The Brock Talk

Monday, May 16, 2011

Animal Kingdom Gallops Into Preakness. Asmussen Not Sure On Nehro

Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom will likely face a full field of challengers in the Preakness (gr. I) as it appears that at least 14 are pointing toward the second leg of the Triple Crown.

It will be the first time the Preakness starting gate will be filled with 14 starters since 2005 when 50-1 Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby. Prior to that, it was in 1992 when the Preakness last featured a full field. That year the Kentucky Derby was won by 16-1 shot Lil E. Tee with Casual Lies (29-1) second and Dance Floor (33-1). This year, Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby at 20-1 with 8-1 Nehro second and Mucho Macho Man (9-1) third.

The full 14-horse field does not concern Graham Motion, trainer of Animal Kingdom, who told the Preakness notes team that he is just hoping for a good post position.

Although the gate is expected to be full for the Preakness, the field has not yet been set in stone. Trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Ahmed Zayat have said they will make a decision Tuesday as to whether Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehor will go in the Preakness after watching him work a half-mile in :50-4/5 over a sloppy Churchill Downs track Monday the two

Nehro was second in his three previous races, the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 26, the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 16 and the May 7 Kentucky Derby so the Preakness would be the colt’s fourth start in just eight weeks. “He’s done a lot over a short period of time,” Asmussen said. “I think you’re trying to evaluate the runs, the races themselves and how he’s doing, while also trying to weigh the opportunity that is ahead of you.” Asmussen and Zayat are pondering whether to save Nehro and his come-from-behind running style for the 1-1/2 mile Belmont Stakes or go this week in the Preakness.

If Nehro is not entered into the Preakness, that would make way for Isn’t He Perfect, most recently fifth in the Jerome.

Amsussen also worked Astrology a half-mile Monday at Churchill Downs. Considered a definite for the Preakness, Astrology covered the work in :50.60. Like his stable mate Nehro, Astrology also has three seconds in his last three starts going back to the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) in November. After overcoming an illness this winter in Southern California, Astrology was also a runner-up in the Sunland Derby (gr. III) March 27 and the Jerome (gr. II) at Belmont Park April 23.

Kentucky Derby favorite Dialed In is also set the Preakness after finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby. Dialed In encountered two problems during the Run for the Roses which give his supporters plenty of hope in the Preakness. After being pinched back at the start, Dialed In found himself unusually far back from pace setter Shackleford. Hence, Dialed In’s second problem. Shackleford was able to slow the pace of the Kentucky Derby to a pedestrian pace while setting the slowest half-mile fractional time (:48.63) since 1947 making it even more difficult for the come-from-behind running style of Dialed In. “You just can’t win in those situations, but he came with his run,” trainer Nick Zito said. “It was probably the best eighth-place finish in Kentucky Derby history.”

Should Dialed In win the Preakness, it will be a $6.1 million payday for him. Dialed In won the Florida Derby (gr. I) at sister track Gulfstream Park fulfilling the first part of the 5.5 Bonus set up by the Magna Corporation. Should Dialed In also win the Preakness, he would earn the $5.5 million bonus to be added to $600,000 winner’s share of the Preakness should the son of Mineshaft win.

Sway Away, who just missed becoming eligible for the Kentucky Derby with his 21st rank in graded earnings, is set for the Preakness and hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of his family. Sway Away is the son of 2005 Preakness winner Afleet Alex and his dam is a daughter of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and granddaughter of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

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