BALTIMORE - John Oxley's Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos "jogged a couple miles and broke a sweat, which is good," said trainer John Ward, Jr. Friday morning
during another marathon round of interviews. "He is where I want him to
be going into the race. We just have to hope that he doesn't flip his top
between now and the race, but he's done very well adjusting to his surroundings
here." Ward perceives Congaree and A P Valentine as particularly dangerous
rivals. "Congaree is an extremely talented horse and Jerry Bailey is just
a wonderful, wonderful rider and his style fits that horse. I have 100
per cent confidence in Georgie (Jorge Chavez) and I'm sure he'll respond
to anything that comes along in the race. A P Valentine has just trained
so well here." Asked if he was looking past the Preakness, Ward said "We're
totally focused on the Preakness right now, but if he runs well, we'll
be looking at several things going into the Belmont. "The first thing would
be to get him up there to train over the track. He's never trained or run
there. It's a mile and a half track and horses will use different muscles
to get over it."
Point Given puts
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Point Given, one of the favorites for
Saturday's Preakness, gave everyone a major thrill walking to the track
for his gallop Friday morning when he reared up high on his hind legs like
he was auditioning for a role in "The Chestnut Stallion." Considering the
fact that the Thunder Gulch colt stands 17.2 hands when he's flat on the
ground, it was an impressive sight and caught everybody's attention.
"He'sdone that before," trainer Bob Baffert said. "It's his way of telling us
he's feeling good, ready to roll." Exercise rider Pepe Aragon held on for
dear life and stayed in the saddle. "He rears up, I stay on," Aragon said.
"He must have reared a hundred times with me since I first started riding
him. But he does it and that's it. Some horses are mean and cranky and
just continue to give you trouble after they rear. But he's not mean. He
does it, and that's it. He goes back to business like nothing ever happened.
"The very first time I ever got on him, he reared," Aragon said. "I wasn't
expecting it, but I stayed on. He did it twice more that day, then settled
down. Usually he just goes up high on his hind legs and comes down. Now
he twists a little, like he's learning new tricks."
"We're gonna have to get Pepe a Velcro saddle," Baffert said with a smile. Point Given and Stonerside
Stable's Congaree both galloped around the main Pimlico oval this morning.
Congaree, third in the Kentucky Derby, was installed the second choice
at 5-2 on the Preakness morning line, while Point Given, who started the
9-5 favorite and finished fifth in the Derby, is third choice at 3-1.
Baffert was still undecided Friday morning about where to saddle the two colts.
Most of the field will saddle on the turf course, so Baffert was considering
separating his two from the rest to saddle in the indoor paddock.
"I don't know where we'll saddle yet," Baffert said. "Point Given is such a big
sucker, and he likes to rear up. I don't want to scare everybody to death
out there. Wherever we saddle, they'll be together.
"They're both doing great here," Baffert said. "It looks like the Derby took more out of me
than it did out of them."
Baffert was asked if he had any pre-race superstitions.
"Yeah," he said. "Never put a hat on the bed. My father told me that. I
have no idea why. But I'll bet somebody in our stable put a hat on the
bed before the Derby."
Raymond Dweck's Richly Blended, who figures to be the speed of the
Preakness, galloped a mile and a half Friday morning under regular exercise
rider Tony Gargan. Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. returned to his Monmouth Park
base in New Jersey after saddling Stormy Pick for a third-place finish
in Thursday's Miss Preakness Stakes. Bloodstock agent Baden "Buzz" Chace,
who bought the Rizzi colt out of a Florida sale last year, was acting as
Perkins' assistant. "He's doing great," Chace said, "fresh, fit and ready."
Dollar Bill has
Gary and Mary West's Dollar Bill, who has had nothing but problems
in his last three starts, stayed out of trouble Friday morning as he went
to the track early for some light exercise. "He just jogged two miles,
nice and easy," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "He's doing good and he'll
run good." Regular exercise rider Joanne McNamara, who was aboard the Peaks
and Valleys colt this morning, celebrated her birthday Thursday. She wasn't
saying which one.
and Bridgmohan in strategy session
Paraneck Stable's Griffinite jogged a mile and galloped a mile under
exercise rider Debby Landry Friday morning at Pimlico in preparation for
the Preakness. "If he does the best he is capable of on Saturday, then
he will be tough. This is a nice horse and I think he belongs with horses
this good," said trainer Jennifer Leigh-Pedersen. The trainer said she
will have a strategy meeting with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan Friday evening.
"I want to stalk (the leaders), but I don't want to lose touch," she said.
"I don't want to be way off, but I do think a horse can come from the back
and do all right."
Bay Eagle schools
at Delaware Park gate
With exercise rider Vicki King aboard, Lazy Lane Farms' Bay Eagle schooled
in the starting gate, then galloped a mile and a half at Delaware Park.
"Actually all he did was stand in the gate a little," said trainer Graham
Motion. "But that was enough. He doesn't need anything else." The son of
Secret Hello will leave by van from Delaware Park at approximately 6 a.m.
in hopes of avoiding the early crowd . The colt will be brought to the
Marciano may be
last to arrive
Win More Stable's Federico Tesio winner Marciano remains at Delaware
Park and ships to Pimlico Saturday morning as does Bay Eagle. Trainer Tim
Ritchey's time schedule for arrival appears likely to be a little later
in the morning than Bay Eagle.
Percy Hope gallops,
Waterfall Stable's Lone Star Derby winner Percy Hope galloped 1 3/8
miles Friday morning for trainer, groom and hot walker Tony Reinstedler,
who says he's enjoying his first Preakness experience. "It's really been
fun," says the native of Louisville. "Circumstances with the young horses
coming into the stable at Churchill Downs have us a little stretched for
help, so I just decided to do it all myself. It's like riding a bicycle,
you don't forget, even if you haven't done in a while. "I don't feel any
pressure whatsoever. I've been with good horses running in big races plenty
of times. The bottom line with this horse is if he's good enough to compete
at this level.
"I think he is best in a stalking position. He runs up on the bridle.
I was stabled all winter at Gulfstream in the same barn with John Ward
and Monarchos, so I know what we're up against. If my horse is overlooked,
I can understand. He needs to earn respect." Reinstedler worked for trainer
Shug McGaughey for 7 1/2 years, first as a groom and later as an assistant
during the years the stable had such stars as Easy Goer, Personal Ensign
and Seeking the Gold in the barn before going on his own in 1990.
A P Valentine
goes easy Friday
Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P Valentine had "a light gallop
and jog" Friday morning, according to trainer Nick Zito. "He got very aggressive
in his gallop yesterday morning and we just wanted him to settle down a
little this morning." Still reflecting on the A.P. Indy colt's rough trip
while finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, Zito said, "People don't
realize what a troubled trip like that takes out of a horse. "The reason
I decided not to skip the Preakness and just point for the Belmont was
that I think it will set him up better for the Belmont than if he didn't
run here. It's been hard for me to see the replay (Derby) again and again."
Mr. John gallops,
Walden expects quick break
Thomas Van Meter II's Mr. John galloped a mile-and-a-half
Friday morning, according to trainer Elliott Walden, who sees the son of
Golden Gear involved in the race early on. "He's a very fast breaker,"
said Walden from his Barn 3 office on the backstretch. "I'll be disappointed
if he isn't one-two coming out of the gate. Then I see Richly Blended coming
over in front of us to take the lead. My horse should settle into the first
flight whether its second, third or fourth. "After that point, we go into