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Thursday’s Trackside Preakness Report: Full Field, Full Morning

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Improbable | Joe Bianca

By Joe Bianca

BALTIMORE, MD–After a fairly quiet Wednesday morning over Pimlico’s main track, activity spiked dramatically Thursday morning, as 10 of the 13 horses entered in Saturday’s GI Preakness S. made appearances in front of a steadily growing crowd of onlookers.

First on the track at around 6:10 a.m. was Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable’s Bourbon War (Tapit), who vanned in from Belmont Park for trainer Mark Hennig Wednesday morning after training hours. The runner-up in the GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S., who was last seen running fourth in the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby Mar. 30 at Gulfstream, had a strong gallop once around the oval as a light but persistent rain fell.

Ten minutes later, the third choice on the morning line, Peter Redekop’s Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), also tested out the Pimlico surface for the first time. Wearing a blue shadow roll, the $360,000 OBS June purchase lightly jogged past the stands after shipping in from trainer Blaine Wright’s Northern California base Wednesday. Not far behind him was Market King (Into Mischief), who traversed the Pimlico track for the second consecutive day and traveled at a much quicker clip than Anothertwistafate. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas kept close watch from aboard a pony on the outside rail and was easy to spot in his trademark bright yellow raincoat.

The precipitation picked up significantly as Rupp Racing’s Owendale (Into Mischief) also made his maiden trip to the Pimlico main track shortly after 6:30. The chestnut, who earned a trip to the Preakness with a 12-1 upset of the GIII Coolmore Lexington S. Apr. 13 at Keeneland, acquitted himself well, going at a good gallop and coming back without noticeably blowing.

Next on the track was longshot Signalman (General Quarters) at around 6:45. Pegged at 30-1 on the Preakness morning line, the bay followed up some light exercise Wednesday morning with an encouraging and more substantial gallop for trainer Ken McPeek. Looking well in the flesh as the rain began to let up, he circuited the track twice, picking up the pace the second time around, and returned feeling good about himself, staying on his toes all the way until he exited. The $32,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling appears to be sitting on a peak effort, and will likely need to bring one to factor Saturday.

Close in tow behind Signalman was Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Laughing Fox (Union Rags) making his Pimlico debut. The blaze-faced chestnut went once around at a measured gallop and walked slowly past the growing crowd heading back to the barn. The $375,000 OBS March buy, fourth in the GI Arkansas Derby, closed from well back to capture the Oaklawn Park Invitational S. just 13 days ago to punch his ticket to Baltimore.

The grandstand apron really began to fill up by 7:00 with a much bigger crowd than the previous day’s, as fans of all ages gravitated towards the rail to catch sight of Preakness trainees with the rain having subsided. Last up before the renovation break at 7:05 was Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables’ Warrior’s Charge (Munnings), who got in a healthy canter and looked powerful while doing it. The Brad Cox pupil will make his stakes debut in the Preakness after back-to-back blowout wins against lesser company at Oaklawn Park.

The sun began to peek through the clouds shortly after the harrows appeared and was fully out by 7:50, quickly drying out what moisture the dirt had absorbed from the earlier showers.

Under abundant sunshine, Bodexpress (Bodemeister) was first out after the renovation break, and replicated much of what he did Wednesday, lightly jogging and going at an easy clip while traversing the oval several times alongside a pony. Next came the most anticipated new face of the week, as Bob Baffert’s lone starter, Grade I-winning ‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) put in a healthy gallop. The popular chestnut, made a lukewarm favorite at 5-2 on the morning line, was all business and showed no ill effects from his fourth-place run in the GI Kentucky Derby in his brief appearance. The star of Wednesday’s show then closed out the Thursday activity, as War of Will (War Front) once again made a strong impression. While perhaps not having quite as much energy in his gallop as the day before, he nevertheless looked typically fantastic in his flesh and coat. It appears as though getting him to Pimlico early in the week has allowed the dark bay to settle in comfortably for trainer Mark Casse.

The only three Preakness horses still not on the grounds Thursday morning were Fair Hill shippers Alwaysmining (Mineshaft), 8-1 on the morning line, Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}), 15-1 on the morning line, and 50-1 longshot Everfast (Take Charge Indy), a last-minute entrant to the field Wednesday who was fifth in the GIII Pat Day Mile S. on the Derby undercard May 4.

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