05/06/2008 11:00PM

El Gato Malo will skip Preakness

Email
Benoit & Associates
El Gato Malo will make his next start in Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby.

El Gato Malo is out of consideration for the 133rd Preakness Stakes on May 17, Recapturetheglory is still on the fence, and Riley Tucker might join the cast. Those were the significant developments Tuesday regarding the second leg of the Triple Crown, in which Big Brown will be a heavy favorite following his powerful victory in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday.

El Gato Malo has not raced since finishing fifth as the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby on April 5. On Tuesday, trainer Craig Dollase said he and Terry Finley, the head of the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership that owns El Gato Malo, decided to instead run this Saturday in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby. Lone Star's 1 1/16-mile distance, compared to the 1 3/16 miles of the Preakness, was among the points in its favor, Dollase said.

"He's proven at that distance," Dollase said. "This will be his first time shipping and the first time he'll race on conventional dirt. We're throwing a couple of new things at him. It just looks like a good spot. I want to give him a chance. If he takes to the dirt, it opens up new opportunities. Plus, being a gelding, I want him to have a long, long career. I'd love to be running him as an 8-year-old."

Finley said: "If he were a colt and eventually a stallion, we probably would be headed to the Preakness."

Recapturetheglory, like Big Brown, has remained at Churchill Downs since the Derby, in which Recapturetheglory finished fifth. Louie Roussel, who trains and is the co-owner of Recapturetheglory, on Tuesday said he was still weighing whether to run in the $1 million Preakness. He said one of his options is the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby on May 31 at Thistledown.

"That gives him a little more time," Roussel said.

Recapturetheglory lost his composure in the paddock at Churchill Downs, then threw jockey E.T. Baird while coming through the tunnel to the track, thus delaying the arrival of the final three Derby runners for the post parade. Preakness runners saddle on the turf course at Pimlico, which Roussel finds alluring.

"They saddle in the open there, which is a big advantage," Roussel said. "He had a terrible problem in the paddock. Was it worth 11 lengths? Hell no. But he was lunging, throwing the rider off. He tried to throw himself on the ground. He left his race in the paddock. That would take a lot out of any horse."

Roussel also believes that getting post 18, which forced Recapturetheglory to race wide, inhibited his ability to finish closer to Big Brown.

"I'd love to get a better post where he's not three or four wide," Roussel said.

Recapturetheglory was also among the nominees announced Tuesday for the $100,000 Barbaro Stakes on the Preakness undercard. Besides Big Brown, Recapturetheglory is the only Derby runner under consideration for the Preakness. Citation in 1948 was the last Derby winner to not face any other Derby runners in the Preakness.

Roussel won the Preakness 20 years ago with Risen Star.

In addition to Big Brown, the only other confirmed Preakness starters are Behindatthebar, Giant Moon, Kentucky Bear, Stevil, Tres Borrachos, and Yankee Bravo. Trainer Nick Zito said John Velazquez would ride Stevil, who finished fourth most recently in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

In addition to Recapturetheglory, those listed as possible for the Preakness are Harlem Rocker, Macho Again, and Riley Tucker, who finished third to Behindatthebar most recently in the Lexington Stakes. Edgar Prado has the mount on Riley Tucker, according to Pimlico's publicity department.

Macho Again won the Derby Trial in his last start April 26. He is also under consideration for the Ohio Derby, Finley said.