By Steve Sherack
BALTIMORE, Md – With a full day of action kicking off at soggy Pimlico just before 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, here’s a timeline of some of the day’s highlights ahead of Saturday’s 143rd renewal of the GI Preakness S.
6:04 a.m. – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, aboard his popular stable pony Starbuck, was already leading back last year’s GI Hopeful S. winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Sporting Chance (Tiznow) to the stakes barn as some light rain continued to fall shortly after sunrise. With heavy overnight thunderstorms leaving the Pimlico main track a sloppy mess (more of this is unfortunately forecasted for the remainder of the week), the dark bay was out for only light exercise. The same went for stablemate Bravazo (Awesome Again), winner of the GII Risen Star S. and sixth-place finisher in the GI Kentucky Derby, who headed out about 15 minutes later. The Lukas pair also both schooled in the paddock.
7:00 a.m. – Lukas was in his element holding court with reporters while Sporting Chance nibbled on some nearby grass adjacent the stakes barn. “If we’re going to do something serious on that racetrack, we’ve got to get paid for it,” the six-time Preakness winner said.
7:15 a.m. – A Sunrise Tour group of about 20, including several young children, stopped in their tracks to check out champion Good Magic (Curlin) as he began walking under-tack. The GI Kentucky Derby runner-up glided over the wet going quite nicely for the second straight day under the watchful eye of Chad Brown’s traveling assistant Baldo Hernandez. Good Magic didn’t get as warm as he did during his first trip to the track Tuesday and appears to have bounced back from his solid effort in Louisville in top form. Good Magic galloped about 1 1/4 miles beneath regular exercise rider Walter Malasquez, making two trips past the Pimlico grandstand.
11:15 a.m. – Kentucky Derby winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy) departs Churchill Downs for his flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Justify was joined on the flight by GI Arkansas Derby runner-up and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Quip (Distorted Humor) and Derby eighth-place finisher Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior).
3:03 p.m. – Diamond King (Quality Road), a last out winner of Laurel’s Federico Tesio S., was the first of the Wednesday afternoon Preakness arrivals at Old Hilltop.
3:49 p.m. – With a very large crowd looking on, including WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden, Justify bounced off the van with good energy on Pimlico’s backstretch as Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert eyed him closely. Quip and Lone Sailor followed a few minutes later. How did Justify settle into his new digs at the stakes barn? “He’s wearing me out,” Baffert said with a laugh to a large group of press after walking the strapping chestnut around the shedrow.
5:17 p.m. – It’s lucky number seven for Justify once again. Justify was installed as the 1-2 morning-line favorite for the second leg of the Triple Crown after drawing the same post he did in the Derby at the Stronach Group chalet in the Pimlico infield. Good Magic, the second-choice at 3-1, was assigned slot five.