05/07/2012 3:34PM

Preakness: Full field looks likely; I'll Have Another ships to Pimlico

Mike Kane/Maryland Jockey Club
I'll Have Another leaves Churchill Downs on Monday bound for Maryland and the May 19 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

I’ll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs, flew to Maryland on Monday to get an early start on preparing for the 137th Preakness Stakes on May 19 at Pimlico Racecourse, a race that, like the Derby, should have a full field.

As of Monday, there were 16 horses still being considered for the Preakness. And though that number could shrink by next week, the Preakness does have a maximum of 14 starters, six fewer than the Derby, so earnings could come into play in determining the field. This year, the Preakness will allow up to two also-eligibles at entry time, too.

Unlike the Derby, which solely uses graded earnings for an oversubscribed field, the Preakness uses a three-tiered process. The first seven of the 14 starters are determined by graded stakes earnings. The next four are those who have the most earnings in non-restricted stakes. The next three – as well as the two also-eligibles – are based on lifetime earnings.

The field for the $1 million Preakness will be a mixture of horses exiting the Derby as well as horses who will be getting their first taste of this year’s Triple Crown. Besides I’ll Have Another, Derby runners most likely to come back in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness are Bodemeister (second), Went the Day Well (fourth), and Creative Cause (fifth). Dullahan (third), Hansen (ninth), and Optimizer (11th) are strong possibilities, too, while Liaison (sixth) could run there or await the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, on June 9 in New York.

Newcomers include Brimstone Island, Cozzetti, Hierro, Paynter, Pretension, Teeth of the Dog, Tiger Walk, and Zetterholm. Isn’t He Clever could be added to the list, but not before trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Kirk Robison confer. [List of probable starters]

Bodemeister and Paynter are both owned by Ahmed Zayat and trained by Bob Baffert, and both have similar, front-running styles, so it is highly unlikely both would run. Zayat has now finished second in the Derby three times in the last four years, including Pioneerof the Nile (2009) and Nehro (2011).

[PREAKNESS STAKES: Probable starters, contender profiles, latest news]

I’ll Have Another, who is trained by Doug O’Neill and was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, got a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for his Derby victory. He will now seek to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. I’ll Have Another has won all three of his starts this year, the Derby following victories in the Robert Lewis and Santa Anita Derby in California.

“My theory is that to win races of this magnitude, everything has to go right. And everything went absolutely right,” said Paul Reddam, owner of I’ll Have Another. “Every day, Doug and I would end our calls by saying, ‘So far, so good.’ I give the trainer a lot of credit. He had a plan, and he stuck to it.”

That plan included a two-month gap between the Lewis and the Santa Anita Derby prior to the Kentucky Derby.

“We thought he was good enough, and we wanted a fresh horse,” Reddam said.

“I feel a lot of pride, for the horse, the jockey, the trainer,” Reddam said. “These are really working-class connections, top to bottom. It’s not like we had a $2 million horse – initially.”

Reddam said he never could have fathomed winning a race like the Derby.

“The first Thoroughbred I ever had was a maiden claimer who went off at 99-1 at Santa Anita, and I remember being so thrilled when Trevor Denman said the name of my horse,” Reddam said. “If that was unreal to me, you never think you’ll have a stakes win, let alone win the Derby.”

[FACEBOOK POLL: Will I'll Have Another sweep the Triple Crown?]

I’ll Have Another was joined on his flight Monday by Went the Day Well, who was a troubled fourth in the Derby. Went the Day Well will spend this week at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, then go to Pimlico next week, according to Barry Irwin, chief executive of the Team Valor International partnership that owns Went the Day Well.

Bodemeister, Liaison, and Paynter – all trained by Baffert – are all at Churchill Downs. A decision on their status will be finalized early next week, and whoever runs in the Preakness would leave May 16. But Baffert’s initial instinct was go come back with Bodemeister.

“He was pretty fit. We knew he was going to carry the mail,” Baffert said. “I’ll go to California for a few days, then come back and watch them train.”

Dullahan, who is based at Churchill Downs, “came out of it good, really good, like he never did anything,” trainer Dale Romans said.

“We’ll give it a couple of days, let our emotions die down, and make a sensible decision,” Romans said.

Creative Cause returned to California on Sunday and will train at Hollywood Park the next week before heading to Baltimore if all goes well, trainer Mike Harrington said.

“He’ll tell me in a day or two how he’s feeling,” Harrington said. “He came out of the race quite good, better than me. He got a little tired, but you’ve got to be pleased with how he ran. He was wide, but he followed I’ll Have Another and just couldn’t outrun him.”

Harrington, Reddam, and Baffert all were thrilled with the showing of the California-based runners in the Derby, who took the first two spots, four of the first six, and five of the first eight.

“It shows that California has really good horses,” Baffert said. “It’s a good bunch.”

Of the potential newcomers, Hierro worked a half-mile in 52 seconds Monday at Churchill Downs, his first drill since capturing the Derby Trial nine days earlier.

Teeth of the Dog, who had been under consideration for the Peter Pan Stakes this Saturday at Belmont Park, is now likely for the Preakness at the request of owner J.W. Singer, trainer Michael Matz said.

Matz added that Union Rags, a troubled seventh in the Derby, was back at Fair Hill in Maryland. He is likely to await the Belmont Stakes.

Although Union Rags is fine physically, “He’s been lying down an awful lot today,” Matz said Monday.

The Lumber Guy, who had been under consideration for the Peter Pan or the Preakness, will run in the Peter Pan, trainer Mike Hushion said Monday after he saw the dust settle from the Derby.

– additional reporting by David Grening

2012 Preakness probable starters




Last Race


B. Baffert

M. Smith

Kentucky Derby, 2nd

Brimstone Island

W. Campbell

X. Perez

Canonero II, 2nd


D. Romans

J. Lezcano

Arkansas Derby, 4th

Creative Cause

M. Harrington

J. Rosario

Kentucky Derby, 5th


D. Romans

K. Desormeaux

3rd, Kentucky Derby


M. Maker

R. Dominguez

9th, Kentucky Derby


S. Asmussen

J. Leparoux

1st, Derby Trial

I'll Have Another

D. O'Neill

M. Gutierrez

1st, Kentucky Derby


B. Baffert

M. Garcia

6th, Kentucky Derby


D. Lukas

J. Court

11th, Kentucky Derby


B. Baffert


2nd, Derby Trial


C. Grove

J. Santiago

1st, Canonero II

Teeth of the Dog

M. Matz

J. Bravo

3rd, Wood Memorial

Tiger Walk

I. Correas, IV


4th, Wood Memorial

Went The Day Well

G. Motion

J. Velazquez

4th, Kentucky Derby


R. Dutrow, Jr.

J. Alvarado

1st, Patsyprospect