image003From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Lael Stables’ Divining Rod, winner of the Lexington (G3) April 11 at Keeneland, remains on target to make his next start in the $1.5 million Preakness (G1) Saturday, May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.

Based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., trainer Arnaud Delacour said Monday that the son of Grade 1 winner Tapit is doing well and expected to challenge Kentucky Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“The horse is doing very well. He breezed on Saturday and right now I am leaning toward the Preakness,” Delacour said. “I think he’s great. I don’t want to jinx myself, but at the moment he’s doing very well. He has matured quite a bit and he understands more now what’s going on.”

Second by a neck in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) this winter, Divining Rod rated off the pace before drawing away to a three-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Lexington, his first stakes win.

“The race in the Lexington was a very good confidence booster for him,” Delacour said. “I think he put it all together, that he needed to relax and finish, and I think that really helped him.

Divining Rod has had two works at Fair Hill since the Lexington, both five furlongs, including a breeze over the dirt track in 1:00.80 on Derby day, second-fastest of 18 horses.

“He started nice and easy, he was relaxed and he really kicked on at the end,” Delacour said. “That’s the kind of work that you like to see when you go to a race that’s going longer. I was very pleased with it.”

Delacour said Divining Rod will work once more this weekend at Fair Hill for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, which could draw as many as six horses from the Derby including second and third-place finishers Firing Line and Dortmund.

Julien Leparoux rode Divining Rod in the Lexington. In the Derby, Leparoux was aboard John Oxley’s Danzig Moon, one of the horses under Preakness consideration.

“The first three horses I would say are going to be very tough to take on, but the thing is they all had a pretty hard race,” Delacour said. “They all had to fight for it. I didn’t see any of them having to do it easy, so I hope that they’re going to maybe be a little bit tired coming back in two weeks.”