Undefeated Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Justify walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs on Wednesday before taking a van ride to the airport for a flight to Baltimore ahead of Saturday’s 143rd edition of the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
The Bob Baffert trainee was expected to touch down at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport around 1:30 p.m. (ET). A Baltimore City Police Department would then escort the van carrying the Derby winner to Pimlico.
“There are some nice horses in there. It’s not a gimmee,” Baffert warned from Pimlico, where he awaited his charge’s arrival. “(Good Magic) ran a big race (when second in the Kentucky Derby). He’s going to be tough.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rides Justify in the Preakness.
Champion and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic galloped about 1 1/4 miles over Pimlico’s muddy track for the second straight day on Wednesday.
The Chad Brown-trained son of Curlin had regular exercise rider Walter Malasquez in the irons. Traveling assistant Baldo Hernandez said he was “very pleased” with the gallop, describing it as “excellent.”
Brown will attempt to score back-to-back Preakness victories after saddling Cloud Computing to a head triumph in last year’s running.
“I would rather it be a dry track,” Brown said Tuesday in regards to the track condition for Preakness 143. “He’s proven he can handle the off track at Churchill fine, but I don’t know, I just feel like a drier track would be a fairer situation for everyone involved. It’s hard to say how the race will set up until they draw posts and such. It will be just fine if it’s an off track, but it would be my preference that the track be dry.
“(The off track) is just another little thing we could have changed about the Derby to maybe help us turn the tables,” he added. “You don’t want to run the same exact race where everyone runs the same exact way and on the same exact track. Obviously, we already have some changes here: We’re at a different track on two weeks’ rest, with different posts, and a slightly different distance. To run on a dry track would be nice as an additional something different.”
Jose Ortiz stays in Good Magic’s saddle for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has two hopefuls going to the Preakness, and both Bravazo and Sporting Chance jogged one lap and galloped clockwise over Pimlico’s muddy track as well as schooled in the indoor paddock on Wednesday.
Bravazo captured the Risen Star Stakes (G2) earlier this season and was sixth in the Kentucky Derby last out. Sporting Chance scored in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) as a juvenile and has competed four times as a sophomore, running fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.
“We didn’t do a lot with that track the way it was,” Lukas said. “If we’re going to do something serious on that racetrack we’ve got to get paid for it.”
Lukas is currently tied with Baffert in terms of Preakness wins. The pair have each won six of the Triple Crown’s second jewel and are second on the career wins list, one behind Robert Wyndham Walden.
“I think he’s going to have to show speed, like everybody,” Lukas said of Sporting Chance, who will be ridden by Luis Contreras. “In an eight-horse field you’re just going to have to turn the jock loose and see. But he’s got tactical speed. Let’s see how he handles it. I think he likes the mud.
“His best race was the Risen Star, where he went right on the pace,” the Hall of Famer continued, speaking of Bravazo. “Not everybody can be just off the pace. Something has got to give. Everybody will tell you they’d like to be there, but the horses will have the facts. I think we’re probably as quick as most of the them, so we’ll have to use a little judgment on the rider part.”
Luis Saez takes the mount on Bravazo for the first time in this spot.
Grade 1-placed Lone Sailor flew out of Louisville, Kentucky, with Justify and Quip on Wednesday following a final gallop under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. Exercise rider Maurice Sanchez accompanied the bay colt.
The Tom Amoss-conditioned son of Majestic Warrior rallied to finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby and is expected to train Thursday morning at Pimlico.
Lone Sailor races in the colors of G M B Racing, the nom de course of Gayle Benson. The colt was named for her husband, Tom Benson, a Navy and World War II veteran who in 2007 was awarded the United States Navy Memorial Foundation’s Lone Sailor Award. Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and NBA Pelicans, passed away on March 15 at age 90. One day after his March 23 funeral, Lone Sailor just missed winning Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Derby (G2) by a neck.
“That was very special to me,” Amoss said. “I went to Mr. Benson’s funeral on Friday and was really moved by all the people there and all the well-wishers when we left the St. Louis Cathedral that day. It was a beautiful day in New Orleans, one of those spring days I’ll never forget. And that experience is one I’ll never forget. To go out the next day and almost win the Louisiana Derby, he was certainly on all our minds.”
Amoss’ dad, James Amoss, is also a WWII Navy veteran and the trainer is hoping the Preakness’ proximity to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, could be an good sign for Saturday.
“Look, Annapolis is not far from there,” Amoss said of Pimlico’s Baltimore location. “My dad was an ensign in the Navy during World War II, and the World War II museum is in New Orleans. Not only from my father telling me but (also) visiting that museum, the young men of that generation were cut from a different cloth. When the country needed them, to a man, they were ready to go.
“I’ll never forget my father telling me about being a senior at boarding school in South Carolina. A freshman came running out of the dorm and said that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Not a one of them could have told you what Pearl Harbor even was, but they all went to sign up the very next day to fight for their country.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call on Lone Sailor for the first time in the Preakness.
Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner and Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Quip galloped a mile at Keeneland Wednesday before leaving for Pimlico with Justify and Lone Sailor.
“I have no idea,” trainer Rodolphe Brisset said in regards to Quip’s training schedule ahead of the Preakness. “I have to take a good look at the track. It sounds like the weather hasn’t been nice over there.”
Florent Geroux has ridden Quip in all five of his career starts and will be aboard Saturday as well.
Grade 3-placed Diamond King jogged a mile over Parx Racing’s muddy main track Wednesday morning before shipping to Pimlico for trainer John Servis.
“We got a lot of rain and the track was a little hard, so I just jogged him,” Servis said. “He’s doing great. He’s ready to go.”
Servis will attempt to become only the fourth trainer since 1909 to win the Preakness in his first two tries. The conditioner prevailed in his debut with 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, but hasn’t had a runner in the second jewel of the Triple Crown since.
Winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes on April 21 at Laurel Park, Diamond King could try out Pimlico’s track on Thursday but isn’t scheduled for gate or paddock schooling.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with him yet,” Servis said. “I’ll probably gallop him, especially if the track is decent. But, he’s great. He doesn’t need much.”
Javier Castellano, who guided Cloud Computing to a head victory in last year’s Preakness, has the call on Diamond King.
Tenfold, fifth while making his stakes bow in the Arkansas Derby last out on April 14, walked the shedrow at Pimlico on Wednesday for trainer Steve Asmussen, one day after arriving for the Preakness Stakes.
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi said the Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred is likely to gallop soon after the track opens on Thursday and scheduled to stand in the starting gate on Friday.
“It’s a tall order,” Winchell Thoroughbreds Bloodstock Manager David Fiske said of beating Justify in the Preakness. “I think Steve’s already said that we’ll get some read on where our guy fits in the universe of three-year-old colts this year. Typically, you don’t run away from a race that has one standout. That’s not to pooh-pooh last year’s two-year-old champion. But it would be OK just to get some black-type in a classic. I think he’s blossomed a bit since the Arkansas Derby.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. piloted Tenfold to his initial two victories and takes back the mount on Saturday.