05/10/2013 3:18PM

Preakness: Brown unsure whether to run Normandy Invasion

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Chad Brown says he must feel confident Normandy Invasion can win the Preakness in order to run him on short rest.

ELMONT, N.Y. – It was shaping up to be a restless weekend for trainer Chad Brown as he contemplates whether or not to run Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Normandy Invasion back in next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

Brown was at Belmont Park on Friday morning to watch Normandy Invasion gallop 1 1/2 miles over the training track, which was harrowed and labeled good for training. Though Brown was pleased with what he saw from the light-framed colt, he is debating internally whether to run back in two weeks or plot out a strategy that gets Normandy Invasion to the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 24 in the best shape possible.

“When you have one of the better 3-year-olds in the country and you have a race like the Travers that I really want to win – anyone would really want to win – I really got to keep that in mind,” Brown said outside his barn on a glorious spring morning. “I don’t want to do anything to risk the horse for the rest of the year.

“The only thing really to gain is if you win the Preakness,” Brown added. “Running in the Preakness and hitting the board is not going to do anything for me or [owner Rick] Porter – we’ve had that discussion. If we go, I got to be very confident that we have an excellent chance to win the race. Anything short of that we probably wouldn’t go.”

[2013 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more]

The calendar would suggest that even if Normandy Invasion ran in the Preakness, win or lose, he would still have enough time to make the Jim Dandy on July 27 and the Travers four weeks later. But, Brown said, that doesn’t have to be the case.

“They’re not cars. You can’t just say ‘Oh well, he’s going to come out of the Preakness fine and that break will do him fine,’ ” Brown said. “Maybe you really knock him out or maybe we run him back in the Preakness and he wins and now we totally changed the landscape of the 3-year-old division because we won one of the classics.”

Normandy Invasion, who made the lead at the quarter pole in the Derby, was beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Orb. He shipped back to New York on Monday night and after walking Tuesday, he jogged Wednesday and Thursday over a muddy Belmont training track before galloping late Friday morning. Normandy Invasion appeared to show good energy, and was also more relaxed than he was late Derby Week.

“I thought he was moving well,” Brown said. “As you can see, he’s back home with less people around; he’s nice and relaxed galloping. He was starting to get on the bit pretty good the last week at Churchill. He’s back being comfortable.”

Brown said he would watch Normandy Invasion gallop over the weekend before making a decision. Brown did say that if he decided to run in the Preakness he would not give Normandy Invasion a timed workout.

“He doesn’t need to work,” Brown said.

Brown said that Javier Castellano would retain the mount if Normandy Invasion ran in the Preakness.

In other Preakness developments:

◗ Shortly after 6 a.m., Kentucky Derby winner Orb galloped a strong 1 1/4 miles over Belmont’s main track under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. “I thought he went around there pretty good,” trainer Shug McGaughey said.

◗ Itsmyluckyday, 15th in the Kentucky Derby, was scheduled to work Saturday morning at Monmouth Park, weather permitting, trainer Eddie Plesa said. There was rain in the forecast Friday night and into Saturday morning for the Monmouth area, and Plesa said he didn’t want to work on a wet track.

Plesa said if he doesn’t get to work Itsmyluckyday by Monday, then he won’t work the colt before the race.

Itsmyluckyday is expected to van to Pimlico on Tuesday.

◗ Goldencents, who returned to the track for training at Pimlico on Thursday for a jog, ramped it up to a gallop on Friday with his regular jockey, Kevin Krigger, who is remaining in Baltimore through the Preakness. Jack Sisterson, the on-site assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, said Goldencents bounced out of the Derby, in which he finished 17th, “with high energy.” O’Neill said Goldencents could work on Monday at Pimlico.

◗ Govenor Charlie, forced to pass the Derby owing to an interruption in training, is scheduled to work on Monday at Churchill Downs in his final drill for the Preakness, according to his trainer, Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness five times, most recently with Lookin At Lucky in 2010.

◗ Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, scheduled to send out three Preakness runners – Oxbow, Titletown Five, and Will Take Charge – also has won the Preakness five times, the last with Charismatic in 1999. T.J. Healey also won the Preakness five times, between 1901 and 1929. Baffert, Lukas, and Healey are tied for second behind R.W. Walden, who trained seven Preakness winners between 1875 and 1888. The race was first run in 1873.

◗ A decision as to the Preakness status of Mylute, fifth in the Derby, was scheduled to be made Saturday morning, according to trainer Tom Amoss. Mylute is training at Churchill Downs.

◗ Departing, the Illinois Derby winner, was scheduled to have his final Preakness work on Sunday at Churchill Downs. He did not run in the Derby

– additional reporting by Jay Privman