ORB -- Kentucky Derby winner Orb made a strong impression at Belmont Park during a four-furlong tune-up for Saturday’s 138th Preakness Stakes.
“I thought it was nothing short of magnificent,” trainer Shug McGaughey said.
The son of Malibu Moon was timed in :47.18 for the half-mile after breezing the first quarter of a mile in :24.47. Orb galloped out five furlongs in :59.54. The work was fifth-fastest of 96 at the distance.
“He broke off very relaxed and finished up unbelievably, just on his own. I was shocked when I looked down at my watch and saw he worked from the eighth-pole to the wire in 11-and-change,” said McGaughey, who revealed that the work sent chills up his back. “He was covering the ground as good as a horse could cover it. He galloped out fine, dropped his head and walked home.”
Leading up to his commanding 2 1/2-length Kentucky Derby victory on May 4, Orb produced a strong half-mile workout in company at Churchill Downs that also received rave reviews.
“All in all, I was just as impressed with this work as I was with the one in Louisville. It was a cool morning here, and the track had a little bounce to it, because it had a little moisture in it from the rains over the weekend, and it was in terrific shape,” said McGaughey. “But the way he went and the way he finished, well in hand, and came back, it was very, very visually impressive to me, and I couldn’t be happier with what I saw.”
Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s home-bred colt was loaded on a van shortly after 10 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico in mid-afternoon. Orb will occupy Stall 40 in the Preakness Stakes Barn, the stall that is traditionally reserved for the Kentucky Derby hero.
DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing walked the shedrow at Barn 45 at Churchill Downs Monday morning, a day after working a half-mile in :50 2/5.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said the Illinois Derby winner came out of the work fine and is scheduled to return to the track Tuesday morning to gallop a mile. Brian Hernandez Jr., who has been aboard Departing in all five of his starts, has the Preakness mount.
GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill stood on the deck outside the press box at Pimlico around 8:45 on a brisk Monday morning to get an overhead view of his Santa Anita Derby winner going through a spirited mile gallop under Kevin Krigger.
“I thought he went really well,” said O’Neill, who won last year’s Preakness with Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. “Kevin was kind enough to come over here after Churchill and get to know him even better – even though he knows him so well. Coming down the lane, Goldencents was so comfortable and he was reaching out great. I just loved what I saw today.”
O’Neill had originally planned to give Goldencents a workout at Pimlico after his poor performance in the Kentucky Derby (an eased-up 17th), but on Sunday he decided to use the same training regimen he had with I’ll Have Another and gallop into the race.
Goldencents was the only Preakness contender on the grounds as of Monday morning.
“I think he trains as hard as a lot of horses work,” O'Neil said. "He puts in a good effort every day, so in my mind there’s just no need – unless we have some weather issues or something like that. The goal was: if he could gallop comfortably every day, that’s what we would do, and so far, so good.”
O’Neill, who sent 12 horses to Pimlico shortly after the Derby, including Goldencents, said he doesn’t expect part-owner Rick Pitino to be present for the Preakness -- but that his son, Richard, is planning to attend. Pitino owns five percent of Goldencents with W.C. Racing and Dave Kenney.
Goldencents was the third choice in the wagering in Kentucky off his impressive victory in the Santa Anita Derby, but he was not a factor after the first six furlongs, dropping back from fifth to fifteenth in the ensuing quarter-mile.
“When we got to the three-eighths pole, the race changed for him completely,” said Krigger. “He went from just sitting comfortably to just not giving me the effort that he usually puts out. When we got to the five-sixteenths pole he just started regressing more for whatever reason it was, and I just decided, instead of harassing him and causing him to struggle on the sloppy track, to protect him and wrap up on him and brought him home.”
Last year, I’ll Have Another was the target; this year O’Neill comes to Baltimore as the hunter.
“It was a great feeling last year being the hunted, but a hunter’s not bad,” said O'Niell. “Just being here is a real honor, and I give great thanks to the horse and the owners. This is just an experience you want to be part of.”
Goldencents has already earned $1.2 million with four victories from seven starts, and O’Neill is drawing a line through the Derby.
“I think it was kind of a demanding track, and it just wasn’t to our liking,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a much better result Saturday.”
