(Chad Brown at the Churchill Downs’ backside before the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby  / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Pimlico Media Team:

Klaravich Stables Inc.’s Crowded Trade and Risk Taking breezed five furlongs in company at Belmont Park Saturday in preparation for scheduled starts in next Saturday’s 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

“They both worked together and worked super. They did a nice standard five-furlong workout and galloped out with plenty of energy,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It seems like we’re ready to go. I look forward to the race.”

The Brown trainees were both timed in 1:01.76, the third-fastest clockings of 18 recorded at the five-furlong distance.

Crowded Trade’s three-race record heading into the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown closely parallels that of Brown-trained Cloud Computing, who captured the 2017 Preakness Stakes off a maiden score, a runner-up finish in the Gotham (G3) and a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G2). Crowded Trade won his Jan, 28 debut at Aqueduct before finishing second in the Gotham and third in the Wood Memorial. The son of More Than Ready was kept out of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) May 1 in order to concentrate on the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

“They’re so similar. If you look at their form, they almost look identical, so we thought it would be a good plan for him to point to the Preakness, despite having points to run in the Derby. I just didn’t feel that he was up to it and thought a slightly shorter distance might work for him,” Brown said. “That’s the one question about this horse. Cloud Computing, I had more confidence going in. I was more sure of him… that he would handle the Preakness distance. With this horse, I feel that he’s talented enough to give a really good account of himself in a race like this at this level. I’m not quite as sure about the distance. So he’s going to have to show me that he can finish off his races as we keep stretching him out.”

Risk Taking was withdrawn from Saturday’s Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont, for which he was rated as the 7-5 morning-line favorite, in favor of a start in the Preakness. The son of Medaglia d’Oro is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Wood Memorial, in which he bobbled at the start. He previously broke his maiden in his third career start Dec. 13 at Aqueduct before scoring a 3 ¾-length triumph in the Withers (G3).

“It has always been in our minds to think about the Preakness. I might have pointed to the Preakness earlier if I knew he was going to get in. You just never know. It’s a race that typically doesn’t overfill, but then again, if [there were] a lot of horses coming from the Derby that won a lot of money and such, he might not have gotten in,” Brown said. “The fact that he could get into the race, at two turns and at a distance he will love, it’s worth a shot.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the mount on Crowded Trade, while Jose Ortiz has the call on Risk Taking.

(Rombauer / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

McCarthy ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ with Rombauer’s 5F Breeze

John and Diane Fradkin’s homebred colt Rombauer had his final timed workout in preparation for the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday morning, covering five furlongs in 59.80 seconds under jockey Flavien Prat at Santa Anita.

Trainer Michael McCarthy said, “I couldn’t be happier” with the breeze, which was the fourth-fastest of 56 recorded at the distance.

“He worked in company, settled in a length behind the other horse, passed him coming to the eighth pole and went on about his business,” McCarthy said.

Prat will ride the son of Twirling Candy for the first time in a race while making his Preakness debut. Prat entered Saturday tied with Luis Saez for third nationally in races-won at 99 and fourth in purse earnings.

Rombauer, who is scheduled to ship from California to Baltimore on Tuesday, most recently finished third in the April 3 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland. The Kentucky-bred colt previously captured the El Camino Real Derby, a Preakness ‘Win & In’ stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

‘All Systems Go’ for Unbridled Honor Following Half-Mile Breeze

Whisper Hill Farm’s Unbridled Honor tuned up for next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico during a half-mile breeze over the training track at Belmont Park Saturday morning.

With exercise rider Amelia Green aboard, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Honor Code worked in company with stablemate Fearless on his way to a clocking of 49.75 seconds.

“I thought he worked well,” Pletcher said. “He looked good coming to the wire. He cooled out well. It looks like all systems are go, assuming that everything is in good order coming out of the breeze.”

Saturday’s breeze was Unbridled Honor’s second workout since he finished second behind King Fury, beaten 2¾ lengths, in the April 10 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland.

WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc.’s Fearless, who was also credited with a clocking of 49.75 seconds, is scheduled to run in Friday’s $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3). The son of Ghostzapper captured the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) before finishing second in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last time out.

(Trainer D. Wayne Lukas / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Lukas Looking to Even Score with Baffert in Preakness

Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas will attempt to win a record-tying seventh Preakness Stakes (G1) as he runs Christina Baker and Bill Mack’s 3-year-old Ram in the 146th running of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

A victory would pull the 85-year-old Lukas even with Bob Baffert and 19th century Mid-Atlantic training icon Robert Wyndham Walden as the winningest Preakness trainers. Lukas’ first Preakness came in 1980 with his first Triple Crown starter, Codex. His last came in 2013 with Oxbow, whose Preakness victory gave Lukas the lead in Triple Crown races-won with 14, a number his pal Baffert blew by in 2015 with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who coincidentally is Ram’s sire. (Medina Spirit’s victory in the 2021 Derby upped Baffert’s Triple Crown total to 17 wins.)

Lukas said he and Mack made the decision to run Ram in the Preakness during a phone conversation Friday evening. Ram won his second-straight race while taking the mile allowance race that kicked off the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) card at Churchill Downs. Ricardo Santana Jr. picks up the mount.

