Preakness Notes : 9 days until the big race

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Baffert Likes What He Sees in American Pharoah, Dortmund

BALTIMORE – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Thursday that he expects both
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah and third-place finisher Dortmund to be starters in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
Following his standard approach – which has produced five Preakness victories – Baffert’s colts have stayed at Churchill Downs with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes. Baffert headed back to his home in California after the Derby and will return to Louisville, Ky. this weekend to supervise final preparations for the Preakness. They will ship to Baltimore on Wednesday, May 13.
Speaking on an NTRA conference call, Baffert said the colts have come out of the Derby in great shape and probably will not have a timed work before the Preakness. He altered his plans a bit, though, and will have them gallop instead of jog on Friday because they have recovered so quickly from the Derby.

“They jogged today and everything went really well,” Baffert said. “They’ll go to the track and gallop. I’m going to get there Sunday. I really doubt if I’m going to breeze them. I don’t think they need any breezing. They’re pretty much ready to roll. I’m just going to keep them strong, healthy and happy.”

Baffert’s Kentucky staff sent him videos of the colts on Wednesday and he liked what he saw.

“Pharoah looks great, his color is good,” Baffert said. “Dortmund looks good.”

American Pharoah and Dortmund will be Baffert’s 16th and 17th Preakness starters. In addition to his five wins, he has a second and a third in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. The Churchill-to-Pimlico move the week of the race has worked well for him through the years.

“It’s a good position to be in,” he said. “We’re used to it, so we know what to expect when we get there. Nothing is new. We’re just going to enjoy it, take it in and hopefully we get lucky again and win another Preakness.”

Baffert said that having the top two choices in the Derby field was tough on him.

“I knew I had this loaded gun with these two great bullets in it. I was just thinking that I need to win this race,” he said.

Baffert, 62, said he looked at it as an opportunity that could not be wasted.

“I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life in the last few days leading up to that race,” he said.

Baffert has won the Preakness with his three previous Derby winners, Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). This will be the first time that he saddles a stablemate against a Derby winner and possibly prevent American Pharoah from taking the second step toward a Triple Crown. Dortmund, owned by Kaleem Shah, set the pace for a mile and showed grit to preserve third in the Derby.

“He deserves another chance. He ran his race,” Baffert said. “It’s a little bit shorter; he might like that. In my barn, everyone gets an equal, fair shot. Kaleem told me, ‘If you think he’s going to run well, run him.’ He left it up to me, so it’s actually my call. As long as I feel comfortable that when I lead one up there I want to make sure I’m not going to embarrass somebody and he’s going to run his race. As long as he looks great on Monday and Tuesday I don’t see why not give him another chance at it. He’s a very good horse."

Derby Runner-up Firing Line Jogs for Second Day

Firing Line went to the track for the second straight morning at Churchill for a jog under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

Accompanying Firing Line on his morning activity was Perfect Drift. Now working as a pony, the 16-year-old Perfect Drift finished third behind War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Simon Callaghan, Firing Line is scheduled to resume galloping Friday morning.

Gomez, who was part of trainer Doug O’Neill’s team with I’ll Have Another for the 2012 Triple Crown, has been getting on Firing Line for a little more than a month.

“He was good this morning, a lot of energy and feeling good,” said Gomez, who missed Wednesday’s jogging session because he was in California. “He has a lot of confidence in himself. He is so professional. He is the kind of horse that makes you look good.

“He stood on the frontside for 10 minutes with horses jumping all around him and he didn’t pay any attention to them. He has held his weight since the Derby and (assistant trainer) Carlos (Santamaria) says he is eating good.”

Lukas-Trained Mr. Z ‘Probable’ for Middle Jewel

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas reported that Zayat Stables’ Mr. Z, the 13th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, has been upgraded to probable for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“Mr. (Ahmed) Zayat is going to evaluate the field and the quality of it, but I would say we are probable,” said Lukas, a six-time winner of the Preakness. “The horse is doing really well. He came out of the race beautifully and we will read him throughout the week.”

Mr. Z galloped early Thursday morning with regular exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard.

A maiden winner in his debut and stakes-placed seven times, Mr. Z’s Baltimore target would be the Preakness and not the $100,000 Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles.

“No Sir Barton,” Lukas said. “It is either the Preakness or look for something else down the road.”

Meanwhile, John Oxley’s Danzig Moon, fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile early Thursday morning under William Cano.

Norman Casse, assistant to his father/trainer Mark Casse said, “No decision (has been made on the Preakness). It hasn’t been talked about.

Stewart ‘Thinking’ about Preakness for Tale of Verve

Trainer Dallas Stewart said he is thinking about a Preakness bid for Charles Fipke’s homebred Tale of Verve, who was entered in the Kentucky Derby but did not draw into the race from the also-eligible list.

Tale of Verve broke his maiden going the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles in his most recent start at Keeneland on April 23.

