About 2,650 miles from Old Hilltop at Santa Anita Park, Caracortado punched his ticket to the Preakness with a bullet seven furlong work with regular rider Paul Atkinson. The son of Cat Dreams stopped the clock in 1:24.60, the faster of two works at the distance. The gelding won the first five races of his career, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes, but has not raced since a troubled fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 3.
Machowsky, who plans on arriving in Baltimore Tuesday night, gained national attention six years ago with Southern Image, one of the nation’s elite older horses. He won both the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Grade 1 Pimlico Special during the 2004 campaign, but Caracortado has brought the 44-year-old onto an even bigger stage.
“I’m pretty confident in the way he’s going,” added Machowsky, who has not been to Pimlico since Southern Image’s big score in the Special. “I think he’s going to bring his A plus game to the race the way he’s training right now. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
It will be the first Triple Crown mount for Atkinson, who will turn 41 five days after the Preakness.
“He’s never ridden this horse poorly and the horse has always run well for him,” said Machowsky. “A good horse will make any trainer, owner or jockey look good and Paul’s never had the opportunity to ride a horse like him. There’s so many trainers who don’t get the opportunity to get a horse like this. I always say its 80 percent the horse and 10 percent the jock and 10 percent the trainer.”
At Churchill Downs this morning, First Dude became a confirmed starter in the Preakness with a bullet, five-furlong work in 1:00.60 under Tammy Fox after the morning renovation break. Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Stephen Got Even in fractions of :11.60, :23.40, :35.20, :47.60 and out six furlongs in 1:14.80. First Dude started his work at the half-mile pole and went to the seven-eighths pole.
“I was very pleased with the work. It’s on to the Preakness,” trainer Dale Romans said.
The move, accomplished over a track labeled as fast, was the best of 13 at the distance. It was First Dude’s second bullet work since he finished third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 10. First Dude had worked five furlongs over a muddy track in 1:00.80 on April 26, the best of 26 at the distance that day.
Romans’ other Preakness probable, third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Paddy O’Prado, galloped a mile and a half after First Dude’s work.
Also at Churchill, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver galloped a mile and an eighth. Trainer Todd Pletcher viewed the morning exercise from the frontside of the track.
“He galloped really, really well,” said Pletcher, who arrived in Louisville Friday night and was seeing the Derby winner on the track for the first time since his triumph in last Saturday’s Run for the Roses.
“His energy level is very good and he has rebounded quickly. You always hope for that coming back in two weeks.”
Super Saver, who gave jockey Calvin Borel his third Kentucky Derby victory in the past four years, may work Monday.
“Right now, I am leaning toward working him,” Pletcher said. “I want to see how he gallops tomorrow, but most likely it will be an easy half-mile.”
Pletcher’s other Preakness starter, Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, galloped a mile and three-eighths.
“He will work five-eighths in company in the morning,” Pletcher said of the Grade 3 Derby Trial runner-up. “He is training well.”
Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break under exercise rider Peter Hutton. Trainer Bob Baffert has yet to make a firm decision on Lookin At Lucky’s Preakness participation but said Saturday morning, “I’ll know by Monday.”
Baffert also addressed the rumor mill surrounding jockey Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard Lookin At Lucky in all nine of his starts.
“I am still not sure if I am going to run and if I don’t run, I don’t need to make a switch,” Baffert said. “There are a lot of rumors out there. What happened is I told Martin Garcia’s agent (Jim Pegram) not to do anything for Preakness Day because I might have other horses running there that day.”
One horse Baffert is expected to take to Pimlico is Quiet Invader, who is nominated to the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes. Garcia, who was aboard Conveyance for Baffert in the Derby, has ridden Quiet Invader in all five of his starts. Pimlico officials also expect Baffert to bring Ventana for the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap.
Nick Zito is also expected to make a final decision regarding Jackson Bend, who galloped a mile and three-eighths. The son of Hear No Evil won five consecutive races in 2009 then produced three straight second places finishes in graded stakes (Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth & Wood Memorial) before a 12th place finish in the Derby.
