Trio Of Preakness Contenders Work Saturday At Churchill Downs

Trainer Brad Cox not only will have his first career entrant in a Triple Crown race in the 144th Preakness Stakes but also his second. Both horses, Rupp Racing’s Owendale and Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables LLC’s Warrior’s Charge, were on display in the pre-dawn Saturday morning at Churchill Downs while producing strong workouts.

Owendale went first, right after the track opened at 5:30 a.m., and was timed by the Churchill Downs’ clockers going five-eighths of a mile in 59.20 seconds, the fastest of 31 works at the distance. The Lexington Stakes (G3) winner was clocked galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.20 after going through splits of 12.40 for the first eighth-mile, 24 for the quarter-mile and 46.80 for the half-mile under exercise rider Mario Garcia.

“He went really well and did it the right way, breaking off at the half and going on out through the three-quarter pole,” Cox said. “The rider stayed down on him around the far turn, no strong urging or anything, just what we were looking for. Came back and scoped great and looked good cooling out. We’ll check them tomorrow, and if all is well, on to Baltimore.”

Warrior’s Charge began his work minutes later, breezing five-eighths in 1:00.80 through fractions of 12.60, 24.60 and 48.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.20 under regular exercise rider Edvin Hernandez. The clockers went on and caught a seven-furlong gallop-out time of 1:27.40.

“The other colt was a little headstrong going to the pole, and I think it took him around a sixteenth of a mile to settle into the work,” Cox said of Warrior’s Charge. “But a really good breeze. Both of them worked fantastic. Both horses haven’t raced in five weeks, so I was looking to do something with them, and I feel we accomplished that this morning… Both of them were on their own, doing it the right way, on the bridle. I had a radio on both riders, instructing them just to stay down and as long as (the horse) felt good and let them do their thing. They did and felt there was some left in the tank for both of them.”

Owners Marshall Gramm and Clay Sanders of Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Racing’s Sol Kumin elected to supplement Warrior’s Charge into the Preakness off back-to-back impressive wins at 1 1/16 miles against maidens and allowance company at Oaklawn Park. The cost is $150,000 to make a horse eligible for the Preakness if it wasn’t first nominated to the Triple Crown.

“As far as a trainer, it wasn’t going to be anything different with what I did with the horse,” Cox said. “I was preparing him for the Sir Barton, and they brought this up. The bottom line is: He fits. We’re going to give him the opportunity. He’ll be forwardly placed, that’s what we’re hoping for. Javier Castellano will ride him. I think if he can get the right trip and back things down, be close – not necessarily on the lead, but if he is, that’s OK – and carry his speed a mile and three-sixteenths.”

Warrior’s Charge has never been in a stakes, let alone a Grade 1. So it speaks to his potential that the stable was able to land Castellano, a two-time Preakness winner and Hall of Fame jockey.

“His [speed] figures stack up with these horses,” Cox said. “That’s why we’re looking at this. He’s a very nice horse, tons of potential. We’re jumping into the deep end of the pool. But we do think there’s a lot of talent and potential there.

“I feel like Owendale is still figuring it out,” he added. “He’s definitely hitting his best stride midway through his 3-year-old year. It’s not just about next Saturday. It’s about going on and developing him as the year goes on.”

Last year Cox had his first Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner, first Breeders’ Cup winner and first champion with Monomoy Girl. Cox is optimistic about his chance to add a Triple Crown victory to his ever-expanding resume.

“It’s super, super exciting. Both horses are coming into this race extremely well. It’s going to be up to the trips they get and just how good are they? We don’t know,” Cox said. “That’s why we’re jumping into the deep end of the pool, and hopefully they can swim.”

Florent Geroux will ride Owendale.

Although Churchill Downs’ clockers timed Signalman’s workout as a half-mile breeze, the Preakness contender’s work Saturday morning was designed as a five-furlong move. With Signalman breezing just to the outside of stablemate Indian Counselor, the clockers caught the half-mile in 47.60 seconds with a five-eighths gallop-out time of 1:00.80.

“He hadn’t run in six weeks, so we needed a nice [work] in company,” said trainer Kenny McPeek. “He’s going to be running a mile and three-sixteenths with six weeks between races. It was a nice maintenance breeze. The other horse is a good, solid horse, too. He stalked off the side of him and finished up good. Nice work.”

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who will ride Signalman next Saturday, observed the workout.

“He went along like we wanted him to and finished up well and went on and galloped out,” he said.

Hernandez has been on Signalman for his past five races: a second in Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1), a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), a victory in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), then starting this year with a seventh in Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) and third in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G2), in which he lost a chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby field by missing second by a nose.

“He’s always been a big, good-looking horse, and it seems like he’s getting bigger and stronger,” Hernandez said. “Everything we’ve asked him to do so far, he’s done – between only having the two preps in the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass. He’s getting better and better, it seems. We’re just looking at the Preakness and see what he can come up with.

“The Blue Grass was a good effort for having the one race going into it. I thought he ran a respectable race. He might have gotten a little tired late, just because it was only his second race of the year. He gave us an honest effort,” he added. “With all this horse has done so far up to this point, you have to go into the Preakness thinking he has a big chance.”

Asked about the prospective Preakness field, McPeek quipped, “I’m really happy that Pimlico doesn’t use the points system like Churchill Downs and I don’t have to worry about getting in. Eleven is a good number. It should be a great race. There are some good horses running. I think some of the horses that didn’t run in the Derby are going to run big in this one. Then, we’ll all probably get hooked up at Belmont, too. It’s ever-changing this time of year. You get horses that peak before the Derby, some during and some after. It’s part of the process and challenge of it all.”

Preakness Notes: Probable Preakness favorite Improbable, the Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up who was bumped up from fifth to fourth in the Kentucky Derby upon first-place finisher Maximum Security’s disqualification, galloped 1 ½ miles Saturday at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

Trainer Bob Baffert, in pursuit of a record-breaking eighth Preakness triumph, is expected to travel to Louisville Sunday and be at Churchill Downs to watch Improbable’s training on Monday.

The last Preakness winner who wasn’t in the top three in his prior start was Oxbow, who was sixth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. The last Preakness favorite who was not in the top three in his prior start was Pine Bluff, the 1992 winner who had been fifth in the Derby.

The other Preakness contenders at Churchill Downs went out for routine 1 ½-mile gallops: the Steve Asmussen-trained Oaklawn Invitational winner Laughing Fox under exercise rider Brooke Stillion; Mark Casse-trained War of Will, the Kentucky Derby’s eighth-place finisher who was moved up to seventh, under exercise rider Kim Carroll; and Bodexpress, 14th and placed 13th in the Derby, with Omar Ortiz aboard for the training session.

Gustavo Delgado Jr., son of and assistant to the trainer, said Bodexpress, the Florida Derby (G1) runner-up, could have a workout Monday.

Bodexpress will try to become the first previously winless horse to capture the Preakness Stakes since Refund in 1888 and only the seventh overall, according to Allan Carter, historian for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The last maiden to run in the race was Laoban, who was sixth at 66-1 odds in a field of 11 in 2016.

Other Preakness candidates include Alwaysmining, who breezed a half-mile in 48.20 seconds at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Friday for the Preakness, in which he’ll put a six-race winning streak on the line; Bourbon War, who finished fourth behind Maximum Security in the March 30 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream in his most recent start; and Win Win Win, who finished 10th and was placed ninth in the Kentucky Derby.

The post Trio Of Preakness Contenders Work Saturday At Churchill Downs appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.