espn logo

Monarchos jogs Friday, Ward pleased

BALTIMORE - John Oxley's Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos "jogged a couple miles and broke a sweat, which is good," said trainer John Ward, Jr. Friday morning during another marathon round of interviews. "He is where I want him to be going into the race. We just have to hope that he doesn't flip his top between now and the race, but he's done very well adjusting to his surroundings here." Ward perceives Congaree and A P Valentine as particularly dangerous rivals. "Congaree is an extremely talented horse and Jerry Bailey is just a wonderful, wonderful rider and his style fits that horse. I have 100 per cent confidence in Georgie (Jorge Chavez) and I'm sure he'll respond to anything that comes along in the race. A P Valentine has just trained so well here." Asked if he was looking past the Preakness, Ward said "We're totally focused on the Preakness right now, but if he runs well, we'll be looking at several things going into the Belmont. "The first thing would be to get him up there to train over the track. He's never trained or run there. It's a mile and a half track and horses will use different muscles to get over it."

Point Given puts on show
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Point Given, one of the favorites for Saturday's Preakness, gave everyone a major thrill walking to the track for his gallop Friday morning when he reared up high on his hind legs like he was auditioning for a role in "The Chestnut Stallion." Considering the fact that the Thunder Gulch colt stands 17.2 hands when he's flat on the ground, it was an impressive sight and caught everybody's attention.

"He'sdone that before," trainer Bob Baffert said. "It's his way of telling us he's feeling good, ready to roll." Exercise rider Pepe Aragon held on for dear life and stayed in the saddle. "He rears up, I stay on," Aragon said. "He must have reared a hundred times with me since I first started riding him. But he does it and that's it. Some horses are mean and cranky and just continue to give you trouble after they rear. But he's not mean. He does it, and that's it. He goes back to business like nothing ever happened.

"The very first time I ever got on him, he reared," Aragon said. "I wasn't expecting it, but I stayed on. He did it twice more that day, then settled down. Usually he just goes up high on his hind legs and comes down. Now he twists a little, like he's learning new tricks."

"We're gonna have to get Pepe a Velcro saddle," Baffert said with a smile. Point Given and Stonerside Stable's Congaree both galloped around the main Pimlico oval this morning. Congaree, third in the Kentucky Derby, was installed the second choice at 5-2 on the Preakness morning line, while Point Given, who started the 9-5 favorite and finished fifth in the Derby, is third choice at 3-1.

Baffert was still undecided Friday morning about where to saddle the two colts. Most of the field will saddle on the turf course, so Baffert was considering separating his two from the rest to saddle in the indoor paddock.

"I don't know where we'll saddle yet," Baffert said. "Point Given is such a big sucker, and he likes to rear up. I don't want to scare everybody to death out there. Wherever we saddle, they'll be together.

"They're both doing great here," Baffert said. "It looks like the Derby took more out of me than it did out of them."

Baffert was asked if he had any pre-race superstitions. "Yeah," he said. "Never put a hat on the bed. My father told me that. I have no idea why. But I'll bet somebody in our stable put a hat on the bed before the Derby."

Richly Blended stretches legs
Raymond Dweck's Richly Blended, who figures to be the speed of the Preakness, galloped a mile and a half Friday morning under regular exercise rider Tony Gargan. Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. returned to his Monmouth Park base in New Jersey after saddling Stormy Pick for a third-place finish in Thursday's Miss Preakness Stakes. Bloodstock agent Baden "Buzz" Chace, who bought the Rizzi colt out of a Florida sale last year, was acting as Perkins' assistant. "He's doing great," Chace said, "fresh, fit and ready."

Dollar Bill has easy morning
Gary and Mary West's Dollar Bill, who has had nothing but problems in his last three starts, stayed out of trouble Friday morning as he went to the track early for some light exercise. "He just jogged two miles, nice and easy," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "He's doing good and he'll run good." Regular exercise rider Joanne McNamara, who was aboard the Peaks and Valleys colt this morning, celebrated her birthday Thursday. She wasn't saying which one.

Leigh-Pedersen and Bridgmohan in strategy session
Paraneck Stable's Griffinite jogged a mile and galloped a mile under exercise rider Debby Landry Friday morning at Pimlico in preparation for the Preakness. "If he does the best he is capable of on Saturday, then he will be tough. This is a nice horse and I think he belongs with horses this good," said trainer Jennifer Leigh-Pedersen. The trainer said she will have a strategy meeting with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan Friday evening. "I want to stalk (the leaders), but I don't want to lose touch," she said. "I don't want to be way off, but I do think a horse can come from the back and do all right."

Bay Eagle schools at Delaware Park gate
With exercise rider Vicki King aboard, Lazy Lane Farms' Bay Eagle schooled in the starting gate, then galloped a mile and a half at Delaware Park. "Actually all he did was stand in the gate a little," said trainer Graham Motion. "But that was enough. He doesn't need anything else." The son of Secret Hello will leave by van from Delaware Park at approximately 6 a.m. in hopes of avoiding the early crowd . The colt will be brought to the Preakness barn.

Marciano may be last to arrive
Win More Stable's Federico Tesio winner Marciano remains at Delaware Park and ships to Pimlico Saturday morning as does Bay Eagle. Trainer Tim Ritchey's time schedule for arrival appears likely to be a little later in the morning than Bay Eagle.
Percy Hope gallops, Reinstedler hopeful
Waterfall Stable's Lone Star Derby winner Percy Hope galloped 1 3/8 miles Friday morning for trainer, groom and hot walker Tony Reinstedler, who says he's enjoying his first Preakness experience. "It's really been fun," says the native of Louisville. "Circumstances with the young horses coming into the stable at Churchill Downs have us a little stretched for help, so I just decided to do it all myself. It's like riding a bicycle, you don't forget, even if you haven't done in a while. "I don't feel any pressure whatsoever. I've been with good horses running in big races plenty of times. The bottom line with this horse is if he's good enough to compete at this level.

"I think he is best in a stalking position. He runs up on the bridle. I was stabled all winter at Gulfstream in the same barn with John Ward and Monarchos, so I know what we're up against. If my horse is overlooked, I can understand. He needs to earn respect." Reinstedler worked for trainer Shug McGaughey for 7 1/2 years, first as a groom and later as an assistant during the years the stable had such stars as Easy Goer, Personal Ensign and Seeking the Gold in the barn before going on his own in 1990.

A P Valentine goes easy Friday
Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P Valentine had "a light gallop and jog" Friday morning, according to trainer Nick Zito. "He got very aggressive in his gallop yesterday morning and we just wanted him to settle down a little this morning." Still reflecting on the A.P. Indy colt's rough trip while finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, Zito said, "People don't realize what a troubled trip like that takes out of a horse. "The reason I decided not to skip the Preakness and just point for the Belmont was that I think it will set him up better for the Belmont than if he didn't run here. It's been hard for me to see the replay (Derby) again and again."

Mr. John gallops, Walden expects quick break
Thomas Van Meter II's Mr. John galloped a mile-and-a-half Friday morning, according to trainer Elliott Walden, who sees the son of Golden Gear involved in the race early on. "He's a very fast breaker," said Walden from his Barn 3 office on the backstretch. "I'll be disappointed if he isn't one-two coming out of the gate. Then I see Richly Blended coming over in front of us to take the lead. My horse should settle into the first flight whether its second, third or fourth. "After that point, we go into the unknown."