GOVENOR CHARLIE – Mike Pegram’s homebred colt showed that he has recovered from the minor problems that kept him out of the Kentucky Derby with a sharp six-furlong work in 1:10 4/5 (1/4) Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was satisfied with the performance and said a final decision on whether to run in the Preakness will be made Tuesday. Govenor Charlie, winner of the Sunland Derby on March 24, is booked on a flight from Louisville, Ky. to Maryland on Wednesday.
“He worked good enough to run,” Baffert said. “I think today we’re caught up for the little time that we lost.”
Govenor Charlie was found to have a bruise in a hind foot in April, was examined at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and subsequently missed two workouts. Baffert then decided he was not ready for the Derby.
The work Monday was his third since returning from the break. Working in company with Fed Biz, who was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Govenor Charlie turned in split times of :11 4/5, :23 4/5, :35 and :58 1/5 under Ricardo Santana Jr. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24 4/5.
“That’s him,” Baffert said. “When he starts working like that, it means he’s doing really well.”
However, Baffert said he wouldn’t commit the son of Midnight Lute to the Preakness until Tuesday.
“I have to see how he comes out of it,” Baffert said. “He went very, very well. That’s a call that I have to make.”
ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Itsmyluckyday came out of his half-mile workout at Monmouth Park Sunday afternoon “100 percent,” reported trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. Monday morning.
“He was acting like nothing happened,” said Plesa.
The son of Lawyer Ron worked between Sunday’s third and fourth races at Monmouth, breezing four furlongs in :47 1/5 (1/1).
Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to van to Pimlico at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
MYLUTE – GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute, the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in :49 3/5 (20/40) over a fast surface at Churchill Downs shortly after the track opened for training at 6 a.m.
Working on his own and with jockey Rosie Napravnik up, Mylute jogged once around and then galloped once around with a pony before producing fractions of :12 4/5, :24 4/5 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:04 2/5.
“It was a good breeze and the track was in excellent shape,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “This was similar to what he did before the Kentucky Derby but just a bit faster, and I hope that is a product of him being ready to roll.”
OXBOW / TITLETOWN FIVE / WILL TAKE CHARGE – Five-time Preakness-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent Oxbow and Will Take Charge, his sixth- and eighth-place Kentucky Derby finishers, respectively, to the track for four-furlong workouts Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
After the renovation break, Oxbow, ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, came out to work a half-mile in 49 4/5 (22/40). The son of Awesome Again posted fractions of :12 3/5, :24 3/5 and :37 3/5 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 3/5.
Earlier, Will Take Charge, who is scheduled to be ridden by Mike Smith, worked a half-mile in 48 2/5 seconds under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo. Will Take Charge posted fractions of :12 3/5, :24 1/5 and :36 for the work that ranked sixth fastest of 40 at the distance.
Titletown Five, who will be ridden in the Preakness by Julien Leparoux, was the first Lukas horse on the track Monday and he open-galloped 1 ¼ miles with a blowout down the stretch that was not recorded by clockers. Quevedo was aboard.
“We varied them a bit, but it was pretty much what I wanted,” said Lukas of Oxbow and Will Take Charge. “Coming off a tough race in the mud (in the Derby), the tendency sometimes is to do too much.”
Stevens, a two-time Preakness winner, liked Oxbow’s work.
“Time was not a factor, and this was more about his mind and keeping him relaxed for the trip tomorrow,” said Stevens, who won the Preakness with Silver Charm (1997) and Point Given (2001). “The main thing is to keep him happy. I think I am sitting on the right horse with the right style.”
Stevens envisions a different pace scenario from the Derby, in which Palace Malice led the field through the mud in fractions of :22.57, :45.33 and 1:09.80.
“I do not think the pace will be the same,” Stevens said. “You may want to forgive some of the horses for their races in the Derby. I thought Goldencents would be with us on the lead, and he was outside of us and getting all the kickback. At the five-eighths pole, I could see that Kevin (Krigger) was not comfortable, and he could not go inside, because that is where I was, and he had two horses on his outside.
“I think you can throw that race out, and I respect all of the opposition.”
Lukas said his Pimlico contingent would start loading at the barn at 3 a.m. Tuesday and expects to be at Old Hilltop around 4 p.m. The Hall of Fame conditioner will be on the van with his horses.
“I go with them whether we fly or go by van,” Lukas said. “I just like to be with them.”
VYJACK – Trainer Rudy Rodriguez informed Maryland Jockey Club officials Monday morning that Vyjack, the eighteenth-place Derby finisher, will not be entered in the Preakness Stakes. That leaves nine contenders, barring additions or deletions to the roster.