05/19/2016 11:10AM

Preakness: After spring of change, Brei hopes to make splash with Fellowship

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Barbara D. Livingston
Preakness contender Fellowship is among the horses Fred Brei transferred to Mark Casse.

BALTIMORE – Owner Fred Brei and trainer Stanley Gold enjoyed a lot of success during a decade-long association together, including winning an Eclipse Award with Awesome Feather, the 2-year-old champion filly of 2010.

But that relationship ended in early April, with Brei moving about 30 horses to trainer Mark Casse. Neither Brei nor Gold would go into detail about the cause of their breakup, but it is clear that both have moved on.

“Stanley wished to change his operation, I wished not to go with the change,” Brei said this week. “It’s that simple.”

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Gold, who now trains for Pinnacle Racing Stables, simply refused to discuss the situation.

Among the horses Brei moved to Casse is Fellowship, who after not being able to get into the Kentucky Derby is one of 10 challengers facing the undefeated Derby winner, Nyquist, in Saturday’s 141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

This will be Fellowship’s second time facing Nyquist. He finished third, 4 1/4 lengths behind him, in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. That race was run over a wet track. Saturday’s Preakness could very well be run over a wet surface.

“We ran against Nyquist on a speed-favoring track at Gulfstream and lost by four lengths,” Brei said. “I have no idea how a heavily rained-on track at Pimlico will play. I don’t know what kind of track that is. All I can say is nine-tenths of those horses have never been on Pimlico Race Course when it’s drenched. We’ll all find out.”

Brei races and breeds under the banner Jacks or Better Farm, and he is the breeder of Fellowship, a son of Awesome of Course. Though he was handy enough to win a 4 1/2-furlong race at Gulfstream Park last May in his debut, Fellowship is truly a two-turn horse. Last September at Gulfstream, he rallied from last of 14 to win a Florida Sire Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths.

When matched against tougher opponents in graded stakes during Gulfstream’s winter meet, Fellowship finished third in all three races, twice to then-division leader Mohaymen in the Fountain of Youth and Holy Bull.

“He is a deep closer; all of his races were run on a speed-favoring track,” Brei said. “The odds were against him coming out of the gate at Gulfstream.”

The transition to Casse gives Brei more flexibility on where his horses will be based. Casse has stables in Kentucky, New York, and Florida.

“I’ve never had the continuity of changing locations without changing trainers,” Brei said.

Most of Brei’s horses are based in Florida, where Casse has opened up a year-round division. Casse called getting Brei’s horses “a big boost” to his Florida operation.

Fellowship likely will be based in Kentucky following the Preakness. Awesome Banner, another stakes winner owned by Brei, is on the farm.

When Fellowship did not have enough qualifying points to get into the Kentucky Derby, Brei and Casse had the option of entering him in the race as an also-eligible and hoping for a scratch. Instead, they opted to run in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Fellowship, under Jose Lezcano, chased a very hot pace from midpack, and after moving into second in midstretch, he ended up fourth, five lengths behind the front-running winner, Sharp Azteca.

“In our attempt to try to win the race, Jose made a bit of a premature move, and it hurt our chances, though I don’t think anybody was going to beat the winner that day,” Casse said. “If we could have sat back and made a run, we could’ve been second.”

Brei said the Pat Day Mile was used almost like a workout since neither Brei nor Casse wanted to go seven weeks between races.

“We got what we needed out of it; we came out of the race good,” Brei said. “We’ll see what Saturday does for us.”