Bailey in, Espinoza out on Congaree
By Bill Finley
Special to ESPN.com
Jerry Bailey is in and Victor Espinoza is out on Congaree.
Trainer Bob Baffert has announced that he has made a rider change for the Preakness, giving the boot to Espinoza. Congaree, who finished third, may have been too close early to a vicious early pace, but Baffert said there were other reasons for the jockey change. "Victor rode a great race," he said. "But we're going to have an East Coast campaign with him and Bailey rides all my horses on the East Coast."
Baily won the Preakness last year aboard Red Bullet.
The Congaree switch was the second major rider change made for the Preakness. Nick Zito announced earlier that Pat Day would replace Corey Nakatani aboard A P Valentine. Zito was miffed when Nakatani failed to show up for a pre-Derby workout.
While Gary Stevens will retain the mount on Point Given, the beaten favorite in the Derby, but his owner, Prince Ahmed of Saudi Arabia, was another who wasn't pleased with his jockey's tactics. Many felt that Stevens moved too early.
"Prince Ahmed has always favored allowing Point Given to set his own agenda his races," said stable manager Richard Mulhall. "In the Derby, Gary was asked not to let him drop too far back (by trainer Bob Baffert). Prince Ahmed, however, disagreed and thought Point Given would do better not being pushed, wherever that put him in the field. The Prince has been a pretty good judge of race tactics in the past, but this time he got overruled. In the Preakness, we'll listen and let Point Given run his own race."