The colts who have finished second to Justify in his stakes appearances – Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro, who previously chased him home in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) – are entertaining the idea of trying again in the May 19 Preakness (G1). But connections are in no rush to confirm participation at Pimlico.
“I’m on the fence,” Brown said of the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. “It’s still under consideration.
“He’s fine. He’s back on the track. He jogged sound this morning.”
Brown added that he and Good Magic’s connections, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables, would decide Monday whether to go to Baltimore.
Bolt d’Oro, settled into his post-Derby digs at Keeneland instead of returning to Santa Anita as first thought, galloped 1 1/2 miles as owner/trainer Mick Ruis considers the Preakness. Although he was an uncharacteristic 12th behind Justify at Churchill Downs, Ruis believes the sloppy track was a factor.
“Someone just sent me a Twitter photo of Justify and Bolt when they were next to each other. Justify is skipping over the track, pasterns up. Bolt’s (hooves), all the way below the pasterns, were just sucked into that track. Absolutely he didn’t like it. It would be like one running on the freeway and one running in sand.
“We’re not ruling out the Preakness, but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with him yet. He’s training well, but we just don’t know what we want to do.
“We’re going to see how he’s training up to it, and it doesn’t matter if Justify runs or not. We know we’re going to have to run against him. If we feel we’re good to go in there, we’re going.”
So far, Bolt d’Oro is sending the right signals.
“He is doing really, really good,” Ruis noted. “It doesn’t look like he even lost a pound. He’s really good and really happy.”
Ruis also spoke of the decision to pitch camp at Keeneland.
“We have a farm four miles away (the recently purchased Chestnut Farm), and we thought (Keeneland would) be a good place to relax with ‘Bolt’ – nice, calm, don’t have the hustle and bustle of anything.”
Later Thursday, Ruis’ daughter Shelbe tweeted that Corey Nakatani would regain the mount aboard Bolt d’Oro wherever he goes next.
Another Derby alum in the Preakness mix is eighth-placer Lone Sailor. Trainer Tom Amoss, likewise keeping the option open, was in a good spot to scout out Justify at Churchill Downs Thursday morning. If the opposition were probing for weaknesses, none were evident.
“I thought he looked identical to how he looked for the Kentucky Derby when I watched him train, and I don’t think that’s very good news for anybody who wants to run against him in Baltimore,” Amoss said of Justify.
“I’m not bubbling over with confidence that the Derby winner is going to get beat. I think (the Preakness decision) is still going to boil down to how our horse is doing.”
Lone Sailor’s status will be finalized Saturday after consultation with owner Mrs. Gayle Benson of G M B Racing.
Already confirmed is Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero Quip, who skipped the Derby to freshen up following his Arkansas Derby (G1) second. His ownership partially overlapping with Justify’s in WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, the Rodolphe Brisset pupil plans to work Sunday at Keeneland.
“Quip is a very good horse, and I think he deserves a chance,” WinStar President/CEO and Racing Manager Elliott Walden said. “It’s going to be exciting to see him run, as well. He’s a horse who has done nothing wrong except for one bad start here in the Kentucky Jockey Club ([G2] in November). Every other start has been really good, and he’s doing well, so we’ll see what he does next Saturday.”
The Preakness riding assignments for the D. Wayne Lukas duo were announced Thursday. Luis Saez picks up the mount on Risen Star (G2) scorer Bravazo, who looks to move forward off a solid sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Luis Contreras now shifts to stablemate Sporting Chance, last summer’s Hopeful (G1) winner who exits a fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard.
But don’t call it a rider’s choice, the Hall of Famer said.
“We don’t let them choose,” Lukas said in good humor. “That’s like letting your team put out the lineup…. It gets down to gut reaction to what you think fits — and a combination of trying to appease your owners a little bit.
“Luis Contreras is getting along awful good with Sporting Chance (owned by Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack). Having said that, I think Luis Saez is a better fit on (Calumet Farm homebred) Bravazo, even though he’s ridden Sporting Chance to a Grade 1 win….You never in these races lead with your heart, always with your business sense.”
Diamond King was entered in Saturday’s Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont, but trainer John Servis said that he will instead contest the Preakness. Owned by a partnership led by Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King, the Parx-based colt earned a berth by virtue of the “Win and You’re In” Federico Tesio at Laurel April 21.
“It looks like we’re heading to the Preakness,” Servis said. “It’s always exciting to be able to come back and be a part of it. He didn’t get a chance to run in the Derby because he didn’t have the points, but the winner was very impressive. I’m excited about it.
“He came out of it great,” the trainer said of the Tesio.
Diamond King returned to the worktab May 6, breezing a half-mile in :50.21 from the gate, and will record one more move ahead of the middle jewel.
“It was just a maintenance work, just a nice, easy half-mile by himself,” Servis said. “We just wanted to let him stretch his legs a little bit. He’ll work again this weekend but I don’t know what day. I’m planning on Sunday, but I’m not sure. We’ll have to see how the weather shakes out.”
The Preakness cast could also include Tenfold, the Arkansas Derby fifth from the Steve Asmussen barn; Dallas Stewart’s Givemeaminit, most recently third in the Pat Day Mile; and pending developments, possibly the Todd Pletcher-trained Pony Up who has placed in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) and Lexington (G3) in his last pair.
“We’re just kind of waiting to see what the Preakness field does before deciding,” Pletcher told the New York Racing Association publicity team. “He could run at Pimlico in the Sir Barton, or if there’s some changes to the field in the Preakness we’ll keep an eye on that as well.”