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Pletcher Seeking More Clarity on Forte’s Preakness Status

Forte Preakness
Trainer Todd Pletcher still wants to run Forte in the Preakness Stakes. . (Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Trainer Todd Pletcher had no answers Tuesday morning as to whether 2-year-old champion Forte will be allowed to run in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission late Monday afternoon issued an advisory that Forte, who was scratched on Derby morning because of a foot bruise sustained earlier in the week, is on the 14-day ‘veterinarian’s list’ and ineligible to run during that time, including the Preakness.

“I read the statement put out (Monday) afternoon; that’s really all I know at this point,” Pletcher said. “I was surprised, maybe not floored, but surprised. We’re seeking some more clarity. Until we get it, we really don’t know what our status is. According to that, we would not be eligible to run in the Preakness. That’s all I know at this point.”

Pletcher sounded like he wants to be ready should something develop to where Forte could run in the Preakness.

“We weren’t able to do much today with the weather conditions and sloppy going,” Pletcher said of Forte’s easy gallop once around the track. “We’ll continue to put out some normal gallops as best we can.”

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Brown: Blazing Sevens ‘As Good As I’ve Ever Seen Him’

If all goes well on Saturday – and trainer Chad Brown expects it to – Rodeo Creek Racing’s Blazing Sevens will be bound for the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.

Blazing Sevens, a son of Good Magic, is scheduled to have his final pre-Preakness workout at Belmont Park on Saturday.

“If he comes out of the work good, we’ll go down to Pimlico either Sunday or Monday,” Brown said Tuesday morning after training horses at the Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Last Saturday, Blazing Sevens worked five furlongs at Belmont in 1:00.99. That was his third work since his last start, a third-place finish in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland on April 21. After that race, Brown huddled with John and Carla Capek of Rodeo Creek Racing, and it was decided to skip the Kentucky Derby – even though the horse had enough qualifying points – and wait for the Preakness.

Brown has used that formula before and has ended up in the Preakness winner’s circle. Last year, Early Voting did not run in the Derby and then won the Preakness. Same thing in 2017 when Cloud Computing followed that path.

The Preakness was the fourth career start for Early Voting and Cloud Computing. It will be the seventh for Blazing Sevens, who captured the Champagne (G1) during the Belmont meet at Aqueduct last year.

“(Blazing Sevens) is coming into the race fresh,” Brown said. “He is coming in with a full tank of gas. Off his most recent work I see him moving forward off the Blue Grass. The horse is as good as I have ever seen him. I needed to see the horse really move forward and to see him at his very best. That is what I am seeing.”

Brown said he hopes to have a jockey named to ride Blazing Sevens in the Preakness in the next 48 hours. He was ridden in the Blue Grass by Irad Ortiz Jr.


McGaughey Planning Return to Preakness with Perform

For the first time since 2013, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has a Preakness (G1) horse.

Perform, owned by Woodford Racing, Lane’s End Farm, Phipps Stable, Ken Langone and Edward Hudson, will be in the field for the May 20 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course after being supplemented for $150,000.

Perform, a son of Good Magic – the same sire as Preakness runners Blazing Sevens and Kentucky Derby(G1) winner Mage – won the Federico Tesio at Laurel on April 15.

The 1 ⅛-mile Tesio, was Perform’s second-straight win and came in his seventh career start. Perform won the race by a head at odds of 10-1 and was ridden by Maryland veteran Feargal Lynch. Lynch is expected to ride Perform in the Preakness; it will be the first mount in the race for the 45-year-old jockey.

McGaughey’s last Preakness horse was Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who finished fourth in 2013.

“It’s been a while,” McGaughey said. “Just haven’t had the horse.”

He also finished second in 1989 with Easy Goer and fifth in 1984 with Pine Circle.

After five failed tries in breaking his maiden, Perform broke through in his sixth start when he won at Tampa on March 1 going a mile and 40 yards.

“Two turns have helped him a lot,” McGaughey said. “Things changed when we started going around two turns. If I didn’t think he fit with these, I would not be running him. We will have to wait and see, but his last two races around two turns have been pretty good.”

Perform is scheduled to work at Belmont Park on Sunday. He has had two works there since winning the Tesio, the most recent coming last Sunday when he worked five furlongs in 1:00.56.

First Mission ‘Sound, Happy Horse’ for Preakness

Keeneland’s Stonestreet Lexington (G3) winner First Mission continues to train well for the May 20 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The Godolphin homebred is a son of 2007 Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Street Sense, who stands at Darley America, Godolphin’s Kentucky breeding operation.

In his third lifetime start, First Mission wore down Arabian Lion to win the 1 1/16-mile Lexington by a half-length under Luis Saez on April 15. The dark bay colt worked five-eighths of a mile in 59.80 seconds last Saturday and will work again this Saturday at Churchill Downs.

“First Mission looked very good,” said Jorje Abrego, trainer Brad Cox’s top assistant at Churchill Downs. “He galloped a mile today. The track is sloppy, but he’s a very sound, happy horse. I’m happy the way everything is going with the horse. He’ll go an easy five-eighths on Saturday, like in 1:01.

“Honestly, I watched the Derby and I watched the way this horse ran in the Lexington. I’m not scared of anybody. I’m excited to watch this horse run. I think he’ll put in a big effort in 10 more days,” Abrego added. “He’s a big horse, he covers a lot of ground and has good speed. He won’t be too far behind, might be second or third.”

Confidence Game Scheduled to Resume Training Wednesday

Confidence Game, 10th in the Kentucky Derby off a 10-week layoff following his victory in Oaklawn Park’s Rebel (G2), got an extra walk day Tuesday and is expected to return to the track Wednesday at Churchill Downs for a possible start in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

“He slept a bunch (Monday) so I gave him one more day,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said in a text.

Desormeaux, who won the 2016 Preakness with Derby runner-up Exaggerator, said on Monday that a decision on going to Baltimore will be made by Sunday, largely hinging upon Confidence Game’s energy level.

Red Route One and/or Disarm Preakness Candidates

Red Route One, who earned a fees-paid berth in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness by virtue of winning Oaklawn Park’s Bath House Row Stakes, galloped Tuesday after a walk day following Sunday’s workout (five furlongs in 1:01.20) at Churchill Downs.

Red Route One was second in Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes (G3) and Rebel Stakes (G2) before checking in sixth in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He bounced back three weeks later to win the Bath House Row by a head under Joel Rosario.

Disarm, Red Route One’s stablemate and the Kentucky Derby (G1) fourth-place finisher, will go back to the track Wednesday, said Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who trains both Gun Runner colts for owner Ron Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds. At least one of the pair is expected to contest the May 20 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

Chase the Chaos Confirmed for Preakness 148

Trainer Ed Moger Jr. confirmed Tuesday that Chase the Chaos is on course for a start in the 148th Preakness (G1) on May 20 at Pimlico.

Chase the Course earned an automatic fees-paid berth in the Preakness with his victory in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 11 on the home track at Golden Gate Fields. It was the first stakes victory for the Pennsylvania-bred gelding owned by Adam Ference and Bill Dory.

Moger said that Chase the Chaos, who will be his first Preakness starter, will work Saturday and ship to Baltimore on Tuesday.