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Preakness: Sway Away, Flashpoint work out in Kentucky
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – What a difference one Saturday makes. In stark contrast to the sea of humanity that descended on the Churchill Downs property on Kentucky Derby Day, there was no one beyond the very hard-core on the backstretch the following Saturday morning when Sway Away had his final pre-race workout for the 136th Preakness.
Not even Jeff Bonde, the California-based trainer who conditions Sway Away, was here.
“This was a good work,” his assistant, Miguel Carranza, said afterward.
Going solo before dawn and under the Churchill lights, Sway Away breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60 over a fast surface in his last major preparation for his role as a longshot in the $1 million Preakness, which is set for next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Keith Davis was aboard Sway Away, who most recently was fourth in the Arkansas Derby before being excluded from the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
Sway Away wore blinkers in the Arkansas Derby for the first time in five career starts. He also wore them in the Saturday work.
The breeze by Sway Away was one of two Saturday for Preakness contenders. The other came 80 miles up the road at Keeneland in Lexington, where Flashpoint, the likely Preakness pacesetter, went five furlongs in 1:00.60 over Polytrack.
Since running fourth in the Florida Derby in his last start, Flashpoint has been transferred from Rick Dutrow to Wesley Ward. Regardless of his actual chances of victory, Flashpoint, owned by the Peachtree Stable of John Fort, figures as a major pace factor in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.
Back at Churchill, Nehro, the runner-up to Animal Kingdom in the Derby, had another routine morning as his connections contemplate whether or not to run the colt in the Preakness. Owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Steve Asmussen tentatively have scheduled a Monday workout, with a determination regarding the Preakness to follow. Nehro is the one undecided prospect who would be a top contender, so their decision about Nehro’s status clearly will have the greatest influence on the composition of the Preakness field.
“It’ll probably be a game-time decision,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi.
Also at Churchill, trainer Eddie Kenneally ruled out the Preakness for Santiva, the sixth-place Derby finisher.
“The horse is doing great, but we’ve decided not to go to Baltimore,” said Kenneally.
With the defection of Santiva, there still could be the limit of 14 starters for the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Entries will be drawn Wednesday evening at the track. Exclusions will be determined on a graduated scale using graded earnings, non-restricted stakes earnings, and overall earnings.
Animal Kingdom had another routine morning galloping over the synthetic surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland under the watchful eye of trainer Graham Motion.
* At Pimlico, linemaker Frank Carulli said he expects to list Animal Kingdom as the 2-1 or 5-2 program favorite, followed by Dialed In or Mucho Macho Man as second choice.
“But that’s without Nehro in the race,” said Carulli. If Nehro runs, “he’d be no worse than second choice, and it wouldn’t be impossible he’d be the favorite. The odds on all the other horses would drift up a notch or two with him in.”
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