05/05/2010 12:00AM

Caracortado fresh and ready

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Benoit & Associates
Caracortado has recovered from a foot injury he suffered in the Santa Anita Derby and is on target for the May 15 Preakness.

The dream of running Caracortado in the Kentucky Derby came to an abrupt halt with three furlongs to run in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, when Lookin At Lucky got slammed into the rail and Paul Atkinson, riding Caracortado, slammed on the brakes, lest he risk running up on the heels of Lookin At Lucky.

Caracortado still rallied to finish fourth in the Santa Anita Derby in a deceptively good effort, but he did not make enough money to vault high enough on the list of graded stakes earnings and his chances of making the Derby were practically gone. As it turns out, trainer Mike Machowsky said Wednesday, that was a blessing.

Caracortado came out of the Santa Anita Derby with a foot injury that would have required an accelerated rehabilitation schedule to make the May 1 Derby. Instead, Machowsky took his time, let 20 other 3-year-olds battle it out in the muck and mire at Churchill Downs, and geared up for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes on May 15 at Pimlico.

"Sometimes things just work out for the best," Machowsky said Wednesday morning from his barn at Santa Anita, where Caracortado is based. "He blew an abcess out of his left front foot a few days after the Santa Anita Derby, and it took longer than I would have expected to get it behind him.

"Even if he would have had enough money to make the Derby, I don't think he could have run. But when it didn't look like he would make the Derby, we spent a few extra days working on the foot, getting it cleaned up. We weren't in a panic to make the Derby. After watching them run in the rain and the mud, it was probably the best thing. He's a fresh horse and he's doing well."

Caracortado - a gelding whom Machowsky bred and owns in partnership with Don Blahut - should be a significant new shooter in the Preakness. He won the first five starts of his career before finishing third in the San Felipe Stakes and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. He had excuses in both losses - a brutal trip in the Santa Anita Derby and a paceless race in the San Felipe. He was aggressively campaigned during the winter, with four starts at Santa Anita, all in stakes, and five races in four months. He is fresh, fit, and dangerous now.

"He's back to his old self," Machowsky said.

Although he has made all of his starts in California, where he was born, Caracortado has experience on dirt, having defeated maidens first time out at Fairplex. He also won twice last fall at Hollywood Park over Cushion Track, the state's synthetic surface that most approximates dirt.

For Atkinson, a popular journeyman rider, the Preakness will mark his first mount in a Triple Crown race.

"I'd like to get him back early and get him on something," Machowsky said. "Get the heebie-jeebies out of both of us."

Caracortado is scheduled to work seven furlongs on Saturday at Santa Anita, then fly to Maryland on Wednesday. It will be the first time Machowsky has been to Pimlico since he won the Pimlico Special in 2004 with Southern Image.

In other Preakness developments:

* Super Saver, the Derby winner, stepped onto the racetrack at Churchill Downs for the first time since Saturday when sent out for a light jog at 7 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Over a fast track, and with exercise rider Kevin Willey up, Super Saver probably only exercised for about a half-mile before walking back home.

"He went just like a Derby winner," assistant trainer Michael McCarthy said. "His energy is good. His attitude is good. His appetite is very good."

McCarthy said Super Saver was to have possibly galloped "a little bit" at the same time Thursday and that trainer Todd Pletcher might be in Kentucky for training Friday, "or Saturday at the latest."

Pletcher said that if Super Saver does have a workout in between the Derby and Preakness, it will be Monday at Churchill Downs. Super Saver is scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Wednesday.

* Pletcher also will run Aikenite, the Derby Trial runner-up, in the Preakness. He is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Sunday.

* Bob Baffert said he will decide over the weekend whether to run Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness. He seems less inclined to run Conveyance.

"I would call him questionable," Baffert said Wednesday.

* Despite missing a couple of days of training due to a temperature, A Little Warm remains under consideration for the Preakness, trainer Tony Dutrow said Wednesday. Jockey John Velazquez has the call. A Little Warm, the Louisiana Derby runner-up, is owned by Edward Evans. A Little Warm jogged at Delaware Park on Wednesday and will breeze Sunday or Monday, Dutrow said.

"I will give Mr. Evans the information I have, and he will make a decision on what he's going to do with his horse," Dutrow said.

* Turf Melody, who had been under consideration for the Preakness, will instead run in the Dwyer Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park, trainer Graham Motion said.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee