BALTIMORE (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah and stablemate Dortmund stretched their legs for the first time at Pimlico Race Course on Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s Preakness.
The colts trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert were flown in from Louisville, Kentucky, to Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon.
Both went out for a morning gallop on a pleasantly cool and sunny morning.
Dortmund, third in the Derby, was the first onto the track shortly after 8:30 a.m. The massive colt looked fresh and fit as he focused on a tour of the oval.
American Pharoah followed right behind, gliding over the surface in his usual nimble fashion.
“This cold air really puts these horses on their toes,” said Baffert, a five-time Preakness winner. “They were happy to get out. They just marched up to the racetrack, eager to get to work. You don’t want to lead them up there like a borrowed dog. They looked healthy, bright, in top condition.”
If that good form holds, it could be a very predictable Preakness.
American Pharoah is the 4-5 favorite, with Dortmund the 7-2 second choice. They will follow the same morning routine Friday. No timed workouts are planned, only gallops to keep both horses sharp.
They will take walks around the paddock to get comfortable with the unfamiliar track.
“My job is to get the saddle on them so they don’t get stirred up,” Baffert said. “We can only fine tune them. We only have a couple of days.”
He compared the wait until race time as keeping the horses in “bubble wrap. The week before the Derby was smooth. This week has been smooth for them.”
NERVE VERVE: It takes some nerve to run Tale of Verve in the Preakness.
The colt has never been in a stakes race. He had never won any kind of race until beating fellow maidens at Keeneland in late April.
In an ambitious move, owner Charles Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart entered Tale of Verve in the Kentucky Derby after that initial victory. He wound up on the also-eligible list, waiting in vain for a timely scratch to put him in the race.
When that didn’t happen, the focus shifted to the Preakness.
While he lacks experience at this level, Tale of Verve should not have a problem with the distance. The late-running colt’s victory was 1 3/16 miles, the same as the Preakness.
“The longer the better for him,” Stewart said.
As for the step up in class to the Preakness, Stewart does not see it as insurmountable.
“There were a lot of horses that ran bad races in the Derby, and it wasn’t like they were flying home with the last quarter in 26 (seconds),” the former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas said.
Joel Rosario, second in last year’s Preakness aboard Ride On Curlin, rides the 30-1 shot.
LOOKING WET: The Baltimore weather forecast is unsettled for Saturday, calling for a chance of showers with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation is 40 percent, according to the National Weather Service.
A wet day could end the Preakness streak of fast tracks dating to 2004. Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide won the 2003 Preakness by 9 3/4 lengths over a track rated “good.”
Rain or shine, it should be a warm day with temperatures topping out in the mid-80s.
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)