“He had a perfect setup for the Derby (with the win at Keeneland),” Stewart said. “What a coup that would have been. We wanted to run. I thought he would have run well. He had been training well here with two five-eighths works in :59 and change before that.”

Tale of Verve worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 here Monday and is slated for another breeze Sunday or Monday.

“He is a come-from-behind horse; a big good-looking horse like (2014 Derby runner-up) Commanding Curve,” Stewart said. “I think the Belmont may be better for him but he needs to run before then. He may run in the Preakness. I’ll talk it over with the owner.”

Stewart has started three horses in the Preakness with Macho Again finishing second in 2008, Dollar Bill finishing fourth in 2001 and Kimberlite Pipe eighth in 1999.

“I can’t think about what other people say,” Stewart said of his colt’s chances. “You don’t know until you try.”

Stewart also said that Lemon Drop Title, a maiden winner at Churchill Downs last week, is under consideration for the Sir Barton on May 16.

Grand Bili Possible New Shooter for Preakness

After following up his most impressive debut victory with a strong second-place finish in a Gulfstream Park allowance on April 9, Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Grand Bili will travel to Baltimore with an eye toward the 140th Preakness Stakes, according to trainer Gustavo Delgado.

“He will go to Baltimore and run next Saturday, either in the Preakness or another stake for 3-year-olds on the same day (the $100,000 Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles or the $100,000 Chick Lang at 6 furlongs),” Delgado said.

The Ontario-bred son of City Zip opened eyes when he scored a ¾-length triumph over the highly touted Tennessee, a first-time starter for trainer Todd Pletcher, in his career debut on Feb. 1, putting pressure on that rival throughout before running him down in the stretch. The gray then returned two months later to face another highly regarded Pletcher runner in Chipit, who broke his own maiden at first asking four weeks prior. This time it was Chipit who had the ¾-length advantage at the wire; Grand Bili fought on gamely but was second best.

Still, the performance was enough to convince Delgado that his charge was ready to take the next step. Grand Bili will ship to Pimlico next week. He’s breezed twice since his last start, most recently working five furlongs in 1:03.00 on May 1 at Gulfstream Park West.

“He’s doing well. He’s been training steadily since his last race,” Delgado said.

Delgado will also send Grand Tito to Maryland to run on Preakness weekend. The 5-year-old gelding, who notably came a neck from defeating next-out Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) winner Mshawish in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) on Jan. 10, will run in the Longines Dixie Stakes (G2) on the Preakness undercard. Grand Tito most recently finished second in the Miami Mile (G3) at Gulfstream on April 25.

Other probables for the Preakness are Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Divining Rod and Federico Tesio victor Bodhisattva. Trainer Todd Pletcher is monitoring the training of Materiality, Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge and Stanford to determine their respective statuses for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Morgan Stanley Ultimate Girls Power Luncheon At Ultimate Girls Day Out On Black-Eyed Susan Day Friday, May 15 at Pimlico

BALTIMORE - Black-Eyed Susan Day, the Ultimate Girls Day Out, is proud to announce The Morgan Stanley Ultimate Girls Power Luncheon Friday, May 15 at Pimlico Race Course.

The luncheon, one of several events and activities celebrating the spirit and strength of women, will feature keynote speaker Carla Harris, Vice Chairperson of Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Client Advisor for Morgan Stanley, author of "Strategize To Win" and "Expect To Win," and recording artist.

The all-inclusive ticket allows guests to enjoy crab cakes, Afternoon Tea, the finest Thoroughbred racing and great music while mixing and mingling throughout the day.       

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (, caring for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their racing careers, joins Susan G. Komen Maryland, a major partner in the day’s charitable endeavors since 2010, as Black-Eyed Susan Day's event beneficiaries.

The Morgan Stanley Ultimate Girls Power Luncheon kicks off with a welcome and registration at 11:30 a.m. followed by luncheon at noon. Ms. Harris will deliver her keynote speech from approximately 1-2 p.m. Afternoon tea is 3-5 p.m. and the Infield Girls Galleria & Concert Series entertains all afternoon from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Former jockey Linda Reantillo-Penkala will give an informal “Racing 101” seminar and WPOC’s Laurie DeYoung will serve as emcee.

Tickets are $100 for Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber (BWCC) members and $125 for non-members. For tickets go to

The special event line up Black-Eyed Susan Day also includes the Hooves & Heels Fashion Show, "Bet Like A Girl" All-Female Handicapper Challenge and Seminar, and the Preakness Concert Series featuring the Gin Blossoms and Fuel.

The clubhouse and grandstand open at 9:30 a.m. First race post is noon.

For more information go to and

Preakness Contender Firing Line Taking Santamaria to New Territory

BALTIMORE – Carlos Santamaria’s new job has already exceeded his expectations. Just six weeks after signing on as trainer Simon Callaghan’s assistant, he finds himself in the midst of the 2015 Triple Crown campaign with Arnold Zetcher’s Firing Line.

