(Trainer Dale Romans will saddle Everfast for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

From the Pimlico Media Team:

Calumet Farm’s Everfast became a last-minute addition to Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, bringing the field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to 13 horses. Joel Rosario, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) on Orb and the 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) on Tonalist, has the mount.

“It’s a wide-open field, take a shot,” trainer Dale Romans said by phone from Louisville.

Romans saddled Shackleford for a triumph in the 2011 Preakness Stakes.

Everfast, a son of Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy, figures to be a huge long shot, having finished fifth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, ninth in the Florida Derby and eighth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park. However, four races back he was a good second at 128-1 odds in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull Stakes (G2).

“He jumped up and ran big in the Holy Bull,” Romans said. “When he runs big, he runs big. We’re hoping he throws in one of those big races. Some of the top contenders are missing, so we’ll take a chance. He’s training like he did before the Holy Bull. We’re going to try to wheel him back off the sprint and see if we can get a piece of it. You’ve got a future Hall of Fame rider, so we might as well take a shot.”

Romans said Everfast would van to Pimlico.

Calumet Farm, now owned by Brad Kelley, won the 2013 Preakness Stakes with the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Oxbow for a record-extending eighth triumph in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

(Bodexpress before this year’s KY Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Bodexpress & Others:

Trainer Gustavo Delgado hopes he’ll be partying like it’s 1888 after the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.

The Delgado-trained Bodexpress will go to post in search of his first career victory Saturday in a quest to become the first maiden to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown since Refund defeated three rivals in 1888.

Bodexpress finished second in three of his first five races, including a runner-up finish in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream behind Maximum Security, who went on to finish first in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1), only to be disqualified and placed 17th.

“I think in his [first] five races, he had bad luck. He came to win three times,” said Delgado, the all-time winningest trainer in his native Venezuela before venturing to South Florida five years ago.

In his race prior to his sharp showing in the Florida Derby, Bodexpress was bumped at the start and raced four wide before closing strongly to finish second, a neck behind the winner.

The son of Bodemeister, who was one of the horses that took the worst of things after Maximum Security drifted to the outside on the turn into the homestretch, finished 14th and was placed 13th in the Derby, in which he broke alertly from his far-outside post position and was forwardly placed before being taken up sharply on the turn entering the stretch..

“The race was very, very crazy. [Bodexpress] had bad luck,” Delgado said. “I think the horse ran a good race. Now, in the morning, he’s been very good. The rider said he’s happy, happy all the time.”

Bodexpress, who is owned by GDS Stable, Top Racing LLC and Global Thoroughbred, had a leisurely gallop at Pimlico Wednesday on the morning after arriving at Pimlico following a flight from Lexington, Ky.

“Gulfstream’s track is fast, very fast. This track seems like Gulfstream. Churchill Downs is a little deeper,” said Delgado, who expressed pleasure with Bodexpress’ introduction to the Pimlico track Wednesday morning. “This horse likes a fast track.”

Prior to Refund’s triumph by a length over an unnamed runner-up programmed as Bertha B. colt, five other maidens were victorious in the Preakness – Survivor (1873), Culpepper (1874), Shirley (1876), Cloverbrook (1877) and Saunterer (1881) – according to Allan Carter, historian at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Laoban, the most recent maiden to run in the Preakness, finished sixth of 11 at 65-1 odds in 2016 and would go on to break his maiden in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga 2 ½ months later.

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Bodexpress for the first time Saturday.

(Anothertwistafate / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Anothertwistafate ‘Sharp’ on First Morning at Pimlico

Peter Redekop B.C. Ltd.’s Anothertwistafate completed his transcontinental trip to Pimlico Tuesday evening and took his first steps on the track surface for Saturday’s 144th Preakness about 11 hours later on Wednesday morning.

Anothertwistafate is the first Preakness starter for veteran owner Redekop, a prominent real estate developer in Vancouver, B.C., and the first Triple Crown horse developed by 44-year-old trainer Blaine Wright. The Scat Daddy colt flew from Oakland, Calif. to Newark, N.J. and rode in a van for the final leg of his journey to Baltimore. Wright’s crew was waiting for him when he arrived at 8 p.m.

Wright said Anothertwistafate looked like he handled the trip well and was ready to get out of his stall for some light exercise at Pimlico. He went out to the track a little after 7 a.m.

“We turned the corner here and he was just getting up from a roll and actually squealed and bucked and played,” Wright said. “He was right at the front of the stall and was biting at us. We checked his (feed) tub; it was good. He seemed awfully sharp, so we just decided to take him out and let him stretch his legs for a little jog and have a little green grass.”

