looking chestnut with a distinctive big blaze and four white legs. “He's a really pretty horse. I just like his attitude, very relaxed, just recently back here and settled in wonderfully, got a good appetite and a great attitude.”
Laughing Fox won a 1 1/16-mile Oaklawn allowance race but then was a disappointing seventh in a division of the Rebel Stakes (G2). The deep closer rallied to be fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) won by Omaha Beach, the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite until being sidelined with a breathing obstruction. Third in the Arkansas Derby, a length ahead of Laughing Fox, was Country House, the adjudged Kentucky Derby winner.
“He did not run well in the Rebel,” Asmussen said. “He had a very solid Oaklawn meet; he's run plenty. He had five runs at Oaklawn, recently winning the Oaklawn Invitational, ran a solid number going a mile and an eighth. And he was beaten a length by the Kentucky Derby winner in the Arkansas Derby. I expect him to run well. As much as he's done, it's good to still see him as laid-back as he is.”
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