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| | Preakness Stakes Field Expands To 12
Desormeaux Returns To Maryland With Kentucky Derby Winner
HEY BYRN, ICABAD CRANE AND RILEY TUCKER JOIN PREAKNESS PARTY
BALTIMORE, 05-09-08---Twenty-one years ago Kent Desormeaux announced his presence with authority in Maryland by winning 450 races. Two years later he broke the all-time single season mark by reaching the winners’ circle 598 times. He then left the state for greener pastures. Next Saturday, the 38-year-old returns in the 133rd running of the Preakness® Stakes (Grade I) as a Kentucky Derby champion for the third time after guiding Big Brown to victory six days ago.
“Everyone knows how excited people get for the Kentucky Derby. Well I get just as excited or even more about the Preakness,” said Desormeaux from New York this morning. “I may have grown up in Maurice, Louisiana but I grew up in the industry at Pimlico and Laurel Park. So to come there and get to ride in Maryland’s signature event is really important to me personally.”
Ten years ago, Desormeaux rode Real Quiet to Preakness glory and also has three second place finishes in the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown with nine other mounts-Free House (1997), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Sweetnorthernsaint (2006). It was the lackluster performance by Fusaichi Pegasus, who won the Derby and was the prohibitive 1-5 favorite that keeps the rider humble about Big Brown’s Triple Crown aspirations.
“It is still stressful. The butterflies are going to be there,” added Desormeaux, who ranks 23rd on the all-time win list with 4,971 victories. “We just don’t know how resilient the horse is. We don’t know if he gets into a dogfight that he’ll just say ‘not this time I’ll catch you next time’. That’s what is so awesome about the Triple Crown and the 11 horses who have accomplished the feat. It takes an absolute freak to be ready to go again in two weeks.”
Now in his 30th year as a rider Mario Pino spent three years riding side-by-side with Desormeaux and knew immediately that the Cajun’ Kid had superstar potential.
“The first time I saw Kent ride when he had the bug it was evident he had a ton of talent,” said Pino, who ranks 14th on the all-time win list with 6,063 victories, including 4,861 in Maryland. “Not only the ability to ride but also the instincts and athleticism. I thought he had a chance to be a Hall of Famer if everything went right.”
“I wish he would have told me that when I was 16 years old,” joked Desormeaux. “Maybe I would have been able to settle down a little bit. I am honored and humbled to have those words come out of his mouth and glad I could make him right.”
For the third consecutive morning, Big Brown jogged a mile at Churchill Downs with Michelle Nevin up. Outfitted with new hind shoes, Big Brown jogged alongside a pony over a track labeled sloppy by more overnight rain. A major deluge on Wednesday night had left the track muddy on Thursday.
“I would have galloped these last two days, but I won’t gallop him with the track like that,” trainer Rick Dutrow said.
The Derby winner will be arriving in Baltimore late Wednesday afternoon. Six days after Big Brown delivered the impressive victory at Churchill, his rider was still in amazement.
“It was so obvious the separation when I encouraged Big Brown to go,” said Desormeaux, who rode in his first Preakness in 1988. “He just left the field and that’s what I have been awed about this whole week with what kind of talent I am dealing with. The horse is really, really fast.”
The list of runners set to test Big Brown grew today as Hey Byrn, Icabad Crane and Riley Tucker are now confirmed starters upping the field for $1 million classic to 12 that includes Behindatthebar, Giant Moon, Kentucky Bear, Racecar Rhapsody, Recapturetheglory, Stevil, Tres Borrachos and Yankee Bravo. A decision on Harlem Rocker is expected over the weekend.
Icabad Crane won the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 19 for trainer Graham Motion. Motion had originally planned on running the Earle Mack owned son of Jump Start in the $100,000 Barbaro Stakes on the Preakness undercard. Jeremy Rose, who captured the 2005 Preakness aboard Afleet Alex, has the call.
This morning Eddie Plesa informed Pimlico racing officials that Hey Byrn, who won the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfsteam Park on April 12, would be bound for the Preakness. On Sunday, the Calder-based conditioner announced the son of Put It Back would be headed to the $300,000 Ohio Derby (Grade II) on May 31 at Thistledown.