Anothertwistafate made one slow turn around the track. He is scheduled to gallop and school in the gate Thursday and Friday.

Redekop’s team acquired the colt for $360,000 as a 2-year-old at the OBS June 2018 sale and sent him to Wright, who is based year-round at Golden Gate Fields, the Bay Area track in Northern California. He was ninth in his debut at Santa Anita in November, but then reeled off three impressive wins at Golden Gate, topped by a seven-length victory in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 16. The El Camino Real Derby is a “win and in” race for the Preakness.

Wright sent Anothertwistafate on the Kentucky Derby prep trail, where he was second by a neck in the Sunland Derby (G3) and second by 1 ¾ lengths in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. With that seasoning, the trip across country this week was not a concern.

“He flew over to us from Florida so he already had the experience of flying,” Wright said. “He went to Sunland and then on to Lexington and back to Golden Gate. He knows what the deal is. Most of these horses do at this stage of the game. They’ve done it. They’re smart. He seems to travel good. He’s not one that gets real bothered by that and that’s a good thing.”

Wright said that having the El Camino Real Derby and the Preakness linked for the first time this year was a huge factor in getting his colt to the Triple Crown and preparing for the race.

“We got to run at our home base and showcase our horse and now we’re here,” he said. “If we can do good here maybe more people will use that type of a race for Golden Gate and put them on the map a little bit more as a springboard to the Preakness. If it’s successful, you would figure they would come back and do it again.”

Knowing that Anothertwistafate was assured a Preakness berth but probably was short of Kentucky Derby qualifying points enabled Wright to take him back to California and prepare for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“For us, that was one of the deciding factors of whether to wait for the Derby and see if we got in versus coming here, a ‘win and you’re in’ type of thing,” he said. “That speaks volumes when you can get into a race and it doesn’t cost you as much. And the two-week run back was a huge concern if we didn’t run good (in the Derby) because then you kind of spoil your plans for the race you are paid into. That was a big, big factor.”

The El Camino Real Derby was one of three qualifying races for this year’s Preakness with the Federico Tesio, won by Alwaysmining at Laurel Park, and the inaugural Oaklawn Park Invitational won by Laughing Fox.

(Signalman / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Signalman Gets Acquainted with Pimlico Track

Signalman got his first look at Pimlico Race Course early Wednesday morning while galloping 1 ¼ miles under trainer Kenny McPeek’s assistant and exercise rider Danny Ramsey.

“He’s beautiful; he loved it,’’ said Ramsey. “We’re very optimistic coming into the weekend. The horse is doing great.”

Signalman, who did not earn enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby (G1), arrived at Pimlico on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1).

McPeek was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico later Wednesday. Ramsey indicated plans called for morning gallops in the days before the race for Signalman, who finished third in the Blue Grass (G2) and comes into the 1 3/16-mile Preakness fresh.

“I’ve been with him since he was a 2-year-old,” said Ramsey.  “When I first got on him, he reminded me of Sky Mesa. At that time, I didn’t even know Sky Mesa was his grandfather, and that was one of the best horses I’ve ever been on.”

Signalman will be McPeek’s fifth Preakness starter, his best finish coming in 2017 when Senior Investment finished third.

A son of General Quarters, Signalman has been consistent throughout his career, with a pair of wins, including a Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) score, two seconds and two thirds from seven starts. The bay colt will be ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr.

“We’ve done everything there is to do to get the horse ready,” said Ramsey. “All the rider has to do now is win the race.”

(War of Will / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Casse Expects War of Will ‘to be Extremely Tough’ in Preakness

On a crisp, sunny Wednesday morning , exercise rider Kim Carroll guided War of Will to the track at Pimlico Race Course with trainer Mark Casse walking close behind.

After a jog followed by a leisurely gallop around the track, Gary Barber’s War of Will was led back to the Preakness Stakes Barn, cooled down,  posed for photos, and received  a sponge bath from Casse’s crew.

All systems are go for Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes.

“Right now, it’s just about being happy. We’re not going for any type of fitness,” said Casse, seeking his first win in a Triple Crown race. “We’re just letting him get over the track and regain some of the energy he used in the Derby. Then, of course, we vanned here. We’re just going for leisurely gallops. He looked nice today. He relaxed a little better today than he did in Kentucky, even galloping.”

War of Will finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and was placed seventh after Maximum Security finished first but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Country House finished second but was declared the winner.

