Awesome Speed, Abiding Star work; Lani enjoying quiet of Belmont
Awesome Speed put in his final timed workout for the Preakness (G1) Tuesday morning at owner Richard Santulli's training facility in New Jersey, breezing a half-mile in :47.40 over a fast track, according to trainer Alan Goldberg.
"It's fine," Goldberg said of his colt's third official work since his victory via disqualification in the April 9 Federico Tesio at Laurel. "It's all good, nice half."
Goldberg said the son of Awesome Again would walk the shedrow Wednesday, then gallop Thursday morning at Colts Neck before being shipped to Pimlico to join the rest of the Preakness cast. Assistant trainer Jorge Duarte will supervise his program at Pimlico leading up to Saturday's race.
"We'll put him on a van at about 8 o'clock," Goldberg said. "It's about a three-hour trip if everything goes OK."
Awesome Speed won three of his first four career starts, including the James F. Lewis III at Laurel to end his two-year-old campaign and the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream to begin his sophomore season.
That's when Goldberg decided it was time to try the upper echelon of the three-year-old division in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream in late February. The colt had a troubled trip and finished fourth of six under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. behind Mohaymen.
"It just went awry because he got bumped so hard," Goldberg said. "He went into that race as good as a horse can go into a race. I was somewhat confident. I didn't know if he would beat Mohaymen, but I thought he would beat all the others. I think getting bounced around early just took all the run out of him."
Goldberg and Santulli decided to not to pursue the Kentucky Derby (G1) and picked out the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio for his next start. Awesome Speed was knocked around again, but this time it was during the stretch run.
Sent off the favorite at odds of 7-10 under new rider Jevian Toledo, he was beaten by a nose by Governor Malibu. The stewards called an inquiry and reversed the decision, giving Awesome Speed the winner's share of the $100,000 purse and an automatic entry into the Preakness.
Abiding Star breezed four furlongs in :50.16 Tuesday morning at Parx Racing in anticipation that a quarantine at the Philadelphia-area track would be lifted later in the day.
"Abiding Star just ran two weeks ago, so all I needed to do was blow him out a little bit," trainer Ned Allard said.
Plans call for Abiding Star to be shipped to Pimlico early Thursday morning.
The Maryland Jockey Club is prepared to take special precautions for Parx-based horses shipping to Pimlico. Parx horses would train at 5 a.m. before regular training hours and would be housed in isolation stalls on the Pimlico backstretch, far from the Preakness Stakes Barns.
Lani returned to his normal routine at Belmont Park Tuesday morning, spending 45 minutes on the track for roughly six miles of exercise.
Maeda's agent Keita Tanaka, who has been with the colt for two months since he left Japan to run in the UAE. Derby (G2), said Lani walked once around the track, galloped/cantered two laps and walked another before returning to trainer Barclay Tagg's barn. Lani had a half-mile breeze Sunday morning and was given a day of rest on Monday.
"After he had the day off he was fresh and was very active, nice and bright," Tanaka said.
Lani was moved to Belmont Park on May 9, two days after he finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The original plan was to have the Tapit colt run in the Derby and the Belmont S. (G1), but his connections thought enough of his Derby performance to add the Preakness to his schedule. During his time at Churchill Downs, Lani earned a reputation as a horse with some behavioral issues. Tanaka said Lani's conduct has improved at Belmont Park.
"The surroundings in New York are much quieter than at Churchill Downs," Tanaka said. "The track is quieter, it's wider with few horses, so he's behaving much better than what he sometimes showed at Churchill Downs. I'm very satisfied with that. It's not a big deal here."
Tanaka said that Lani will have his final work for the Preakness at 6:30 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday at Belmont Park. Trainer Mikio Matsunaga was scheduled to arrive in New York from Japan on Tuesday and would finalize the plans for the breeze that is expected to be at least five furlongs.
Lani is scheduled to leave Belmont Park at 4:30 a.m. Thursday on a van headed to Pimlico and is slated to be on the grounds before the noon deadline.
Gun Runner out of Preakness
Trainer Steve Asmussen officially took Gun Runner, the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, out of Preakness consideration.
"We're going to pass on the Preakness," the newly elected Hall of Famer said by phone. "We're going to continue to train at Churchill and plan on a serious summer of three-year-old races with him...He's been in tremendous physical condition going into the Derby and coming out of it, and we expect for him to continue to physically develop."