Trainer Graham Motion sent the son of turf champion Leroidesanimaux out to the track at 8:30 a.m. for his first piece of exercise since the colt captured the Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Animal Kingdom walked Sunday and Monday and spent much of Tuesday in a van on the trip from Kentucky to the Motion’s barn at the training center in Cecil County, 60 miles northeast of Pimlico Race Course.
Animal Kingdom was transferred to Motion’s care during the winter and moved into his barn at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. He went directly to Kentucky for the Derby and set foot in Maryland for the first time when he stepped off the van on Tuesday.
Motion said the homebred colt will go to the track at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, and will start visiting the track at 9 a.m. beginning Friday.
While Animal Kingdom’s 2¾-lengths victory in the Derby at odds of 20-1 was visually impressive, it did not discourage competitors from lining up for the Preakness. A total of 20 horses remain on the list of those being considered for the race. The group of candidates includes seven that ran in the Kentucky Derby and 13 so-called new shooters.
The Preakness is limited to 14 starters and has drawn a capacity field twice in the past 25 years, 1992 and 2005. The race had 12 starters last year and has averaged 11 runners during the past five years, 11.3 runners in the last 10 years and 10.5 in the last 25 years.
The number of Kentucky Derby horses that compete in the Preakness varies widely from year to year. Last year, five Derby horses ran in the Preakness and the beaten Derby favorite, Lookin At Lucky, was the winner. The average number of Derby horses in the Preakness in the last 25 years is 5.4 and the average for the last 10 years is 5.0. The highest number of Derby horses in the Preakness in the last 25 years was 10 in 1999 when the Charismatic won the Derby at odds of 31-1 and in 2005, two weeks after Giacomo won the Derby at 50-1.
The post position draw will be held at Pimlico on Wednesday, May 18 at 5 p.m. and will be televised live on HRTV.
If more than 14 starters are properly nominated and pre-entered, the starters will be determined with the first seven horses given preference by the highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes. The next four starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all “non-restricted stakes,” which means those stakes whose conditions contain no restrictions other than age or sex. The remaining three starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all races.
Graded stakes earnings for the 20 Preakness candidates. The top seven qualify for a starting position in the race:
Animal Kingdom, $1,696,800, Dialed In, $840,000, Nehro, $800,000, Midnight Interlude, $600,000, Mucho Macho Man, $570,000, Shackleford $312,000, Astrology, $311,893, Santiva, $242,397, King Congie, $75,000, Flashpoint, $140,000, Mr. Commons, $120,000, Norman Asbjornson, $100,000, Ruler On Ice, $96,000, Dance City, $100,000, Sway Away, $111,500, Concealed Identity, $0, Casper’s Touch, $20,000, Isn’t He Perfect, $37,000, Harlan’s Hello, $2,000, Saratoga Red, $17,500.
Non-restricted stakes earnings for the 12 Preakness candidates who do not qualify for the field on graded stakes earnings. The top four qualify.
Santiva, $242,397, King Congie, $143,000, Flashpoint, $140,000, Mr. Commons, $120,000, Norman Asbjornson, $100,000, Ruler On Ice, $106,000, Dance City, $100,000, Sway Away, $111,500, Concealed Identity, $56,250, Casper’s Touch, $27,982, Isn’t He Perfect, $37,000, Harlan’s Hello, $2,000, Saratoga Red, $17,500.
Overall earnings for the remaining nine horses that do not earn positions in the field with graded stakes or non-restrictive stakes earnings. The top three qualify:
Norman Abjornson, $167,200, Ruler On Ice, $166,500, Dance City, $160,900, Sway Away, $126,600, Concealed Identity, $120,780, Casper’s Touch, $107,024, Isn’t He Perfect, $90,222, Harlan’s Hello, $43,094, Saratoga Red, $41,300.
ANIMAL KINGDOM – Team Valor International’s colt got a chance to look around his new home in Cecil County when he went to the track Wednesday morning.
Trainer Graham Motion said several media members visited Fair Hill to watch the Kentucky Derby winner get in some exercise on a sunny Wednesday morning. Motion welcomed the visitors at the midpoint of what has been one of the busiest weeks of his life.
“Today has been a nice day. I’m trying to get back to normal,” Motion said. “Well, some semblance of normalcy.”
ASTROLOGY/NEHRO – Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s Astrology walked the shedrow at trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn at Churchill Downs for a second day after working six furlongs in 1:12.40 in company on Monday.
Bolton told Pimlico officials that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Astrology. This will be the 13th Preakness mount for Smith who won aboard Prairie Bayou in 1993 and has four other on the board finishes.
