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Updated on 09/16/2011 8:19AM
Preakness looks all full up
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Led by War Emblem, the upset winner of the 128th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs, as many as 16 horses are being considered for the 127th Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, which will be run on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
War Emblem came out of his front-running victory in good condition but a little tired, trainer Bob Baffert said. He said War Emblem would remain at Churchill Downs until Wednesday, May 15, when he will be flown to Baltimore. That is the same schedule Baffert has used with his previous Derby runners who competed in the Preakness, including Point Given, Real Quiet, and Silver Charm, all of whom won the Preakness.
Proud Citizen and Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second and fourth in the Derby, also are definitely heading to the Preakness.
Derby runners Perfect Drift (who was third), Request for Parole (fifth), and Harlan's Holiday (seventh as the favorite) are possible for the race.
There are several newcomers to the Triple Crown chase, most notably Sunday Break and U S S Tinosa, both of whom entered the Derby, but were excluded from the maximum field of 20 because of insufficient earnings in graded stakes races.
Booklet, who was second in the Blue Grass Stakes, is going to the Preakness, trainer John T. Ward Jr. said on Monday. Pat Day will be Booklet's new rider, replacing Jorge Chavez.
Also on the list of Preakness probables are Easyfromthegitgo, Equality, Magic Weisner, and Table Limit, and two for trainer Nick Zito, Crimson Hero and Straight Gin. Zito said Chris McCarron had agreed to ride Crimson Hero.
Tails of the Crypt is possible for the Preakness.
The Preakness field has a maximum of 14 runners. Since many of the horses on the current list of 16 are iffy for the race, there is a good chance 14 or fewer will enter next Wednesday. If, however, more than 14 are entered in the Preakness, the field is determined using several tie-breakers.
The first seven of the 14 runners are determined by earnings in graded stakes races. Using the current list of 16 runners as a guide, the seven who would qualify first, in order of their graded stakes earnings, would be War Emblem, Harlan's Holiday, Booklet, Proud Citizen, Perfect Drift, Medaglia d'Oro, and Easyfromthegitgo.
The next four horses would be determined by overall earnings, excluding restricted races, such as those for statebreds. Again, using the list of 16, those four in order would be Request for Parole, Equality, Tails of the Crypt, and Sunday Break.
The final three spots would be determined by overall earnings. Those three spots would be taken up, in order, by U S S Tinosa, Magic Weisner, and Crimson Hero.
Excluded would be Straight Gin and Table Limit, in that order.
U S S Tinosa was headed to Baltimore on Monday, and Zito's colts were scheduled to arrive there Tuesday. Medaglia d'Oro and Sunday Break traveled to Belmont Park on Monday, and will train there before the Preakness. War Emblem, Booklet, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained pair of Proud Citizen and Table Limit will fly from Kentucky to Maryland next Wednesday, three days before the Preakness.
No other Derby runners are going to the Preakness. Johannesburg (eighth in the Derby) and Castle Gandolfo (12th) returned to Ireland on Sunday. Essence of Dubai (ninth) has gone to New York to prepare for the June 8 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown. California-based runners Came Home (sixth), Easy Grades (13th), Lusty Latin (15th), and Ocean Sound (17th) all are returning to the West Coast. It'sallinthechase (16th) is headed to Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Private Emblem (14th) is going east. "New York-bred program, here we come," trainer Steve Asmussen said. Blue Burner (11th) will look for an easier spot in New York.
Saarland (10th) came out of the Derby with a chip in his left front ankle, which will be removed with arthroscopic surgery. Wild Horses (18th and last) bled slightly in the race, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.
War Emblem got a Beyer Speed Figure of 114 in the Derby. "He wasn't tired yesterday, after the race," Baffert said Sunday morning. "But today, he's tired. He's finally mellow."
War Emblem will be seeking to become the sport's 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first since Affirmed in 1978. Baffert said he believes the 1 3/16-mile Preakness will be the toughest of the next two races. "The Belmont," he said, "should be just a walk in the park."
"We got the Derby. That's the most important jewel," he said. "If we win the Triple Crown, it's meant to be. If not, it's not."
Lukas is eager to challenge War Emblem again with Proud Citizen.
"We planned to stalk War Emblem. We didn't know how much stamina he had and thought he might come back," Lukas said. Asked if he might have jockey Mike Smith be more aggressive early in the Preakness, Lukas said, "We'll just see who enters and what scenario we're dealt and then decide."
Murray Johnson, the trainer of Perfect Drift, on Monday said he would "see how everything unfolds" before deciding whether to run in the Preakness.
Trainer Ken McPeek and owner Jack Wolf said Harlan's Holiday's status would be determined based on how he trains in the next week.
"The big question is whether or not he's tired. If he is, then he won't run. If he's fine, then we'll probably go," Wolf said. "This would make his third Grade 1 in a five-week period, which is asking a lot, but right now, he's into his feed and prancing around."
McPeek said he closely analyzed some pace figures before the Derby and came to believe the pace would not be as fast as most handicappers thought it would be.
"The figures said we would be laying third, maybe second, but my instincts told me it wouldn't turn out that way," he said. "Hindsight's 20-20, but I thought it was the jockeys who made things turn out the way they did, not the track condition or the pace.
"Now I'm wishing I would've told Edgar," McPeek added, referring to jockey Edgar Prado, "to send him up there."
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen, David Grening, Marty McGee, and Mike Welsch
The following 16 horses are being considered for the 127th Preakness Stakes, which is limited to a field of 14. If more than 14 horses are entered, the first seven are determined by earnings in graded stakes races, the next four by overall earnings excluding restricted races, and the final three by overall earnings. If all 16 are entered next Wednesday, Straight Gin and Table Limit would be excluded.
BookletP. DayJ. Ward2nd, Blue Grass S.
Crimson HeroC. McCarronN. Zito2nd, Lexington S.
EasyfromthegitgoD. MecheS. Asmussen3rd, Lexington S.
EqualityR. DominguezH. G. Motion2nd, Aventura S.
Harlan's HolidayE. PradoK. McPeek7th, Ky. Derby
Magic WeisnerP. TeatorN. Alberts2nd, F. Tesio
Medaglia d'OroundecidedB. Frankel4th, Ky. Derby
Perfect DriftE. DelahoussayeM. Johnson3rd, Ky. Derby
Proud CitizenM. SmithD. W. Lukas2nd, Ky. Derby
Request for ParoleR. AlbaradoS. Margolis5th, Ky. Derby
Sunday BreakG. StevensN. Drysdale3rd, Wood Memorial
Tails of the CryptundecidedJ. Ross6th, Lexington S.
U S S TinosaK. DesormeauxJ. Hollendorfer5th, SA Derby
War EmblemV. EspinozaB. Baffert1st, Ky. Derby
Straight GinundecidedN. Zito4th, Blue Grass S.
Table LimitundecidedD. W. Lukas1st, Kee. Alw.