05/09/2008 12:00AM

Hey Byrn joins Preakness field


Add Hey Byrn's name to the growing list of 3-year-olds heading for Baltimore for the 133rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17.

Despite the imposing presence of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, the prospective field for the Preakness is now nearing the limit of 14 starters with the news that trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. will ship Hey Byrn from his home base at Calder Race Course for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

"We were looking at the Ohio Derby, but the owner wants to run in the Preakness so that's where he'll go," said Plesa, who trains Hey Byrn for longtime owner Bea Oxenberg.

Hey Byrn had been under consideration for a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby, but with only $140,000 in graded earnings, he could not make the cut to enter the oversubscribed field. A son of Put It Back, Hey Byrn is coming off an easy victory in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on April 12, a race decided at the same 1 3/16-mile distance as the Preakness. Earlier this winter, Hey Byrn posted a pair of one-sided allowance wins at Gulfstream Park before finishing a well-beaten fourth behind Big Brown in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

"Obviously we know what we're getting into going up against a horse like Big Brown," said Plesa, who has horses stabled at Calder and Monmouth Park this winter. "But take him out of the equation and everyone else pretty much looks equal."

Plesa said Hey Byrn would van to Pimlico on Monday accompanied by stablemate Gottcha Gold, who will run in the Pimlico Special. Hey Byrn had his last major tuneup for the Preakness this past Monday when he worked a mile in 1:45 at Calder.

"He's done pretty much everything he needs to do to be ready for this race," said Plesa.

One thing Plesa does not have lined up yet is a jockey for Hey Byrn in the Preakness.

"Because we made a late decision to run, we're still searching for a rider," Plesa said. "Our first choice was Edgar Prado, who has already won two races on the colt, but he's not available. We're scouting around and hopefully will have something firmed up within the next 24 hours."