February 3, 2023

Royal Mo works for Preakness as new shooters begin to line up

Royal Mo, shown training Derby Week, has a half-brother by Malibu Moon in the sale (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Royal Mo and Master Plan, the Kentucky Derby (G1) also-eligibles who didn’t get the chance to compete on Saturday, both recorded works at Churchill Downs Sunday morning.

Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner Royal Mo took to the track early, around 6:30 a.m. (EDT), by which point the surface was fast. Under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado, the Uncle Mo colt was caught in fractions of :13.20, :23.60, :38 and :52.40 en route to finishing five furlongs in 1:05, the most leisurely time of the day at the distance.

The Preakness (G1) is next for the 17-hand sophomore, who just missed the cut for the Kentucky Derby after a hard-trying third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). But his Santa Anita Derby-winning stablemate Gormley, ninth in the Run for the Roses, will journey back home to Santa Anita.

“Royal Mo will ship to Baltimore Tuesday,” trainer John Shirreffs confirmed. “Gary Stevens (who was scheduled to ride him in the Kentucky Derby) will ride him in the Preakness.”

Also definite for the Preakness is Lexington S. (G3) winner Senior Investment, with regular rider Channing Hill retaining the mount.

“He’s pretty well keyed up for Baltimore,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Senior Investment, who is scheduled to work at Keeneland Monday.

“He’s done extremely well since (the Lexington). I think he’s got an outside chance. There’s not that much separation from this bunch of three-year-olds right now, from what I can see, other than maybe the winner yesterday. (Always Dreaming) was extremely impressive. He laid really close to a fast pace and he kept on going.”

Multiplier, who notched a 104 BRIS Speed rating in his Illinois Derby (G3) victory, is mulling the Preakness.

“I’m going to talk to the owners (American Equistock) over the next few days,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “It is an option to look at.”

Other “new shooters” in the Preakness mix include Conquest Mo Money, whose runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby (G1) took on added resonance after Lookin at Lee and Classic Empire ran second and fourth in the Kentucky Derby; Cloud Computing, second in the Gotham (G3) and third in the Wood Memorial (G2); and Aidan O’Brien’s Lancaster Bomber. He’s one of two in mind for Ballydoyle, according to the Preakness notes, but the only one explicitly mentioned. Last year’s Dewhurst (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner-up has finished fourth in the UAE Derby (G2) and in Saturday’s 2000 Guineas (G1).

Master Plan, stablemate of Derby star Always Dreaming, sped a half-mile at Churchill in a bullet :48.20. Third in the UAE Derby (G2) last out, the Todd Pletcher pupil is on course for this Saturday’s Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park, a stepping stone to the June 10 Belmont S. (G1).

Pletcher’s Malagacy was originally entertaining the Preakness after skipping the Derby. Daily Racing Form reports, however, that Malagacy is now “doubtful” for the middle jewel.

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