Hurricane Ike, the Grade 3 Derby Trial winner two weeks ago, is scheduled to work Monday morning at Churchill.
Pleasant Prince, the Grade 1 Florida Derby runner-up, will work five furlongs at Keeneland Sunday morning with regular rider Julien Leparoux. Trainer Wesley Ward praised his jockey, the reigning Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey.
“I have a lot of confidence in that rider,” said Ward, a former rider. “He knows the horse very well and the horse has run very, very well for that jock, who always seems to be able to place him wherever he wants. The horse has got tactical speed where he can lay up close if he’s put in that situation.”
The May 12 Tex Sutton flight, which will leave Los Angeles at 5 a.m. Eastern, is scheduled to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 1:30 p.m. after a stop in Louisville. The flight could feature 10 Preakness starters: Caracortado, Super Saver, Aikenite, Paddy O’Prado, First Dude, Lookin At Lucky, Jackson Bend, Hurricane Ike, Pleasant Prince and Yawanna Twist, a Rick Dutrow trainee under consideration.
Wayne Lukas, a five-time Preakness winner, will be the first to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn a day earlier with Dublin and Northern Giant. It will be the 11th time during his Hall of Fame career that Lukas has had multiple starters in the middle jewel. Lukas plans to work each colt either Sunday or Monday.
Schoolyard Dreams will be vanned to Pimlico from New Jersey the day before the race, according to trainer Derek Ryan. The son of Stephen Got Even, who finished ahead of Super Saver in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby in mid-March, worked a five furlong bullet at Monmouth Park Thursday morning.
Tony Dutrow reported that A Little Warm, second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, would work in the “next day or two” at Delaware Park. The Stormin Fever colt has finished first or second in six of seven starts.
Trainer Alexis Barba reported she would be meeting with Ellen and Peter Johnson, the owners of Make Music for Me, Saturday afternoon to discuss the next start for the Derby fourth place finisher. The son of Bernstein is expected to compete in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
“It looks very unlikely that we’re running in the Preakness,” Barba said.
The post position draw for the Preakness will be held at Pimlico (Turfside Terrace) on May 12 at 5 p.m. Eastern and televised live on HRTV. HRTV will be on-site Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well.
The Preakness headlines a 13-race card three days later. NBC Sports has the live coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Preakness will be 6:15 p.m.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) and SIRIUS XM Radio will be high atop Pimlico with Preakness shows. HRRN has 20 affiliates throughout the nation for Preakness broadcast, including Baltimore’s WBAL Radio (AM 1090). WBAL’s pre-race coverage begins at noon from the jocks porch.
WBAL-TV will have a live presence at Pimlico on Preakness day for the tenth consecutive year, starting with live weather and stakes barn cut-ins during its morning show at 5 a.m. Baltimore’s NBC affiliate will have a live preview show from 2:00-4:30 p.m. leading into NBC’s coverage then a post race show whenever the network signs off until 8 p.m.
$1 MILLION PREAKNESS STAKES (GRADE 1)
HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY EXPECTED ARRIVAL
Super Saver Todd Pletcher Calvin Borel May 12
Aikenite Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano May 12
Dublin D. Wayne Lukas Terry Thompson May 11
Northern Giant D. Wayne Lukas TBA May 11
Paddy O’Prado Dale Romans Kent Desormeaux May 12
First Dude Dale Romans Ramon Dominguez May 12
Caracortado Mike Machowsky Paul Atkinson May 12
Hurricane Ike John Sadler Robby Albarado May 12
Pleasant Prince Wesley Ward Julien Leparoux May 12
Schoolyard Dreams Derek Ryan Eibar Coa May 14
HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY EXPECTED ARRIVAL
Lookin At Lucky Bob Baffert TBA May 12
Jackson Bend Nick Zito Mike Smith May 12
A Little Warm Tony Dutrow John Velazquez TBA
HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY EXPECTED ARRIVAL
Yawanna Twist Rick Dutrow TBA May 12