Zayat Stables’ Nehro, runner-up to Animal Kingdom in Kentucky Derby 137, returned to the track for the first time since the Run for the Roses, galloping a mile early Wednesday morning at Churchill under Carlos Rosas.
CASPER’S TOUCH – Magdalena Racing’s Touch Gold colt is under consideration for the Preakness. The Touch Gold colt was third in his last start, the Coolmore Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on April 23.
CONCEALED IDENTITY – Trainer Eddie Gaudet said that the Federico Tesio winner co-owned by his wife, Linda, and Morris Bailey had a “nice easy gallop” the wrong way at the Bowie Training Center.
Gaudet hasn’t settled on his training schedule for next week.
“ I will either do an easy five-eighths five days before the race or blow him out the day before,” he said.
Concealed Identity currently ranks 16th on the earnings list to determine the 14 starters and Gaudet indicated he will not run if the field is full.
DANCE CITY – The Estate of Edward P. Evans’ Dance City, third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Obed Perez before the morning renovation break over a fast track at Churchill Downs.
The Todd Pletcher trainee, who worked five furlongs at Churchill last Sunday, is scheduled to have his final work for the Preakness this coming Sunday before heading to Maryland next Wednesday.
Pletcher has enlisted the services of Ramon Dominguez to partner Dance City in the Preakness. Dominguez, who has not ridden Dance City previously, has had Preakness mounts in eight of the last 10 years, including second-place finishes aboard First Dude (2010) and Scrappy T. (2005).
DIALED IN – Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In, eighth as the 5-1 Kentucky Derby favorite last Saturday, returned to the track at Churchill Downs at 7 a.m. Wednesday and jogged once around the track under exercise rider Carlos Correa and accompanied by a pony.
“The horse looks good,” Zito said. “He came out of the race in good shape. We are looking forward to another trip to the Preakness.”
Dialed In is in position to earn the biggest payday in North American racing history. His victories in the Holy Bull (G3) and Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, owned by MI Development, made him eligible for the Preakness 5.5 bonus. If he finishes first in the Preakness, he will collect the $600,000 winner’s share of the $1 million purse as well as a $5 million bonus for his owner Robert LaPenta, and $500,000 for Zito, a total of $6.1 million.
“LaPenta’s certainly thinking about it, he pays the bills,” joked Zito. “My staff and the feed guys are excited. There are a lot of people rooting for us next Saturday.”
FLASHPOINT – Peachtree Stable’s speedy colt won the Hutcheson (G2) in his second career start and finished fourth in the Florida Derby.
The son of Pomeroy was transferred from trainer Richard Dutrow to Wesley Ward in April and Ward has been impressed by the new member of his stable.
“He looks fantastic and is doing great,” Ward said. “He hasn’t taken a bad step. He hasn’t missed an oat. He’s done everything I’ve asked of him, if not more, in the mornings. I’m looking forward to the race and am excited about it.”
Ward said that the colt’s regular rider, Cornelio Velasquez, has the mount for the Preakness.
HARLAN’S HELLO/ISN’T HE PERFECT – Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said that his two New York-based colts are possible for the Preakness. Both have competed in graded stakes this year.
KING CONGIE – West Point Thoroughbred’s Badge of Silver colt galloped a mile and a quarter Wednesday morning at Belmont Park, according to trainer Tom Albertrani . King Congie breezed five furlongs in 1:01.14 on Monday.
Jockey Robby Albarado will ride King Congie in the Preakness.
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE/THE FACTOR – Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude, 16th in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning for a light gallop under Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert who is in California.
“It was lighter than usual,” Hutton said. “We just back-tracked to the frontside and then galloped from the wire to the five-eighths pole.”
Having a similar exercise was Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Friday.
Hutton also said that Fog City Stable and George Bolton’s The Factor came out of his five-furlong work of 1:00 on Tuesday in good order and walked the shedrow morning.
MR. COMMONS – The Artie Schiller colt trained by John Shirreffs finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his first try in a graded stake.
MUCHO MACHO MAN – Trainer Kathy Ritvo said the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby remains on course toward a possible run in the Preakness.
“He’s doing good, very good,” Ritvo said. “He went to the track and trained and came back good.”
Ritvo said the colt jogged and then galloped over the training track at Belmont Park.
“He’s feeling pretty good so we had to let him train a little bit,” Ritvo said. “He came out of the Derby super.”
NORMAN ASBJORNSON – Thomas McClay and Harry Nye’s Real Quiet colt galloped 1½ miles under exercise rider Tara Lewis Wednesday at the Bowie training center.
Trainer Chris Grove said that Norman Asbjornson will breeze five furlongs at Pimlico Friday morning after the renovation break. He breezed a mile in 1:40 at Pimlico on Friday, May 6.
