Two Derby runners eye Preakness
Two horses who were unplaced in the Kentucky Derby -- Normandy Invasion and Vyjack -- have been added to the list of possible candidates for the May 18 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Trainer Chad Brown said May 6 that Normandy Invasion, who had the lead in the stretch before eventually finishing fourth in the Derby, is a possibility for the Preakness. Initially, Brown had ruled out the second leg of the Triple Crown for the son of Tapit. "Originally, I threw the Preakness out," Brown said, "but he's come out of the race so well that I'm at least going to remain neutral on the topic until I can see the horse go back to the track and get a gauge on his energy level and his soundness." Brown said the colt was scheduled to fly from Kentucky to New York May 6 and that a decision on the Preakness would likely be made by this weekend. Vyjack, who finished 18th in an eventful Derby, also might join the Preakness field, according to trainer Rudy Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he will take a close look at the Into Mischief gelding when he returns to his barn at Aqueduct Racetrack May 7. In the Derby, Vyjack lost his composure and dragged jockey Garrett Gomez close to a torrid early pace. "Garrett told me that the horse ran off for the first five or six furlongs and that he just eased him up. He said he had no control of the horse in the beginning," Rodriguez said. "He said the horse broke well, but he shied away from the crowd and when he took hold of him the horse just took off. He was never able to relax." Rodriguez said Vyjack came out of the race in good physical shape. Other Derby starters confirmed for the Preakness are Goldencents (17th) and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Oxbow (6th) and Will Take Charge (8th). Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents was scheduled to fly from Louisville to New York the afternoon of May 6 before vanning to Pimlico. Goldencents is trained by Doug O'Neill, who won last year's Preakness with Derby winner I'll Have Another. I'll Have Another's Triple Crown attempt ended when he was injured prior to the Belmont Stakes. Oxbow and Will Take Charge are scheduled to walk the shedrow at Churchill Downs May 7 and 8 before likely returning to the track on Thursday. Itsmyluckyday, who finished 15th in the Derby, is scheduled to van from Churchill Downs to Monmouth Park on May 7. If all goes well in his training at the New Jersey track, the Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained colt is likely to return in the Preakness. Plesa's assistant Frankie Perez was an assistant to trainer Frank Brothers when the stable's Hansel won the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes following a 10th-place finish in the Derby. "He didn't run any good in the Derby and he ran back [in the Preakness] and won," Perez, who has worked for Plesa for 20 years, said of Hansel. Mylute, who finished fifth in the Derby, remained a possibility for the Preakness, trainer Tom Amoss said. "No decision has been made about the Preakness," Amoss said. "He is doing well, has good energy and probably will go back to the track Wednesday and have a very light day." Bob Baffert-trained Govenor Charlie, the Sunland Park Derby winner, and Bellarmine, one of three winners on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard for trainer Ken McPeek, are also under consideration for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. According to the Maryland Jockey Club, Fear the Kitten is no longer considered a Preakness contender. Meanwhile, Derby winner Orb has settled in nicely at trainer Shug McGaughey's Belmont Park barn after his flight from Kentucky the day after the Derby. "He shipped real well. This morning he walked around here great and ate his lunch right up," McGaughey said. "He seems to be as bright as can be." On Sunday, McGaughey conducted interviews with CNN, NBC Sports, and radio. He regards the attention as a small price to pay for adding the Kentucky Derby to his Hall of Fame resume. "I'm prepared. I've read about it and watched other people go through it," McGaughey said. "I was ready for it to happen to me." Orb, who has won five straight races, is expected to train for the Preakness at Belmont before shipping to Pimlico early next week.
MORE HORSE RACING HEADLINES
- Gary West: December could be big for juveniles
- British trainer suspended 5 years for steroid use
- Flat Out dominates stretch to win Cigar Mile
- Will Take Charge nips Game On Dude in Clark