05/06/2014 10:21AM

Preakness: Ria Antonia to take on boys

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ria Antonia, shown training at Churchill Downs ahead of her sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks last Friday, is being pointed to the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable’s connections have resolutely declined to try her against males in the Preakness Stakes, but it appears that the Preakness will have a feminine touch nonetheless.

Ria Antonia, who finished sixth in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks, is being pointed to the Preakness on May 17 at Pimlico, owner Ron Paolucci said Tuesday.

“That seems to be the plan so far,” said Paolucci.

Paolucci said he has moved Ria Antonia from trainer Bob Baffert to trainer Tom Amoss, the second time this year Paolucci has changed trainers with the filly. Ria Antonia, who was moved up from second to first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when She’s a Tiger was disqualified, shipped from New York to New Orleans in December and made her first 2014 start – a fourth in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra Stakes – for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Englehart had taken over Ria Antonia’s training last year after the filly raced three times at Woodbine for Ricky Griffith, and it was for Englehart that she won the BC Juvenile Fillies.

Paolucci already had a half-dozen horses under Amoss’s care. He described his parting with Baffert as amicable and said he planned to campaign Ria Antonia in the Midwest and East this spring and summer. Paolucci is an Ohio native and said he wants to win the Ohio Derby on July 19 at ThistleDown with Ria Antonia.

::2014 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more

Shortly after the Rachel Alexandra, Paolucci shipped Ria Antonia from Fair Grounds to Santa Anita, where she took up residence with Baffert’s string and finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks. In Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, Ria Antonia stalked a moderate early pace and failed to quicken with the top finishers, checking in almost 16 lengths behind Untapable. The prospect of facing Untapable again in a race like the Acorn Stakes at Belmont is less appealing than making a run at the Preakness, said Paolucci, noting California Chrome’s slow Kentucky Derby-winning time of 2:03.66.

“Here’s the thing: Untapable is the best 3-year-old in the country, boy or girl, in my opinion. California Chrome is a great horse, but I believe if Untapable was in the Derby, she’d have won.” Paolucci said. “With Social Inclusion going, Bayern going, I think there’s going to be a lot of speed in the Preakness, and it could really set up for her.”

Ria Antonia wore blinkers in the Oaks but would race without them in the Preakness, Paolucci said. Mike Smith rode the filly last weekend, but Paolucci said he had not yet contracted a rider for the Preakness.

Five fillies have won the Preakness, including Rachel Alexandra in 2009, the most recent filly to contest the race.

California Chrome to jog Wednesday

California Chrome was hand-walked around the Barn 20 shed row at Churchill Downs for the third straight morning since his Kentucky Derby victory, with exercise rider Willie Delgado having the honor Tuesday. The colt was scheduled to return to light training Wednesday for a light jog sometime before 7 a.m. Eastern. He will be flown Monday to Maryland.

– additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee