PREAKNESS STAKES (Grade 1)
Pimlico, Dirt, 9.5 Furlongs
17 May 2014
Steve Sherack - An extremely foggy and misty morning greeted the GI Preakness Stakes contenders two days before the main event.
Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) and General a Rod (Roman Ruler) remained on their early-bird schedules, both heading out shortly after 6 a.m. General a Rod’s white bridle certainly helped to some degree, but it was still awfully hard to pick the dark bay off the far turn in the trying conditions. It was a little bit easier to spot Kid Cruz, courtesy of exercise rider Reul Munoz’s bright yellow jacket and green cap. General a Rod was on his toes once again and looking to do more as trainer Mike Maker met him on the track following his strong 1 1/4-mile gallop.
Based on General a Rod’s pre-Derby form and what he’s been indicating in his morning preparations since arriving in Baltimore, that 15-1 quote on the morning-line seems awfully generous right now.
A much larger gathering of media (at least double than Wednesday’s crowd) as well as a hooded-up Ms. Racing Queen Linsey Toole and Starlight Racing’s Jack Wolf, were all on hand as California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit)’s 6:45 a.m. training slot continued to near.
In the meantime, with co-owner Ron Paolucci in attendance, the filly Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor) calmly walked the path at 6:35 a.m. and had much more of a bounce in her step after returning from her one-mile jog through the fog approximately 15 minutes later.
The GI Kentucky Derby winner was led out by Alan Sherman a little bit later than usual at 6:55 a.m. With the California-bred receiving his usual rockstar treatment as photographers lined up from all angles by the gap, the assistant trainer couldn’t help but laugh as California Chrome stopped and ate up all the attention. Just like he did Wednesday, California Chrome let out a big whinny once given his cue by Willie Delgado and disappeared into the fog as he jogged the wrong way along the outer rail before turning in another routine gallop.
Well before the rumors began circulating about the possibility of the Preakness 3-5 morning-line favorite being sick, conditioner Art Sherman addressed the press by the podium near the stakes barn at 7:45 a.m.
“Whatever happens, he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody anymore,” he said. “He won the Santa Anita Derby, which was a big feat for me. It was my first $1-million race, then to come back and win a $2-million race, I had to pinch myself. It’s pretty awesome.”
Other than a new suit from his wife, the affable 77-year-old remains the same.
“My lifestyle hasn’t changed any,” Sherman continued. “I’m doing the same thing that I’ve done for 30-40 years. I figure, I’m lucky when I can pull my boots on every morning - I’ve got another day. That’s the way I look at it. You got to love what you’re doing and I do.”
Even with Ride On Curlin (Curlin) walking the shedrow a day after breezing an easy four furlongs and GII Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend (Tapit) yet to arrive, there was still plenty of action following the 8:30 a.m. renovation break as the fog finally began to lift some.
Bayern (Offlee Wild), DQ’d from first and placed second in the GIII Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill on 26 April, was the first to exit the stakes barn with Bob Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes on the shank. The Kaleem Shah colorbearer handled himself like a pro as he galloped for the first time at Pimlico after shipping from Kentucky Wednesday.
Social Inclusion (Pioneerof the Nile) continues to look stronger as the week progresses. Giving his groom all he could handle on the walk over, the bay couldn’t wait to get down to business, and really caught the eye when exploding off the far turn during his 1 1/2-mile gallop.
Flashy chestnut Pablo Del Monte (Giant’s Causeway) (the Derby winner isn’t the only one with some chrome) - a solid third in the GI Blue Grass Stakes also made his first trackside appearance, as did the fellow blaze-faced Dynamic Impact (Tiznow), hero of the GIII Illinois Derby. With both sporting stable- colored browbands, it was pretty difficult for the handsome duo not to make a favorable first impression.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News