Ward expecting speed from Pablo Del Monte
California Chrome, a 1 3/4-length winner of the Kentucky Derby, will wheel back off a 14-day rest in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. Ward is expecting Pablo Del Monte to break running from the starting gate, in attempt to establish forward positioning, following his colt's 35-day freshening.
"My colt's got speed and historically, for Aloma's Ruler (1982 Preakness winner) and horses like that, speed has been to their advantage and they have taken it from gate to wire," Ward explained. "There have been a lot of gate-to-wire winners. Everything is kind of coming together right now and I really don't want to change anything. That's why I kept the horse here until Wednesday. Everything is looking great."
The trainer originally planned to ship Pablo Del Monte on Monday before changing course this week.
By Giant's Causeway, Pablo Del Monte debuted with a victory in April 2013 and won his next start, an allowance race at Keeneland in October. Ward moved him into stakes company, where he has been competitive but winless in four tries. Pablo Del Monte set the early pace in the Grade 1 Blue Grass and finished 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Dance With Fate.
Ward decided to skip the Kentucky Derby after the colt drew into the field from the also-eligible list and was assigned Post 20, opting to focus on the Preakness. Pablo Del Monte will be Ward's third Preakness runner and Jeffrey Sanchez will pick up the mount.
In other Preakness news:
Assistant trainer Norman Casse indicated the colt would visit the starting gate Wednesday as part of his morning routine. Dynamic Impact will retain the services of Miguel Mena, who will riding in his first Preakness.
Ring Weekend was gelded following his two-year-old campaign, in which he finished third twice in three starts.
"He was quite a tricky horse to be around. We also felt that perhaps he was showing more in the morning than he was in the afternoon," trainer Graham Motion said. "It gave us reason to think there was more there and perhaps getting his mind more focused would help. Also, he had one testicle that was not properly descended. We had in the back of our minds that it could be bothering him."
Ring Weekend made a good showing in his 2014 debut, finishing second in a Gulfstream turf race, before breaking his maiden on dirt on February 8.
"The first time we ran him he was still green, a little cheeky, perhaps, when he ran on the grass at Gulfstream that day. The second time he really put it together," Motion said. "That was a big transformation for him. Even this morning, we were commenting on what a different horse he is in the morning and how he is a more professional workhorse. I think it's an ongoing thing for him."
Ring Weekend followed up his maiden victory with a triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby and a second-place finish in the Calder Derby. He was knocked out of a trip to the Kentucky Derby by a fever that cost him a few days of training, but showed no ill effects from the illness last Saturday when he breezing six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 at Fair Hill.
Funny Cide was the last gelding to win the Preakness in 2003, following up his Kentucky Derby victory with a 9 3/4-length romp in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
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