Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s duo of Calumet Farm’s Hence and L and N Racing’s Lookin At Lee put in their final breezes Monday morning at Churchill Downs prior to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (Grade I) at Pimlico Race Course.
Hence, 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), breezed a half-mile in :51 at 6 a.m. (all times Eastern) through splits of :13 and :25.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:05. Lookin At Lee, the Derby runner-up, worked a half-mile at 7:15 a.m. in :51.20 with splits of :13 and :25.80 before galloping out in 1:04.80.
“They both had really easy works,” Asmussen said. “Both horses were traveling well and came out of the Derby in good shape.
“Hence didn’t really run his race in the Derby. Watching from the grandstand he was jumping from the kickback of the sloppy racetrack. I expected him to come out of the race as though he didn’t exert himself and that’s exactly what he did. He’s a very impressive individual and still training very well.
“Lookin At Lee has always had a good rhythm to his training. This is a typical breeze for him. His personality and gamesmanship gave us a lot of confidence in him going into the Derby. We have no control of how the other horses run but we always feel like he does his best. It takes a horse like him to get the dream trip as he did in the Derby. Some of the spots that he went through aren’t for everybody and that’s what has us feeling so strongly about him going into the Preakness.”
In between the sets of Preakness hopefuls, Asmussen’s Dubai World Cup (GI) runner-up Gun Runner worked an easy half-mile in :51. The seven-time winner with earnings of $4,337,800 is expected to make his next start in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on June 17.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR TRAINER LYNN WHITING SET FOR MONDAY AT 2 P.M. – The memorial service for late Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Lynn Whiting is Monday at 2 p.m. and will be held in Churchill Downs’ Triple Crown Room in the Jockey Club Suites.
Whiting, a second-generation horseman who raced primarily at tracks in Kentucky and Arkansas best-known for his victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby with W.C. Partee’s Lil E. Tee, died April 19 in Louisville at age 77 only days after his return to his Barn 18 at Churchill Downs following weeks of hospital and rehabilitation care.
A native of Great Falls, Mon., the soft-spoken Whiting was highly-regarded by his peers as a patient, skilled and accomplished horseman who possessed a keen eye for potential in young horses. His Kentucky Derby winner was the best-known example of the latter, as he was purchased privately by Partee during the colt’s 2-year-old season for $200,000.
Whiting, who saddled 319 winners at Churchill Downs to rank 16th all-time at the Louisville, Ky. racetrack, learned his craft from his father, Lyle Whiting, a one-time jockey and longtime trainer.
Overall, Lynn Whiting won 1,279 races and $23.9 million in prize money from 6,113 starts as trainer since he saddled his first winner in February of 1969 at the now-defunct Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island. His final victory came with Jury Wise on March 10 at Oaklawn Park.
Whiting is survived by his wife, Nell, and daughters Carrie and Lori.
STAKES PROBABLES – Saturday will mark the 80th running’s of the $100,000 Matron Stakes (GIII), for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 1/16 miles, and the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII), for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Below are the probable entrants:
Matron Stakes – Crooked Stick, Lady Fog Horn, Tiger Moth, Walkabout, Weep No More.
Louisville Handicap (with assigned handicap weights) – Bullards Alley (116 lbs.), Generous Kitten (115), Street Fashion (115), Patrick’s Day (114), Grey Wizard (113), Nessy (111).
Saturday will be the first time that the Matron Stakes will be run at Churchill Downs. It was previously run at Arlington Park