“It will be another work over the track, possibly to put more speed back into him,” Grove said. “It is not like they are going to go 1:09 next Saturday but I want to put some speed back into him to get him fired up and ready to go.
“We have Friday to get through before we get really excited. It looks like we are in the field. He looks great and I couldn’t ask for him to be doing any better. We have to worry about the gate because he can be difficult, but with some racing luck it could be a big weekend.”
Julian Pimentel will ride in the Preakness.
RULER ON ICE – Trainer Kelly Breen said he would talk with owner George Hall about whether to run the beaten Federico Tesio favorite in the Preakness. The Roman Ruler gelding has a 2-2-1 record in six career starts.
SANTIVA – Tom Walters’ Santiva jogged once around the track at Churchill Downs shortly after it opened at 6 a.m. with Brendan Walsh, assistant to trainer Eddie Kenneally up.
“We just jogged a turn this morning,” Walsh said of Santiva, who ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby. “He came out of the race great, but I don’t know what they are doing with regard to the Preakness. We’ll probably have an idea by the end of the week.”
SARATOGA RED – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas contacted MJC stakes coordinator Coley Blind this week and said the Eddington colt still remains under consideration for the Preakness.
SHACKLEFORD – Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford jogged two miles at Churchill Downs shortly after 9:30 Wednesday morning with exercise rider Faustino Ramos up.
Fourth in the Kentucky Derby, Shackleford is eligible for a $550,000 consolation bonus in the Preakness 5.5 should he win the Preakness.
“Really? I had no idea,” trainer Dale Romans said of the bonus that Shackleford is eligible for because he participated in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and ran second in the Florida Derby (G1).
“So, how’d he look,” Romans asked an on-looker as Shackleford jogged past.
“Like $500,000,” the observer said.
“I think so, too,” Romans said.
Dialed In, by virtue of victories in the Holy Bull (G3) and Florida Derby is eligible for a $5.5 million bonus with a Preakness victory. Two horses in addition to Shackleford, would have been eligible for the consolation bonus: Comma to the Top and To Honor and Serve.
Comma to the Top, who suffered a bone chip in an ankle in the Kentucky Derby, was eligible because he had run in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) and the San Felipe (G2) and finished second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). To Honor and Serve, who is sidelined because of a strained suspensory ligament in his left front, had run third in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby.
SWAY AWAY – Batman Stable, Philip Lebherz, Cindy Olsen, Janet Sharp and Glen Wallace et al’s Sway Away, sitting on the Preakness bubble with $111,000 in graded stakes earnings and $126,600 in total earnings, galloped a mile and half at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Keith Davis before the morning renovation break.
Trained by Jeff Bonde, Sway Away was left out of Kentucky Derby 137 because of insufficient graded stakes earnings, a total that left him 21st among the entrants in a field limited to 20.
Instead of running for the roses Saturday, Sway Away worked for the Preakness with a six-furlong move in 1:11.60. Miguel Carranza, assistant to Bonde, said the Afleet Alex colt would work Saturday or Sunday, depending on weather.
Garrett Gomez is scheduled to ride Sway Away in the Preakness.
MORE THAN 530 HORSES NOMINATED TO PREAKNESS WEEK STAKES
While the Preakness is rightfully the centerpiece of the Pimlico spring meeting, fifteen other stakes (six graded) will provide a weekend full of excitement for racing fans. A total of 532 horses were nominated to those added-money races.
The $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) tops the May 20 card that features six other stakes races. Twenty-eight three-year-old fillies were nominated to the Black-Eyed Susan, including Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Plum Pretty. Fifty fillies were nominated to the $75,000 Miss Preakness Stakes. Thirty-nine horses were nominated to the $75,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint. Thirty-six female turf specialists were nominated to the $75,000 The Very One Stakes, while twenty-four were nominated to the $75,000 Skipat Stakes. Thirty-seven three-year-old fillies were nominated to the $75,000 Hilltop Stakes and another twenty-four to the $25,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for Maryland-breds.
The May 21 undercard features eight added money races, including five graded. Thirty-three top grass specialists were entered in the $200,000 Dixie Stakes (G2). Forty-two older horses were nominated to the William Donald Schaefer (G3). The $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) features thirty-two nominations. Thirty-three fillies and mares were nominated to the $100,000 Gallorette Handicap (G3). Thirty-one fillies and mares were nominated to the $100,000 Allaire duPont Distaff (G3). Fifty-eight three-year-old sprinters were nominated to the $100,000 Chick Lang. Forty-four turf specialists were nominated to the $100,000 James Murphy. There were twenty-one horses on the list for the $25,000 Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap.