- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Also-rans exit Preakness in good condition, some contemplating Belmont
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Sunday that Zetterholm appeared to come out of his fourth-place finish in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in good order. The New York-bred son of Silver Train was shipped back to Dutrow's barn at Aqueduct Sunday morning.
"I got what I wanted from the race," Dutrow said. "I was hoping and praying for a third or fourth-place finish. We got the fourth-place finish and we left there satisfied, but I did not see my horse run big. I know he put in his little effort there, but I thought he could have run better. He didn't change leads, which is very unlike him, and he didn't get along so well with the track."
Trainer Michael Matz reported that Teeth of the Dog also exited his fifth-place finish in the second jewel of the Triple Crown in good condition.
"I was happy with the way he ran. He's kind of inexperienced and he's probably not as good as those horses right now," said Matz from Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning.
Teeth of the Dog, a son of Bluegrass Cat who finished third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes prior to the Preakness, will not run in the Belmont Stakes. However, Matz has the horse that may well be Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another's most dangerous foe in his quest for a Triple Crown sweep.
Union Rags, who finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby, was held out of the Preakness to train for the Belmont Stakes. The colt captured the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park last fall, and Matz is confident that the Dixie Union bay will be well suited to the 1 1/2-mile oval, the sweeping turns and the relatively deep racing surface.
"I don't think it's going to be a problem," Matz said. "He's won there before, so I don't think that part of it will be a problem."
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who won back-to-back stakes races on the Preakness undercard but finished sixth in the main event with Optimizer, left Pimlico shortly after dawn with his entourage early Sunday for the long van ride back to Louisville, Kentucky.
"He's fine; he came out of the race in good shape," Lukas said of Optimizer by phone while on the highway home. "We're going to get home and (owner) Mr. (Brad) Kelley and I talked last night and we're going to talk a little bit further when we get back."
Lukas said before the Preakness he believed the son of English Channel was probably better suited to the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes than either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. He finished 11th in the Derby in some traffic, then got going late to split the field in the Preakness at odds of 23-1.
"I would say we're probable for the Belmont just because of the distance and the different configuration of the race track," said Lukas, who has won the Belmont Stakes four times in his storied career.
Lukas last took the Belmont in 2000 with long shot Commendable, following three consecutive victories from 1994-96 with Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch and Editor's Note.
"I'd say it's 50-50 right now," he said. "The winner (I'll Have Another) is a nice horse, but we're not going to hand (the Triple Crown) to him. He's got to earn it."
Cozzetti, the seventh-place finisher in Preakness 137, returned to his home base at Churchill Downs Sunday, where trainer Dale Romans will decide whether to continue on to Belmont or embark on a grass campaign to take advantage of the gray colt's attractive turf pedigree.
"I'm not sure," Romans said when asked if he would go onto the Belmont Stakes with the son of grass champion Cozzene. "We'll regroup. We've got to figure out why he's not running better. He's a better horse than he's shown. Once we get back to Kentucky, we'll figure him out."
Even if Romans bypasses the Belmont with Cozzetti, he has another candidate that he's more than a little excited about in Dullahan.
"He worked Saturday morning (five furlongs in 1:00 1/5, second-best of 26) at Churchill," Romans said of the Grade 1 Blue Grass winner and Kentucky Derby show finisher. "He's on track for a big Belmont."
Romans, who won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford, decided not to run in the Preakness and give Dullahan extra rest for the Belmont Stakes.
"It should help him," he said. "He'll be a fresher horse."
Trainer Ignacio Correas and his eighth-place Preakness runner Tiger Walk were back at Kevin Plank's Sagamore Farm Sunday morning, having departed Pimlico Saturday night for the 20-minute van ride home.
"He came out of the race good," Correas said. "He just walked today. He was probably a little tired."
The Preakness was Tiger Walk's fourth race as a three-year-old, all stakes, but his only in-the-money finish came in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in February in his seasonal debut.
Correas said he thought the son of Tale of the Cat would probably not be heading to New York for the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
"I don't think so," he said. "I haven't talked to Kevin about it yet. We're going to talk during the week, but I don't think so."
Went the Day Well was reported to have come out of a 10th-place finish in the Preakness in good order, according to trainer Graham Motion.
"He seems OK. He has a couple of scrapes, but all in all, he's good," Motion said from Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning.
The conditioner, who saddled Animal Kingdom to victory in last year's Kentucky Derby and a second-place finish in the Preakness, could offer no concrete reason for the disappointing effort that followed Went the Day Well's strong fourth-place finish in the Derby.
"Maybe the Derby took more out of him that I realized. I just don't know," Motion said before adding that the Proud Citizen colt is unlikely to go on to the Belmont Stakes.
"I think we'll point to some of the summer races like the (Grade 1) Travers (on August 25 at Saratoga)," Motion said.
Trainer Chris Grove reported from Bowie Training Center that Pretension exited his 11th-place finish in Saturday's Preakness Stakes in good order.
"He's in great shape. No problems. I think we'll probably head for the Mike Lee in late June," said Grove, referring to the Belmont Park stakes that's restricted to New York-bred horses.
The Bluegrass Cat chestnut earned a shot in the Preakness by taking the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico by a neck on May 5.