“We realize he has to step forward to be effective,” Lukas said Saturday morning after Ram trained at Churchill Downs. “But when these horses are doing well, sometimes they’ll step up and do what you want them to do. I always thought this horse had potential. He was immature; he’s a May 13 foal. I bought him as a yearling. I liked him then. He was a little bit feminine, which I like. I gave him plenty of time, waiting for him to come around.”

If Ram should pull off the shocker in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, it would be Lukas’ biggest upset in a long career where he’s made some champions by taking chances. Ram, a $375,000 yearling, won on his eighth attempt, coming in a $50,000 maiden-claiming race at Oaklawn Park.

Still, consider that Charismatic, Lukas’ 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, twice ran in $62,500 claiming races, including when the horse broke his maiden on his sixth attempt, before blossoming into a dual-classic winner. Charismatic was running in stakes races, including taking Keeneland’s Lexington (G2), before his Derby triumph at 31-1 odds. The Preakness will be Ram’s first start in a stakes.

Lukas long has been an ambassador for the Preakness, extolling the atmosphere and Maryland Jockey Club’s hospitality.

“I don’t know if it’s the camaraderie of all being in same barn, it just seems that people loosen up a little bit,” he said. “Take a little off their fastball for that one. They don’t get so caught up like the Derby. It seems like everybody exhales after the Derby. It’s just fun.

“… I don’t have any grandiose ideas, but I think I could surprise some people how well this horse runs,” Lukas added. “I think the horses that ran in the Derby had a hard race. Ram had the most perfect prep for the Preakness you could have. He rated kindly behind those horses, circled them five, six wide and went off and won. Now whether that equates to a big Preakness, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t change a thing about his prep. I know it moved him forward. He’s a better horse after that race. That entered my thinking big time…. And Santana is a strong finisher, and I think that will help me.”

Lukas said he plans to van Ram and his pony Riff to Baltimore on Monday. As usual, Lukas will be riding shotgun and keeping the satellite radio tuned to Willie’s Roadhouse. Speaking of On the Road Again …

“I don’t know how many more of these I’ll have,” Lukas said, adding with a big smile, “But I do have a good 2-year-old.”

(Midnight Bourbon / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Midnight Bourbon Asmussen’s Chance for 3rd Preakness Win

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Midnight Bourbon, sixth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), had another routine gallop shortly after the Churchill Downs track opened for training in preparation for a scheduled start in next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is scheduled to have an easy half-mile work on Monday before shipping to Pimlico Tuesday. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.

The Asmussen stable has a special fondness for the Preakness, the first Triple Crown race that the Hall of Fame trainer won when Derby third-place finisher Curlin wore down Derby winner Street Sense by a head in 2007. Two years later, the filly Rachel Alexandra led all the way to defeat the late-running Derby winner Mine That Bird by a length in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra, who in her prior start won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by 20 lengths, was the first filly to capture Preakness since 1924 and came mere days after going to Asmussen upon her sale to wine mogul Jess Jackson.

Curlin became the 2007-2008 Horse of the Year, followed by Rachel Alexandra in 2010.

Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s chief lieutenant at Churchill Downs, said the Preakness is a tremendous race in its own right.

“It’s by no means a consolation prize. It’s a stallion-maker, a champion-maker. Classic example is Curlin. He drew the inside at the Derby, wasn’t where we wanted him. He closed to be third and the Preakness was the stepping stone for who he became. That’s when everybody started taking him seriously, and you see what kind of stallion he’s turned into. It was a big deal for us,” Blasi said. “Rachel’s Preakness was probably one of the most stressful races, just because we hadn’t had her that long. There was so much pressure. I was actually happy when she drew the 13 hole (staying clear of traffic), and she was good enough to overcome it.”

Medina Spirit, Concert Tour Have ‘Good Training Day’

Zedan Racing Stables’ Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit and Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour engaged in routine gallops Saturday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). Trainer Bob Baffert was to arrive in Louisville later in the day to oversee Concert Tour’s workout and some sort of enhanced training move for Medina Spirit on Sunday morning. Concert Tour hasn’t run since finishing third as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby (G1) four weeks ago.

“They galloped a mile and a half, a good training day,” said Jimmy Barnes, the long-time assistant trainer in charge of Baffert’s horses at Churchill Downs. “The weather was crisp, but they enjoy it like that. Bob will be in (Saturday) night and decide what we’re going to do Sunday.”

Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Keepmeinmind was declared ‘ready’ by assistant trainer Edgar Cortes for the Preakness after a morning gallop at Churchill Downs Saturday.

Robertino Diodoro-trained Keepmeinmind finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

“I’m very excited about him,” Diodoro said by phone. “He’s back to himself. He bounced out of the race great. In the Derby, you don’t want to be happy with a seventh-place finish, but there were a couple of things to take into consideration: One being fanned out into the middle of the racetrack and stuff, but he’s definitely coming back to himself right now. I’ve actually never been this excited about running a horse for a while, and back in two weeks. He’s coming into it really nice.”

Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, who left Japan May 5, is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Race Course Saturday evening for a scheduled start in the Preakness.

Post-Position Draw for 146th Preakness (G1) Monday

Post positions will be drawn and odds assigned Monday at approximately noon for Preakness 146.

The virtual post-position draw can be viewed at Facebook.com/Preakness. Acacia Courtney, Dave Rodman and Naomi Tukker will host.