From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Firing Line went to the track for the second straight morning at Churchill for a jog under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
Accompanying Firing Line on his morning activity was Perfect Drift. Now working as a pony, the 16-year-old Perfect Drift finished third behind War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, Firing Line is scheduled to resume galloping Friday morning.
Gomez, who was part of trainer Doug O’Neill’s team with I’ll Have Another for the 2012 Triple Crown, has been getting on Firing Line for a little more than a month.
“He was good this morning, a lot of energy and feeling good,” said Gomez, who missed Wednesday’s jogging session because he was in California. “He has a lot of confidence in himself. He is so professional. He is the kind of horse that makes you look good.
“He stood on the frontside for 10 minutes with horses jumping all around him and he didn’t pay any attention to them. He has held his weight since the Derby and (assistant trainer) Carlos (Santamaria) says he is eating good.”
Lukas-Trained Mr. Z ‘Probable’ for Middle Jewel
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas reported that Zayat Stables’ Mr. Z, the 13th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, has been upgraded to probable for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“Mr. (Ahmed) Zayat is going to evaluate the field and the quality of it, but I would say we are probable,” said Lukas, a six-time winner of the Preakness. “The horse is doing really well. He came out of the race beautifully and we will read him throughout the week.”
Mr. Z galloped early Thursday morning with regular exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard.
A maiden winner in his debut and stakes-placed seven times, Mr. Z’s Baltimore target would be the Preakness and not the $100,000 Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles.
“No Sir Barton,” Lukas said. “It is either the Preakness or look for something else down the road.”
Meanwhile, John Oxley’s Danzig Moon, fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile early Thursday morning under William Cano.
Norman Casse, assistant to his father/trainer Mark Casse said, “No decision (has been made on the Preakness). It hasn’t been talked about.”
Stewart ‘Thinking’ about Preakness for Tale of Verve
Trainer Dallas Stewart said he is thinking about a Preakness bid for Charles Fipke’s homebred Tale of Verve, who was entered in the Kentucky Derby but did not draw into the race from the also-eligible list.
Tale of Verve broke his maiden going the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles in his most recent start at Keeneland on April 23.
“He had a perfect setup for the Derby (with the win at Keeneland),” Stewart said. “What a coup that would have been. We wanted to run. I thought he would have run well. He had been training well here with two five-eighths works in :59 and change before that.”
Tale of Verve worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 here Monday and is slated for another breeze Sunday or Monday.
“He is a come-from-behind horse; a big good-looking horse like (2014 Derby runner-up) Commanding Curve,” Stewart said. “I think the Belmont may be better for him but he needs to run before then. He may run in the Preakness. I’ll talk it over with the owner.”
Stewart has started three horses in the Preakness with Macho Again finishing second in 2008, Dollar Bill finishing fourth in 2001 and Kimberlite Pipe eighth in 1999.
“I can’t think about what other people say,” Stewart said of his colt’s chances. “You don’t know until you try.”
Stewart also said that Lemon Drop Title, a maiden winner at Churchill Downs last week, is under consideration for the Sir Barton on May 16.
Grand Bili Possible New Shooter for Preakness
After following up his most impressive debut victory with a strong second-place finish in a Gulfstream Park allowance on April 9, Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Grand Bili will travel to Baltimore with an eye toward the 140th Preakness Stakes, according to trainer Gustavo Delgado.
“He will go to Baltimore and run next Saturday, either in the Preakness or another stake for 3-year-olds on the same day (the $100,000 Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles or the $100,000 Chick Lang at 6 furlongs),” Delgado said.
The Ontario-bred son of City Zip opened eyes when he scored a ¾-length triumph over the highly touted Tennessee, a first-time starter for trainer Todd Pletcher, in his career debut on Feb. 1, putting pressure on that rival throughout before running him down in the stretch. The gray then returned two months later to face another highly regarded Pletcher runner in Chipit, who broke his own maiden at first asking four weeks prior. This time it was Chipit who had the ¾-length advantage at the wire; Grand Bili fought on gamely but was second best.
Still, the performance was enough to convince Delgado that his charge was ready to take the next step. Grand Bili will ship to Pimlico next week. He’s breezed twice since his last start, most recently working five furlongs in 1:03.00 on May 1 at Gulfstream Park West.
“He’s doing well. He’s been training steadily since his last race,” Delgado said.
Delgado will also send Grand Tito to Maryland to run on Preakness weekend. The 5-year-old gelding, who notably came a neck from defeating next-out Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) winner Mshawish in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) on Jan. 10, will run in the Longines Dixie Stakes (G2) on the Preakness undercard. Grand Tito most recently finished second in the Miami Mile (G3) at Gulfstream on April 25.
Other probables for the Preakness are Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Divining Rod and Federico Tesio victor Bodhisattva. Trainer Todd Pletcher is monitoring the training of Materiality, Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge and Stanford to determine their respective statuses for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.