Santamaria was with the colt at Churchill Downs prior to his second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday. Now he is helping to get the Line of David colt ready for a Preakness Stakes rematch with Derby hero American Pharoah at Pimlico on Saturday, May 16 as Callaghan tends to his Southern California-based stable.

Though he has spent half his life working with race horses, the Triple Crown is new territory for Santamaria, 37, who grew up near Mexico City. He started out as a teenage groom at a training facility near San Diego, moved to the race track soon after and landed jobs at Santa Anita with the legendary trainer Charlie Whittingham and David Hofmans before working for 19 years – the last 10 as assistant trainer – with Jack Carava. Callaghan hired him in March.

“You never know when you’re going to be here, but these kind of races you always have on your mind,” Santamaria said. “I never thought I was going to be at the Derby. Two months ago, I was working for Jack Carava and his business is more about claiming horses so I didn’t even think about it. But after a week and a half in this job my life changed. I was really happy to be at the Kentucky Derby. It was a really great experience. I’m enjoying it.”

Santamaria emigrated to the U.S. when he was 16 and picked up the job at the training center because his mother’s husband was working there.

“I said I would try that job and see what happens,” he said, laughing as he told the story. “I was afraid of them because of having never been with horses, but I still loved them because they are beautiful animals. Since the first day, I knew this was going be to be my job. I definitely fell in love with horses.”

Santamaria said he was timing Carava’s horses one morning in March at Santa Anita when Callaghan, 32, asked to talk with him for a second. The British-born Callaghan, who has been training in the U.S. since 2010, proposed that Santamaria become his assistant.

“I knew who he was, but I didn’t know he was going to ask me that,” Santamaria said. “When he came out with the offer I was like, ‘Whoa.’”

Santamaria said he told Callaghan that he would think about it and he could suggest some other people to consider.

“He said, ‘No, it’s just for you. If you can’t, it’s no problem. Just let me know,’” Santamaria said. “It makes me feel great to know that he was watching me and liked the way I do my job. That’s something good for me.”

Santamaria told Callaghan, that he needed assurances that if he took the job he would have a regular day off and time to spend with his young teenage daughters, who live with their mother. He said Callaghan supported his need to have that family time, to take them to school at least once a week and be active in their lives.

“I told Simon that’s going to be one of things that’s going to help me make up my mind about this offer from you,” he said. “This way I can spend more time with my girls. I love to do that.

“For me, working with the horses, I don’t call it a job. It’s more like a way of living. If you take this job as a job you’re going to turn crazy. You know what time you have to be at the barn, but you never know when you’re going to get out of the barn. You have to love it.”

Firing Line’s run-away victory in the Sunland Park Derby on March 22, just a few days after Santamaria joined Callaghan, earned him the qualifying points he needed to get into the Derby field and stamped him as one of the better 3-year-olds in the land. He turned in a big performance in the Derby under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, finishing second by a length after having the lead in the stretch. Santamaria says he expects the colt will be just as game in Baltimore.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Santamaria said. “A lot of people were talking about how easy American Pharoah had been winning. This time, I think he had to run his guts out to beat us. I think we have a pretty good chance in the next race because he is competitive and he came out of the race good. His attitude is that he thinks he won the race. That will be a nice race.”

Firing Line is hardly an overnight sensation. Before his Sunland Park triumph, he gave Dortmund, the third-place finisher in the Derby, everything he could handle in two races at Santa Anita. Santamaria was confident that another gritty effort was coming in the Derby.

“Everybody who knows the horse knows he’s going to give everything he has. Everything,” Santamaria said. “The only thing you have to think of before the race is you have to wish for is he breaks good and gets a good position. After that, we knew the horse was going to do his job.

“When he was laying second to Dortmund, I knew he was going to be there. He was going to end up right there. One-eighth of a mile before the wire I thought we had the race. For one moment, I thought we’ve got it. We know the other horse is really good horse, but we knew our horse wasn’t going to give up at all.”

Though they haven’t worked together for very long, Santamaria likes the way he has been treated by Callaghan.

“I’ve been telling everybody about Simon. I always call him a kid because he’s younger than me,” Santamaria said. “Working so long for guys older than me and now working for Simon, I feel like he’s a kid. But he’s such a great guy. I always say thanks to him because since the first day working for him, he’s never told me to do this or that. He’s given me the chance to run the barn like however I think it should be done

“It’s been super great. He went back to California and he was like, ‘I know you’re going to be there.  I don’t worry.’ All the things he says make you feel good, super good. He trusts me, so I’m really happy to be working for him.”

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About Pimlico Race Course

Historic Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the middle jewel in horse racing's famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit

Pimlico Race Course is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at or call 954.457.6451.

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