War of Will won the LeComte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) but ran ninth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). In the Kentucky Derby, War of Will checked heading into the final turn in tight quarters with Maximum Security and did not get back into contention.

For the Preakness, Casse is hoping jockey Tyler Gaffalione can be “somewhere farther off the rail so he (War of Will) can relax.”

“We want him close, but some of his best races have been outside. So we’d like to see him outside, and it looks like there’s fair amount of speed out there [in the Preakness].

All is good, said Casse, adding that “unless something changes in the next few days, I think we’re going to be extremely tough.”

(Owendale / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Cox Expecting Big Efforts from Owendale, Warrior’s Charge

Trainer Brad Cox is quietly confident that Owendale, who won the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland, and Warrior’s Charge, an Oaklawn Park allowance winner, will offer big performances in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. The stablemates complement each other, with Owendale a closer and Warrior’s Charge having won his last two starts on the lead.

“They’re both doing well,” Cox said by phone from Churchill Downs, where Owendale and Warrior’s Charge both had a schooling session at the starting gate as part of their Wednesday training session before flying from Louisville to Baltimore. “They stood in the gate this morning, and we’re pleased with how they’re training. We have confidence with both of them. Given just the way they’re training and have been working, we expect big efforts out of them.”

Owendale and Warrior’s Charge, along with fellow Preakness contenders Improbable and Laughing Fox, are scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Wednesday afternoon after arriving at Baltimore Washington International Airport on a flight that originated in Louisville, Ky.

Both horses will race an eighth-mile farther than they have before in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness as Cox has his first starters in a Triple Crown race.

“It’s a question mark with both of them, actually,” he said. “Owendale is out of a Bernardini mare, and Bernardini obviously won the (2006) Preakness. With his running style, he can possibly get it from the looks of his last race, how he finished extremely well going a mile and a sixteenth and galloped out well.

“It’s probably a little bit more of a question mark with Warrior’s Charge,” Cox added. “He’s a speed horse. A lot is going to be determined by what he can do up front, how fast the pace will be, where he’ll be in relation to the pace. We’ll just have to see how the race unfolds. Same thing with Owendale. Yeah, I think he can get a mile and three-sixteenths if they go really quick up front and he gets a nice trip, can circle horses and come running. It’s all about pace. Pace makes the race is the bottom line.”

Laughing Fox Has ‘Gotten Better with Racing’

Laughing Fox, who figures to be closing late in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico, was scheduled to fly to Baltimore from Louisville Wednesday afternoon.

The son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags started to come into his own over the winter at Oaklawn Park, which also coincided with being sent around two turns.

Laughing Fox whipped off maiden and allowance victories before finishing seventh in a division of the Rebel Stakes (G2), fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1), and then capturing the $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational the same day as the Kentucky Derby. That earned the flashy-looking chestnut an automatic entry into the Preakness Stakes.

“He ran very well in the Arkansas Derby,” said assistant trainer Darren Fleming, who was with Laughing Fox all winter while overseeing trainer Steve Asmussen’s Oaklawn operation. “That was an encouraging race; he got in a little trouble. If you watch it, he had to alter course a couple of times and he finished up nice that day. That’s when the light bulb went off. Then he came back and ran really well. He’s a horse who has progressed very well through the year, except for the one setback with the Rebel (G2).”

Laughing Fox twice lost to Omaha Beach, the Arkansas Derby winner who was the Kentucky Derby favorite until being sidelined with a breathing obstruction the week of the race. Also in the Arkansas Derby was runner-up Improbable, the likely Preakness favorite, while finishing third was Country House, who wound up being declared the Kentucky Derby winner.

“He’s just gotten better with racing every time, kind of learned his style,” Fleming said. “I mean, Laughing Fox has kept good company all year, if you just look around.”

Market King Provides 44th Preakness Starter for Lukas  

Time tends to stand still at the far end of the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ base of operations for almost 40 years.

Now an elder statesman of the sport, Lukas was a brash up-and-comer in Thoroughbred racing when he brought Codex to the 1980 Preakness (G1). Codex was assigned Stall 18, gave Lukas the first of his six Preakness wins and 14 Triple Crown victories and that part of the barn  has been Lukas territory ever since. Wednesday morning Lukas sat in a chair at the edge of the shedrow and kept an eye on Market King, his record 44th Preakness runner, as he peered out of Stall 18 and fiddled with his hay net.

Lukas, 83, accompanied the colt, co-owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, on a day-long trip by van from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course Tuesday and began his local preparations for the 144th Preakness. Typically, Lukas sent his colt out early Wednesday, shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m. under exercise rider Brooke Stillion.