“The decision to run in the Preakness was made by his owner Mrs. (Beatrice) Oxenberg,” Plesa said. “She has family up in Baltimore and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t come. She said she wants to come and taste the crab cakes. We were going to run in the Derby but we didn’t get in.”
Plesa has yet to name a rider. The horse will be leaving Florida via van on Monday morning along with Gotcha Gold, who will be running in the $250,000 Maryland Lottery Pimlico Special (Grade I) next Friday.
Zayat Stables informed Pimlico stakes coordinator that Riley Tucker is headed to Baltimore for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The Bill Mott trainee has finished in the money six times in seven lifetime starts. Former Maryland riding star Edgar Prado will be aboard the son of Harlan’s Holiday.
In other news, trainer Dallas Stewart said Friday morning that West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again would bypass the Preakness and instead point to the Ohio Derby.
Kentucky Bear remains the only Preakness runner at Pimlico. This morning the Reade Baker trainee jogged for the second consecutive day with exercise rider Cassie Garcia. Kentucky Bear is scheduled to drill five furlongs Saturday immediately after the renovation break (8:30 a.m), weather permitting.
Racers Rhapsody and Harlem Rocker are also scheduled to work Saturday at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park respectively. Trainer Todd Pletcher indicated a decision on whether or not to run the undefeated Harlem Rocker in the Preakness will be made after the breeze. The winner of the Withers is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. chairman Frank Stronach, who also owns Pimlico.
“The only horse that I could have respect for going into the race would be Todd’s white horse (Harlem Rocker),” said Rick Dutrow, who trains the Derby winner. “I seen him run last time and he looked very good. He’s three for three. He’s got a little buzz about him. That’s about as far as it goes as I see it. If our horse can just get over the two week thing and basically go out there and run the way he has been running he’s going to be tough to beat.”
“Let’s not get Big Brown in the Hall of Fame too soon here. He certainly was the best of those horses (in the Derby),” countered Reade Baker. “What I’d be more concerned with, where Big Brown is vulnerable, if we were handicapping any other race, the handicapper would say there’s a horse that carried 126 and he’s going to run back in two weeks off a peak effort. The wise guys would say he’s going to bounce. How come he can’t bounce now?”
Recapturetheglory, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, nearly 12 lengths behind Big Brown, will leave Louisville Saturday evening. The rest of the field will arrive during Preakness week.
The post position draw for the Preakness is Wednesday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at the ESPN Zone in downtown Baltimore. The event will be televised live on ESPN.
The 133rd running of the Preakness on May 17 will be televised by NBC. Post time is 6:15 p.m.
Horse Racing Radio Network has exclusive rights to the Preakness broadcast and has more than 40 affiliates around the country. Baltimore’s WBAL Radio (AM 1090) will have full day coverage of the Preakness, including Dave Rodman’s call.
CONFIRMED PREAKNESS STARTERS
HORSE.. TRAINER.. JOCKEY.. LAST START
Big Brown.. Rick Dutrow.. Kent Desormeaux.. Kentucky Derby, 1st
Behindatthebar.. Todd Pletcher.. David Flores.. Lexington, 1st
Giant Moon.. Rick Schosberg.. Ramon Dominguez.. Wood Memorial, 4th
Hey Byrn.. Eddie Plesa.. TBA.. Holy Bull, 1st
Icabad Crane.. Graham Motion.. Jeremy Rose.. Tesio, 1st
Kentucky Bear.. Reade Baker.. Jamie Theriot.. Blue Grass, 3rd
Racecar Rhapsody.. Kenny McPeek.. Robby Albarado.. Lexington, 4th
Recapturetheglory.. Louis Roussel.. E.T. Baird.. Kentucky Derby, 5th
Riley Tucker.. Bill Mott.. Edgar Prado.. Lexington, 3rd
Stevil.. Nick Zito.. John Velazquez.. Blue Grass, 4th
Tres Borrachos.. Beau Greely.. Tyler Baze.. Arkansas Derby, 3rd
Yankee Bravo .. Paddy Gallagher.. Alex Solis.. Santa Anita Derby, 4th
POSSIBLE PREAKNESS STARTERS
HORSE.. TRAINER.. JOCKEY.. LAST START
Harlem Rocker.. Todd Pletcher.. Eibar Coa.. Withers, 1st
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