BALTIMORE, 5-14-13 – Much has been said and written about the grueling demands the Kentucky Derby places on a horse so early in his 3-year-old season. Trainer Shug McGaughey understands how stern the rigors of a 1 ¼-mile race can be on a young horse, but he has no doubt Orb was physically up to the challenge during his Kentucky Derby victory on May 4.
Orb, who is likely to be heavily favored to win Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, gave his Hall of Fame trainer all he could handle in the shedrow of the Pimlico Stakes Barn Tuesday morning.
“He had a lot of energy. I walked him a few turns and had to give him up,” McGaughey said with a smile. “So far, so good. I worried a little bit yesterday coming down here: ‘Am I going too early?’ But I’m glad we got in here while it’s still good and quiet and got settled in. He had a good night and a nice morning. Everything is good.”
Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s homebred colt breezed a half-mile at Belmont Park Monday morning in 47.18 seconds under his motionless exercise rider, Jenn Patterson, before shipping to Pimlico in a van that arrived shortly after 3 p.m.
“She was so worried (Monday) that she had gone too fast. I had to assure her that the way he did it he didn’t (go too fast),” McGaughey said. “I asked her this morning, ‘Still think he went too fast?’ She just laughed.”
McGaughey continued to marvel at the progress Orb has shown after each race this year.
“It shows the development he’s going through. He’s showing us in his daily routine since the Derby that he’s still moving forward,” he said. “What he’s going to show in the afternoon, who knows? But right now, I’m really, really pleased with what I see.”
McGaughey walked the racetrack Tuesday morning with Patterson, who also rode a pony over the track to familiarize herself with the racing surface. The 62-year-old trainer hasn’t been a participant in the Preakness Stakes since Easy Goer’s defeat by a nose to Sunday Silence in 1989.
“As soon as I got here, it all came back to me – where I needed to be, where I was going,” he said. “I feel like I’m back on familiar ground, and I’m tickled to death to be here.”
Shug McGaughey will be available at 8 a.m. Wednesday during a press conference to be held adjacent to the Preakness Stakes Barn.
GOLDENCENTS – Kevin Krigger has never won a Triple Crown race, but he admits it’s been something on his riding bucket list since arriving in the U.S. from his native St. Croix more than a decade ago. On Saturday, he could become the first African-American rider to win the Preakness since and Willie Simms victory in 1898. George “Spider” Anderson is the only other African-American jockey to win, doing so in 1889.
“Basically that’s just part of the history,” said the soft-spoken Krigger, who will be the first African-American jockey to ride in the Preakness since Wayne Barnett finished eighth aboard Sparrowvon in 1985. “The media actually is paying more attention to it than I am because I really don’t have time to worry about that. I’m focused here on getting Goldencents in the Preakness winner’s circle.”
Krigger could have been back home riding at Betfair Hollywood Park, but trainer Doug O’Neill asked him to stay with the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner and be aboard for all of his subsequent training for the Preakness.
Goldencents finished 17th as the third betting choice in the Derby, which was contested over a sloppy, sealed track.
“It was one of those races where it kind of threw up a mystery sign in all of our heads and we just had to go back to the drawing board,” said Krigger, who has been aboard for all seven of Goldencents’ races. “We didn’t get the outcome we were looking for, but the greatest thing about it is that the horse came back healthy and we’re here getting ready for the Preakness.”
Krigger said he eased up on the son of Into Mischief once he realized he was out of contention in the Derby, so he hasn’t lost any confidence in him. O’Neill admitted he was impressed by the fact that Krigger did the right thing by his colt.
“Kevin’s such a positive guy and such a positive rider,” O’Neill said Tuesday morning after Krigger took Goldencents out for his regular morning gallop around Pimlico. “He’s been great with the horse, and we’re pretty lucky to have a guy to make that kind of commitment. It just shows how dedicated he is and how passionate he is. He’s a real team player.”
Krigger said it wasn’t a difficult decision to make the commitment to Goldencents.
“I have a lot of faith in him,” he said. “I’ve been on this horse every time, and these guys stuck with me. They kept me on this horse this far, and I would have felt bad if I was in California after they asked me to stay here and I refused. As easily as I could have ridden other horses back there, they could have had someone else on him. I’m on him because they have faith in my riding ability and we get along good – not just me and the horse, but me and the entire team. They’re a great team to work with.”
Meanwhile, Krigger has become something of a local hero in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where his family still lives. In fact, he brought his grandmother here to have knee surgery.
“I found out about two days before the Derby that I had a Facebook page,” said the 29-year-old Preakness rookie. “I guess it was put together by my sister and my cousin, and my mother informed me that the Virgin Islands media are trying to get hold of me to do interviews. She also informed me that a lot of kids are leaving comments as far as I inspired them to follow their dreams. I don’t really keep up with social media, but that made me appreciate my ‘Like’ page for the first time.”
Only two of the last eight Derby winners have also captured the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown: Big Brown in 2008 and the O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another last year. (I’ll Have Another never got his Triple Crown chance when he came up injured the day before the Belmont Stakes).
“I feel we have a good chance to win again; if we get a good trip, I think we can win,” said O’Neill, who also paid his respects to Derby winner Orb. “Shug’s (McGaughey) a Hall of Fame trainer. (Orb) is a Triple Crown threat for sure.”
GOVENOR CHARLIE – Mike Pegram’s colt remains on course for a start in the Preakness, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday.
“He came out of his work really, really well,” said Baffert, who has won the 1 3/16-mile classic five times. “We are prepared to go.”
Govenor Charlie worked six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 Monday morning at Churchill Downs. Baffert is at home in California this week and has been receiving reports from Kentucky on the colt from his longtime assistant, Jimmy Barnes.
The Sunland Derby (G3) winner did not compete in the Kentucky Derby because a minor foot bruise caused him to miss some training time in April. Govenor Charlie has had three solid works and has demonstrated that he has recovered from the foot issue.
Although Baffert noted that he has until Wednesday morning to change his mind about shipping the Midnight Lute colt to Maryland, he said, “Unless he shows me something, it’s pretty likely he’ll be on that plane.”
Jockey Martin Garcia, who has ridden Govenor Charlie in his three career races, will be aboard in the Preakness.
Baffert is scheduled to travel to Baltimore on Thursday.
Govenor Charlie will be Baffert’s 14th Preakness starter. He has won with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002) and Lookin At Lucky (2010). The Hall of Fame trainer saddled Bodemeister for a second-place finish behind I’ll Have Another last year.
DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing returned to the track early Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs for the first time since working a half-mile in 50 2/5 seconds on Sunday morning.
With trainer Al Stall Jr. leading the Illinois Derby (G3) winner to the track with regular morning partner Trina Pasckvale aboard, Departing stood near the six-furlong gap for 10 minutes before galloping a mile.
“We may come out a little later in the morning,” Stall said. “He may stand in the little gate (in the mile chute) and then gallop a mile and a half.”
ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Tuesday afternoon.
The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner jogged at Monmouth Park Tuesday morning before being loaded onto a van.
“Everything is good,” said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who will arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon.
MYLUTE – GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s fifth-place Kentucky Derby runner Mylute walked the shedrow at Barn 29 at Churchill Downs a day after working a half-mile in 49 3/5 seconds.
“He came out of the work good and will jog in the morning,” trainer Tom Amoss said.
OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ Pimlico contingent that included three candidates for Saturday’s Preakness left the Churchill Downs barn area early Tuesday morning by van for Baltimore. The van is expected to arrive at Pimlico before 5 p.m.