05/18/2016 11:10AM

Preakness: This time, Fellowship is in

Barbara D. Livingston
Fellowship, here with assistant trainer Norman Casse, missed out on running in the Kentucky Derby by one spot.

Fellowship arrived in trainer Mark Casse’s Kentucky barn three weeks before entry day for the Kentucky Derby – and, somewhat remarkably, his name was not in the entry box for the first of the spring classics when the deadline rolled around. The preference list to determine the 20-horse field refused to budge with late defections, and the colt remained stuck in 21st, with the same number of points as the final horse into the field but $61,736 behind in the non-restricted stakes earnings tiebreaker.

On Saturday, Fellowship will get his chance in the Preakness.

“What a weird situation that was, to be 21 for three weeks,” said Mark Casse’s son and top assistant, Norm. “You would have thought you had a 99 percent chance of getting in. I think it would have been a little harder had the horse been with us all along.”

Fellowship came under the Casses’ care in mid-April after owner-breeder Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm and longtime trainer Stanley Gold abruptly ended their partnership. The colt, a stakes winner against Florida-breds as a juvenile, earned his way into Triple Crown contention by finishing third in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes, Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, and Grade 1 Florida Derby this year.

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He has made one start for Casse, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“We used the Pat Day almost for fitness,” Norm Casse said. “We knew he was kind of up against it, backing him up going a mile. We knew that wasn’t really his style. It was more getting him ready for this.”