PREAKNESS: NY TRIO HAS FINAL BREEZES
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown sent out Klaravich Stables’ duo Crowded Trade and Risk Taking to breeze in company Saturday, while Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher had Whisper Hill Farm’s Unbridled Honor work in company with older graded stakes winner Fearless at Belmont Park in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness.
The Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, will be contested at 1 3/16-miles on Saturday, March 15 at Pimlico Race Course.
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Risk Taking worked outside of Crowded Trade, both with exercise riders up, through five-eighths in 1:01.76 on a main track rated fast at 8:45 a.m. with the pair finishing together at the wire.
“I thought they breezed super. It was just what I wanted,” said Brown, who captured the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing, who was co-owned by Klaravich Stables with William H. Lawrence. “I got them in 1:01 and even out in 1:13 and change. I was real happy with it.”
A bay son of Medaglia d’Oro, Risk Taking was purchased for $240,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He graduated at third asking in a nine-furlong maiden special weight in December at Aqueduct Racetrack and captured the Grade 3 Withers at the same distance in February at the Big A.
Last out, Risk Taking failed to fire when seventh as the mutuel favorite in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3.
Brown said the opportunity to run two turns was a key factor in Risk Taking being scratched from today’s Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan, going a one-turn 1 1/8-miles on Big Sandy.
“It was a huge factor along with the distance of the race,” said Brown. “I think the longer the better for him. Both of his wins are around two turns and I didn’t want to change anything.”
Brown said he is hoping the lackluster effort last out was due to kickback from a heavy Big A main track.
“It was a heavy dirt that day. He really resented it and I’m hoping that’s why he ran uncharacteristically poor,” said Brown.
The veteran conditioner said he is buoyed by how Risk Taking has come out of the Wood Memorial.
“His last two works were the best we’ve seen,” said Brown.
Crowded Trade, a chestnut son of More Than Ready, has made all three career starts at the Big A. He won on debut in January sprinting six furlongs on the main track and followed with a narrow nose loss to Weyburn in the Grade 3 Gotham traveling a one-turn mile on March 6.
Crowded Trade, who was eighth at the half-mile call last out in the Wood Memorial, closed to finish third. Brown said he expects Crowded Trade to be more prominent in the Preakness.
“He just broke bad,” said Brown regarding the Wood Memorial. “He didn’t get away good and lost position early. Hopefully, he gets out of the gate better this time.”
Brown said the lightly-raced Crowded Trade has every right to improve next Saturday.
“He’s only raced three times. He’s run three really credible races and he’s going in the right direction,” said Brown. “He’s had six weeks between races and I could see him running a really big race on Saturday.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride Crowded Trade in the Preakness, while Jose Ortiz has the call on Risk Taking.
Unbridled Honor, a Kentucky homebred piloted by exercise rider Amelia Green, worked outside of Fearless, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper under exercise rider Hector Ramos, on Belmont’s dirt training track at 9:30 a.m. The pair covered a half-mile in 49.75 and out in 1:02.1 with a long gallop out through the turn.
“I thought both horses worked well to the wire,” said Pletcher. “Fearless was particularly strong on the gallop out and I thought Unbridled Honor did well. I was happy with both of them.”
A grey son of Honor Code, Unbridled Honor graduated at third asking in a mile and forty yard maiden special weight on February 6 at Tampa Bay Downs. He followed with a closing fourth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March ahead of a good second in the Grade 3 Lexington contested at 1 1/16-miles on a sloppy Keeneland main track on April 10.
Pletcher said he was pleased with the Lexington effort, which offered 20-8-4-2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
“We weren’t really thinking Derby at that time. We were hoping for a good performance, which we got,” said Pletcher. “He finished up well and he continues to improve with each start. He had a good pace to run at that day. Hopefully, it will be a contested pace at Pimlico.”
Luis Saez will have the call aboard Unbridled Honor in the Preakness and Pletcher said he expects another closing run.
“I think that’s his running style so we’ll hope for a good, solid pace upfront and come with a late run,” said Pletcher. “A wet track wouldn’t be a problem.”