Preakness notes: Who’s in, who’s out
Preakness 2015. Photo by Laurie Asseo
by Frank Vespe
With less than a week until the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, the shape of the field came into clearer focus Sunday, though some decisions remained unmade.
- Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist has been at Pimlico most of the week, and all systems are go for a Preakness start. Consider him CONFIRMED, meaning he is expected to enter the race barring unforeseen circumstances.
- Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico early this evening after shipping up from Kentucky, with trainer Keith Desormeaux to follow a day later. Barring mishap, he is CONFIRMED.
- Kentucky Derby show horse Gun Runner remains on the fence pending a half-mile breeze Monday. “And we’ll see how he comes out of that Tuesday,” said David Fiske, longtime racing and bloodstock manager for co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds. Trainer Steve Asmussen has his bases covered, with planes reservations both Tuesday and Wednesday for his charge. Consider him POSSIBLE.
- Lani, ninth in the Kentucky Derby, impressed his connections enough with his wide rally from the rear that he is now CONFIRMED for the Preakness Stakes.
- Cherry Wine, who did not draw into the Kentucky Derby from the also-eligible list, is CONFIRMED and is scheduled to ship to Pimlico Wedneday. The Paddy O’Prado colt, trained by Dale Romans, most recently was third in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
- Laoban, also unable to draw into the Kentucky Derby from the also-eligible list is CONFIRMED for the Preakness and is scheduled for a Tuesday arrival at Old Hilltop. The Eric Guillot trainee remains a maiden after five career starts but placed in both the Grade 3 Sham Stakes and Grade 2 Gotham. He most recently was fourth in the Blue Grass.
- Mark Casse trainee Fellowship looks to be CONFIRMED and is slated to leave Churchill Downs for Baltimore Monday afternoon. The son of Awesome of Course has placed in three graded events, including the Grade 1 Florida Derby, and most recently was fourth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on Derby day.
- Private Terms Stakes winner Abiding Star is POSSIBLE but at the mercy of circumstance. The Ned Allard trainee lost his first six starts but has now won five straight, including the Parx Derby last out. But he’s stranded at his Parx Racing base until the quarantine on the track, prompted by positive cases of equine herpesvirus, is lifted. If final tests come back clean, that could happen Tuesday. “Everything I’ve heard from everyone is that it will be a shock if it’s not,” Allard said. If the quarantine is lifted, the Maryland Jockey Club is taking special precautions and will have the Parx horses stabled apart from the rest of the horses on the grounds and will train separately, as well.
- Federico Tesio Stakes winner Awesome Speed is CONFIRMED for the Preakness. He may breeze Tuesday and is expected to ship to Pimlico from his New Jersey base Thursday, trainer Alan Goldberg said. Awesome Speed won the Tesio — a “Win and You’re In” race for the Middle Jewel — via disqualification when bumped by Governor Malibu, who returned to run second May 14 in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes.
- Grade 3 Lexington Stakes winner Collected is CONFIRMED for the Preakness Stakes. The Bob Baffert trainee breezed seven furlongs in 1:24 4/5 over the Churchill strip Friday and will ship to Pimlico on Tuesday.
- Dazzling Gem, most recently fourth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, remained POSSIBLE for the Preakness. He will ship to Pimlico Wednesday for one of two races: the Preakness or the $100,000 Sir Barton, the race in which many observers expect him to land.
- Impressive allowance winner Stradivari is POSSIBLE for the Preakness. The Todd Pletcher trainee has won two of three career starts — by 11 and 14 lengths — and breezed five furlongs in 59 3/5 seconds at Belmont Park Friday. “We’re still considering the Preakness,” Pletcher said.
- Uncle Lino is slated to ship to Baltimore from his Southern California base Tuesday and is CONFIRMED for the Preakness. The California Chrome Stakes winner will be the first-ever starter in Maryland for veteran trainer Gary Sherlock.