“I jogged him a lap and galloped him a mile,” Lukas said. “I wasn’t going to take him because I figured after an 11-hour road trip it might be good to give him a walk day. But he was also sharp and kind of touted me that I should do a little something with him.”

Market King was third in a division of the Rebel (G2) March 16 and was on the Kentucky Derby trail until he was 11th in the Blue Grass (G2) on April 6. He was scratched from the Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day, May 4, and has had two sharp five-furlong breezes since.

“He’s a fresh horse,” Lukas said. “I think he’s probably on his game pretty good.”

The Preakness is a high-profile proving ground for Market King, a son of Into Mischief, who Baker and Mack acquired for $550,000 as a yearling.

“We’re trying to find out something here,” Lukas said. “I know he is a really nice, talented miler. I want to try here because I think if he’s going to get a mile and three-sixteenths he’s probably going to get it here.  At least it will be a good test against world-class competition, the ones that are showing up here. It will answer some questions whether we’re going to start running in the King’s Bishop (G1) [the seven-furlong race at Saratoga renamed the Allen Jerkens] or the Travers (G1) or the Ohio Derby (G3). We’re trying to find that out.”

Veteran Jon Court, 58, who has been up on the colt for three of his eight career races, will be aboard in the Preakness.

(Win Win Win / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Win Win Win Due Thursday Morning for Preakness

Win Win Win will have one more routine gallop at Fair Hill Training Center Thursday morning before embarking on the one-hour, 20-minute van ride to historic Pimlico Race Course for the $1.65 million Preakness (G1) on Saturday.

“He is a good shipper,” trainer Michael Trombetta said of Live Oak Plantation’s homebred son of Hat Trick, who has logged a considerable amount of road miles traveling from his home base to Florida and Kentucky and back to Maryland, compiling a 3-2-1 record from seven starts and a bankroll of $367,300. “He’s got a good mind. He acts like the colt he is, but he’s good to be around. He does everything you tell him to.”

The leggy dark bay colt kicked off this 3-year-old campaign by setting a seven-furlong Tampa Bay Downs track record (1:20.89) in winning the Pasco and then proved he could handle two turns in finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and second in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.  He was not a factor in the Kentucky Derby (G1), finishing 10th and being moved up to ninth via disqualification but has been training and acting “really well” since returning to Fair Hill.

“He’s really had a good week since the Derby,” said Trombetta. “We’re hoping for some racing luck.”

Alwaysmining, who is also stabled at Fair Hill Training Center, will also van to Pimlico Thursday morning.

Everfast Joins 144th Preakness Stakes Field

Calumet Farm’s Everfast became a last-minute addition to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1), bringing the field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to 13 horses. Joel Rosario, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) on Orb and the 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) on Tonalist, has the mount.

“It’s a wide-open field, take a shot,” trainer Dale Romans said by phone from Louisville.

Romans saddled Shackleford for a triumph in the 2011 Preakness Stakes.

Everfast is scheduled to arrive by van from Louisville.

Mark Hennig-trained Bourbon War arrived by van from New York Wednesday afternoon.

Alwaysmining & Trainer Kelly Rubley:

When the 2000s began, Kelly Rubley seemed destined for a life of academia. But, even as she climbed the ladder from middle school science teacher to administrator, the horses kept calling.

Before the decade was over, Rubley answered the call. She left behind the security of a career in education for the unpredictability of Thoroughbred racing, and hasn’t looked back.

“You can try to get horses out of your life, but you just can’t do it,” Rubley said. “Once you start, they’re always there.”

In just her fifth full year as a trainer, Rubley has the chance to make racing history and become the first female trainer to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) when she saddles Runnymede Racing’s multiple-stakes winner Alwaysmining for a start in Saturday’s Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.

Already, Rubley is in elite company. To be run for the 144th time Saturday, the Preakness has previously featured only 15 female trainers, and none since Kid Cruz ran eighth for New York-based Linda Rice in 2014.

Nancy Alberts had the best finish for a female trainer when 45-1 long shot Magic Weisner ran second by less than a length to Kentucky Derby (G1) winner War Emblem in 2002. Like Magic Weisner, Alwaysmining has the chance to be the first Maryland-bred to win the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983, and just the ninth overall.

“That’s an exciting aspect. It certainly will be a great accomplishment for women in the industry if we’re very successful here. Sure, it plays a role,” Rubley said. “I think the biggest struggle is when we’re first starting out, it’s tough to earn a little bit of respect as a woman in the business.

