05/09/2014 12:30PM

General a Rod joins Preakness cast

Barbara Livingston
After finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby, General a Rod will turn around and compete in the May 17 Preakness at Pimlico.

The week of the Kentucky Derby, General a Rod was sold, his new owners desirous of running a second horse in the Derby. General a Rod was in the Derby all right. But he didn’t get a chance to do much running because of a trip that went from bad to worse.

But because General a Rod came out of the Derby so well, he is being wheeled back in two weeks for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17. His presence makes him the third of the 19 Derby runners to declare for the Preakness, including Derby winner California Chrome and Ride On Curlin, who finished seventh.

General a Rod finished 11th in the Derby, marking the first time he had finished out of the money in six starts. Normally on or near the lead, General a Rod was shuffled back early and was 16th a half-mile into the race. He encountered traffic trouble at several points along the 1 1/4-mile journey but was beaten only 8 1/2 lengths.

Trainer Mike Maker on Friday said General a Rod came out of the Derby with more energy than would have been expected, which Maker ascribed to not being able to do much running in the race.

“He was very fresh. We took him back to the track earlier than we normally would have,” Maker said. “When we got him back to the track, he was carrying good flesh. His energy level was good. He’s a big, stout horse. If anyone can come back in two weeks, he can.”

Maker has trained General a Rod throughout his career. This will be Maker’s first Preakness starter.

General a Rod has won twice, his biggest victory coming in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1. In two subsequent starts at Gulfstream, he was second, beaten a head, in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, then third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Florida Derby.

Javier Castellano, who rode General a Rod once previously in the Fountain of Youth, will have the mount in the Preakness, according to Jack Wolf, whose Starlight Racing was part of an ownership group that acquired General a Rod days before the Derby. Starlight also had Intense Holiday in the Derby. He finished 12th and is skipping the Preakness.

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Starlight and Skychai Racing purchased General a Rod from Armando Rodriguez, who named the colt after himself and owned him for his first five starts.

Joel Rosario rode General a Rod in the Derby, but for the Preakness, he is switching to Ride On Curlin, who was ridden in the Derby by Calvin Borel.

“At the worst, I thought he’d be in a stalking position,” Maker said of the Derby. “It just didn’t work out that way. I spoke to Joel after the race, and he expressed a lot of frustration with the trip.”

California Chrome, General a Rod, and Ride On Curlin are scheduled to fly to Maryland on the same flight Monday.

On Friday morning at Churchill Downs, California Chrome had another routine gallop of approximately 1 3/4 miles with exercise rider Willie Delgado aboard. He is expected to have the same schedule through Monday morning, after which he will take a van from Churchill Downs to Lexington, Ky., for the flight to Baltimore.

◗ Trainer Bob Baffert said Rosie Napravnik will ride Bayern in the Preakness.

– additional reporting by David Grening and Byron King