Rodney Jenkins pointing two at Preakness weekend
by Frank Vespe
Maryland-based trainer Rodney Jenkins expects to have two runners in graded stakes Preakness weekend, he told The Racing Biz editor of handicapping content Gary Quill on May 11.
Shimmering Aspen is likely pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes May 19, the veteran trainer said, though the Grade 2, $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes also remains under consideration.
Five-year-old Top of Mind is expected to run in the Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie Stakes on May 20 on the Preakness undercard.
Three-year-old Shimmering Aspen has done little wrong in her brief career. The daughter of Malibu Moon, a $200,000 auction purchase for Ellen Charles’s Hillwood Stable LLC, has recorded three wins and a third from four career starts and is two-for-two this year.
Most recently, Shimmering Aspen romped to a seven-length victory at Laurel Park in a $45,000 allowance test against what appeared — on paper, at any rate — to be a salty group of rivals. That victory came at a distance of seven furlongs, the longest she has assayed to date.
That distance consideration may play a key role in Jenkins’ decision-making. The Black-Eyed Susan, the richer and more prestigious of the races under consideration, is a 1 1/8 mile race, while the Miss Preakness is a six-furlong sprint.
Shimmering Aspen breezed three-quarters of a mile at Pimlico this morning in a leisurely 1:15. Jenkins indicated that he was pleased with the move and expected her to run well next weekend — “of course.”
Top of Mind, a five-year-old Curlin gelding also owned by Hillwood, has won five of 13 career starts and has blossomed when switched over to the turf. He had his career-best effort three back when a near-miss second at long odds in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Turf Cup. Most recently, he finished sixth — though beaten less than three lengths — in the $75,000 Henry S. Clark Stakes at Laurel Park.
“He had a rough trip that day down on the rail,” Jenkins said. “He couldn’t handle that.”