The public Infield will be open for the Preakness Prep Infield Party from noon to 6 p.m. with concerts by The Plain White T’s and Sons of the Radio in the beer garden. Tickets for the concert are $30, including a bottomless mug for those 21 and over. Unlimited soda and water will be available for all ages.
Ruler On Ice (2-1) reaches Baltimore after starts at Aqueduct, Parx Racing and Sunland Park this year, including an allowance a victory and a closing third in the Sunland Derby (Grade III). Jose Valdivia, who was aboard for all three starts, keeps the ride for trainer Kelly Breen. Breen entered Ruler on Ice in the Kentucky Derby, but the son of Roman Ruler ranked 22nd on the graded earnings list and did not make the field.
J W Blue (5-2) comes to Pimlico after wintering at Oaklawn Park where he was an “improving” fifth and sixth in the Grade II Rebel and the Grade I Arkansas Derby. Joe Rocco Jr. has ridden the Tony Dutrow trainee in his past four starts. Dutrow won last year’s Tesio with Bank the Eight.
Iscar (5-1) comes into the Tesio on a two-race winning streak, breaking his maiden at Aqueduct and then taking allowance at Parx Racing. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is a son of Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness winner. Erick Rodriguez has the riding assignment.
Speedy Moonlite Grinder (5-1) rides a three-race win streak into Saturday’s feature, two at Parx and one at Penn National. Angel Rodriguez rides for trainer Bernie Houghton, a former racing official with the Maryland Jockey Club.
Concealed Identity (6-1) won the Maryland Juvenile Championship in December and broke a three-race off the board streak with an allowance score here April 15 at the Tesio distance. Eddie Gaudet trains the Smarty Jones gelding. Sheldon Russell rides him again.
“They wanted me to sit him handy in his last start and see if he had anything,” Russell said. “He definitely had more in the tank. This is a step up but he looks competitive. I think J W Blue is the horse to beat. He made a nice closing move in the Arkansas Derby. There is some speed in the race. Hopefully we get something to run at. He’ll be behind us so hopefully we can get a jump and beat him to the wire.”
Argentine Talisman (10-1) won his previous two outings, the first at Gulfstream and the second at Keeneland at odds of 8-1 and 10-1 respectively. Luis Garcia rides for Michael Matz.
Balto More (15-1) broke his maiden here with a 13-length victory April 23. The Robin Graham trainee is ridden by Mario Pino.
Sixteen of the previous 30 Tesio winners competed in Maryland’s signature race, including 1983 winner Deputed Testamony, runner-up Oliver’s Twist (1995) and third place finishers Broad Brush (1986), Rock Point (1989) and Icabad Crane (2008).
FORMER MARYLAND STAR NAPRAVNIK WITH KENTUCKY DERBY MOUNT
Breen will not be in Baltimore to saddle Ruler on Ice in the Tesio. Instead, the New Jersey-based conditioner will be at Churchill Downs to saddle Pants On Fire in the Kentucky Derby. The Louisiana Derby winner will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who began her career at Pimlico Race Course in June 2005 just days after finishing her junior year at Hereford High School in Baltimore County.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Napravnik, of her 20-1 morning line shot. “I really think we are going into the race the right way. He is very easy going and good to get along with. Not only am I riding in the Derby but I have a legitimate shot. One of the advantages is that he’ll be one of the freshest horses in the race.”
The 23-year-old will be the sixth female rider to have Derby mount less than six years after guiding Ringofdiamonds to victory on June 9, 2005 in her first career mount. She won five riding titles at the major Maryland tracks, including all four meetings in 2006, before moving her tack to Delaware Park three years ago. She recently finished atop the standings at Fair Grounds and ranks in the top seven nationally in both victories and earnings this year.
“This is happening a lot faster in my career than I ever expected,” added Napravnik, who has been profiled this week on the CBS Evening News and USA Today.
On May 20, she will return to Pimlico as a headliner in the female jockey Challenge on Black-Eyed Susan Day, featuring six of the world’s top female jockeys competing in four races with points awarded based upon their finish.
“I am really excited to come to Maryland for Preakness weekend,” said Napravnik, who still owns a home in the Baltimore suburb of Glen Burnie. “If there is one race I always wanted to ride and win it is the Preakness, because it is home. It is where I got started and there are so many people who supported me. That would really be special. Not that winning the Derby wouldn’t be spectacular, but if we would be lucky enough to run well this Saturday and come back in two weeks in the Preakness it would be over the top. Pimlico is one of my favorite tracks.”
Only two female riders have had Preakness mounts: Patti Cooksey (Tajawa, 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (Looming, 1994). Both will be riding on May 20 in the second annual Legends For the Cure Race™, which showcases retired female riders in a pari-mutuel race.