From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Thursday that he expects both Kentucky Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah and third-place finisher Dortmund to be starters in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
Following his standard approach – which has produced five Preakness victories – Baffert’s colts have stayed at Churchill Downs with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes. Baffert headed back to his home in California after the Derby and will return to Louisville, Ky. this weekend to supervise final preparations for the Preakness. They will ship to Baltimore on Wednesday, May 13.
Speaking on an NTRA conference call, Baffert said the colts have come out of the Derby in great shape and probably will not have a timed work before the Preakness. He altered his plans a bit, though, and will have them gallop instead of jog on Friday because they have recovered so quickly from the Derby.
“They jogged today and everything went really well,” Baffert said. “They’ll go to the track and gallop. I’m going to get there Sunday. I really doubt if I’m going to breeze them. I don’t think they need any breezing. They’re pretty much ready to roll. I’m just going to keep them strong, healthy and happy.”
Baffert’s Kentucky staff sent him videos of the colts on Wednesday and he liked what he saw.
“Pharoah looks great, his color is good,” Baffert said. “Dortmund looks good.”
American Pharoah and Dortmund will be Baffert’s 16th and 17th Preakness starters. In addition to his five wins, he has a second and a third in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. The Churchill-to-Pimlico move the week of the race has worked well for him through the years.
“It’s a good position to be in,” he said. “We’re used to it, so we know what to expect when we get there. Nothing is new. We’re just going to enjoy it, take it in and hopefully we get lucky again and win another Preakness.”
Baffert said that having the top two choices in the Derby field was tough on him.
“I knew I had this loaded gun with these two great bullets in it. I was just thinking that I need to win this race,” he said.
Baffert, 62, said he looked at it as an opportunity that could not be wasted.
“I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life in the last few days leading up to that race,” he said.
Baffert has won the Preakness with his three previous Derby winners, Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). This will be the first time that he saddles a stablemate against a Derby winner and possibly prevent American Pharoah from taking the second step toward a Triple Crown. Dortmund, owned by Kaleem Shah, set the pace for a mile and showed grit to preserve third in the Derby.
“He deserves another chance. He ran his race,” Baffert said. “It’s a little bit shorter; he might like that. In my barn, everyone gets an equal, fair shot. Kaleem told me, ‘If you think he’s going to run well, run him.’ He left it up to me, so it’s actually my call. As long as I feel comfortable that when I lead one up there I want to make sure I’m not going to embarrass somebody and he’s going to run his race. As long as he looks great on Monday and Tuesday I don’t see why not give him another chance at it. He’s a very good horse.”