Cash is King, LC Racing and D.J. Stable's Diamond King turned in his final work for the 143rd Preakness with a five-furlong breeze Sunday morning at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa.
Frankie Pennington was aboard as the stakes-winning son of Grade 1 winner Quality Road went in 1:01.50 over a sloppy main track in company with 4-year-old gelding Colonel Juan. Diamond King galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.53.
“Everything went super, very good. It was exactly what I was looking for,” trainer John Servis said. “I told him I was looking for around 1:01 and then let him gallop out on his own … so it was right on the money.”
Diamond King has worked twice since his victory in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio Stakes April 21 at Laurel Park that earned him an automatic berth into the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. He breezed a half-mile on his own in 50.21 seconds May 6 at Parx.
“He went in company today because he works better in company than he does by himself. He can be a bit lazy,” Servis said. “I'm very happy with him. I'm tickled to death. I think he's doing great.”
Considering the weather and the forecast, Servis was relieved to get Sunday's work in as planned, rather than have to push it back to Monday.
“Very much so,” he said. “It was a sealed racetrack. It wasn't the best racetrack in the world but the bottom was good. I would have preferred a fast racetrack, but for a wet track it was very good, actually.”
Diamond King will have an easy day Monday and will remain at Parx until later in the week. All Preakness horses must be on the grounds by noon on Thursday, May 17.
“He'll walk tomorrow and then I'll just play it by ear after that,” Servis said. “I'll see how he comes out of this work and how everything is and adjust his schedule accordingly.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who notched his second Preakness victory last year aboard Cloud Computing, has been named to ride.
Justify figures to be a strong favorite in the Preakness, and Servis was complimentary of the Kentucky Derby winner.
“He's very impressive. Especially as good as he did it, and as good as he looks, it's just hard to imagine that was only his fourth start,” he said. “He's a good horse. He might be a great horse. I think we're finding that out.”
Owner G M B Racing on Saturday evening tweeted that the Tom Amoss-trained Lone Sailor, its Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up and Kentucky Derby eighth-place finisher, will run in the Preakness and that Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.
“When we got into this thing in 2014, on the back of our silks are three crowns, the Triple Crown,” said Greg Bensel, the senior vice president for communications for the NFL's New Orleans Saints and NBA Pelicans, who also oversees G M B Racing for Gayle Benson, now the owner of the Saints and Pelicans following husband Tom Benson's death March 15.
“A lot of people don't particularly know that's what it stands for,” Bensel said of the G M B's silks design. “But our goal is always to run in the Triple Crown races, to run at the highest level. We've always dreamt of the Kentucky Derby, and we've been fortunate enough to have three in the last three years. We've won the Woody Stephens at Belmont, but the Preakness and Baltimore have always been a place we've wanted to run and be a part of that.”
G M B Racing was represented in the 2016 Kentucky Derby by Mo Tom (8th) and Tom's Ready (12th), who went on to win the Woody Stephens (G2) on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
“Our horses, although they ran eighth and 12th in 2016 (in the Derby), our head guy, Mo Tom, was a guy who'd lose a lot of weight and couldn't really bounce back. This guy, Tom Amoss gave us a good report Derby night, a great report the next day. I'm talking about him eating his whole tub, lively, got the look in his eye, went out for a full gallop a couple days later, full of energy, full of spunk. So no reason to not think about the Preakness,” Bensel said.
“Then you want to take a peek at the field. You want to see what Justify is doing; you want to see who else is entered; you want to see how big the field is because he's a deep closer,” he added. “You saw how he got held up by (a stopping) Free Drop Billy in the Derby, and then he lost a shoe. So he was running against all odds in that Derby, and still he came fighting hard in the slop to be eighth. We're hearing that we're probably going to have a lot of wetness and moisture in Baltimore this week. We hear the field will be somewhat lighter. Justify or no Justify, we are on go. All systems point to go for us.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. has picked up the mount aboard Lone Sailor, who was ridden by James Graham in the Derby.
“We called on Irad Ortiz here. No disrespect to James Graham. We love James Graham; he's been great to us. But we're going to try something a little different here and take our chance,” Bensel said. “We've got a horse with a big engine, who is healthy, who's sound, who's full of energy. And why not?”
Lone Sailor galloped Sunday morning at Churchill Downs and will fly to Baltimore Wednesday. Amoss said the colt definitely deserves another chance with the cards reshuffled.
“The caveat here is that it was a very sloppy track Derby Day,” Amoss said. “But having said that, it's hard to not want to take a chance against a group that didn't come home very fast in the Kentucky Derby. Our horse, like many others, got in trouble in the race and we'd like another shot at this group. I have great respect for the group, and I thought going into the Kentucky Derby that the race went through California – which it turned out to do. But I'm looking forward to getting another chance at what hopefully is a fast track, although looking at the weather ahead, it looks like more rain.”
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