Preakness Stakes contender Ride On Curlin, whose connections are embracing the old adage "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again," breezed four furlongs in :49 ⅗ seconds on an overcast morning at Pimlico Race Course May 14.
The 3-year-old son of 2007 Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin gave a positive impression as he powered around the Maryland oval under regular rider Bryan Beccia, who returned to the Pimlico stakes barn to give a glowing report.
"He was just at a high gallop; I never moved on him," Beccia said. "I'm scared to move on him if I [did] he would have kicked into another gear and then I would have been fighting him. So that was good, he was just nice and relaxed and just galloping along. He's real comfortable, handles the track really well, real fluid."
Ride On Curlin, who finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby, is one of a trio of horses exiting the May 3 test to wheel back as part of an expected 10-horse Preakness field. He'll face Derby winner California Chrome again, along with General a Rod, who was 11th.
Beccia said Ride On Curlin seems to be thriving in Maryland. The colt was second in the Arkansas Derby before his Kentucky Derby run, and aside from the Derby has never finished off the board in 10 starts. A $25,000 purchase from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, he heads into the Preakness with a 2-2-4 record, with earnings of $414,687 for owner Daniel Dougherty.
"You could tell backing him up (at Churchill), he was a little cranky and not as fluid," the exercise rider remarked. "He's even more fluid here. He's jogging really good, really loosened up good. Real good going to the pole, no problems.
"Just give us one clean trip and you'll see what he can do."
Trainer Billy Gowan was pleased with the move, which followed an extremely strong gallop May 13.
"I thought it was perfect," Gowan said. "He's definitely getting over the track excellent and when Bryan came by me at the eighth pole he had a hold of him, I was really, really happy with it. He's just a tough horse and he can take a lot of work. I think he'll run over anything he moves good over this track; it's got a good cushion on it and it's got a good surface."
Ride On Curlin will now get a day off to walk the shedrow before returning to the track. Joel Rosario has the mount in the Preakness, replacing Calvin Borel.