“But, I feel like most people have been very fair and offered me an equal opportunity as most men. Certainly there’s always a few, but honestly there’s nothing we can do about it so we just move forward,” she added. “I think women are becoming more accepted in the industry at this point. It’s a male-dominated sport, for sure.”

Runnymede’s Greg and Caroline Bentley are huge fans of Rubley. After purchasing Alwaysmining privately following his maiden victory last summer, they ran the horse once with trainer Eddie Graham – who trained their 2014 Arlington Million (G1) winner Hardest Core – before joining forces with Rubley.

The results have been spectacular. After Alwaysmining finished off the board in his first start for Rubley in the Laurel Futurity on grass, the 3-year-old Stay Thirsty gelding has reeled off six straight wins, five of them in stakes, capped by an 11 ½-length romp in the Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel Park, earning him an automatic berth in the Preakness.

“What a wonderful story there is around Kelly and her operation and her people here. An entrepreneur, advanced degrees, and certainly a student of what she does. We don’t know everything, we continue to learn more, and that’s been the case,” Greg Bentley said.

“I think a factor also for a trainer is, we’re observing this and learning it ourselves, is to be of good empathy with the horses, which is obviously the case, but also with the people who are here in this operation,” he added. “That’s what, in business, bringing it all together requires – getting people and horses to do the right thing, and Kelly has excelled at that.”

Caroline Bentley feels Rubley’s background plays a large part in her success. A native of the small central New York town of Pulaski, N.Y., not far from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, Rubley graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry, later earning Master’s degrees in secondary education and administration.

Following graduation, Rubley found work teaching eighth-grade physical science and biology near her hometown for seven years before making the switch to administrator, a position she held for another three until the urge to follow her dream became too strong to resist.

“Kelly’s a scientist. She’s looking for data. She’s looking for more information,” Caroline Bentley said. “She never comes with a preconceived notion about anything. It’s always, ‘What can we find out?’”

Rubley took a job fox hunting on a farm in Unionville, Pa. before finding her way to Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where she became an exercise rider for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Barclay Tagg in 2009. Within a year she was Tagg’s assistant, traveling to New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.

She had fallen in love with Fair Hill and was looking for an opportunity to put down roots, and it arrived when Justin Nicholson of Ninety North Racing Stable purchased a barn at the training facility. His primary trainer was Jimmy Toner, who needed someone to look after his Maryland horses.

Enter Rubley. She jumped at the chance and worked for Toner for three years before going out on her own in December 2014. She earned her first career win April 13, 2014 at Pimlico with St. Alban’s Boy while still in Toner’s employ, and last year set personal highs with 38 wins and nearly $1.8 million in purse earnings from 269 starters.

“Since I was able to walk I wanted to ride horses, so horses have always been an aspect of my life,” Rubley said. “We were limited [in New York] and I started out on the quarter horse circuit, actually, which led to hunter-jumpers. Then I had an event horse later on and started finding this area. I was shipping down here every weekend to compete and when I decided to make a change, this is the area I decided to locate to.”

Rubley handles a string of about 40 horses now, including multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero, who gave the trainer her lone graded-stakes victory in the 2018 Arlington Handicap (G3). Her experience with him, as well as her former mentors, prepared Rubley for when Alwaysmining came along.

“When I was an assistant we had some nice horses, when I was with Barclay and Jimmy Toner. It’s a horse and you treat him the same,” she said. “But we got lucky with this one.”

Alwaysmining kicked off his win streak with a front-running 10-length romp over a sloppy and sealed main track last October at Laurel, giving his connections the first real confirmation of what they had on their hands.

Since then, his beaten rivals have included Tremont Stakes winner Our Braintrust in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity, record-setting Pasco Stakes winner and fellow Preakness contender Win Win Win in the Heft Stakes, and UAE Derby (G2) runner-up and Kentucky Derby starter Gray Magician.

“He’s very easy-going. He takes everything in stride. Sadly, I cannot take any credit for that,” Rubley said. “When he ran in the allowance race that was maybe the turning point for us to say, ‘Wow, this is a really nice horse.’ We always thought a great deal of him and then he put in such a beautiful effort and continued to progress from there. And here we are.”

Soft-spoken and even-keeled, Rubley has not allowed herself to think about what it would be like to be the first female trainer to win the Preakness, or add a Triple Crown race victory to her resume. Like her horse, she’s taking everything as it comes.

“Of course, we’re excited. But, we’re not there yet. We’ll talk on Saturday,” she said. “We’re hoping. We’re hoping.”