Preakness Prattle: Nothing Too Fancy for Improbable, Laughing Fox


Improbable breezing Monday morning | Horsephotos

TDN Rising Star‘ Improbable (City Zip), fifth across the line, but elevated to fourth in the GI Kentucky Derby May 4, breezed a half-mile in a leisurely :51.80 on a chilly Monday morning at Churchill Downs, much to the satisfaction of trainer Bob Baffert.

“He worked really easy, an easy half around there,” said Baffert, who is shooting for a record-breaking eighth win in the middle leg of the Triple Crown. “I didn’t want to do too much with him. I just wanted to make sure that he still has a lot of energy.”

Perfect in three starts last season, including the GI Los Alamitos Futurity, Improbable is winless in three tries this season, having finished second in the GII Rebel S. and GI Arkansas Derby before his respectable effort beneath the Twin Spires.

“He’s going over the ground really well, looks really healthy,” Baffert continued. “He’s really held his weight really well, especially for a horse who shipped twice to Arkansas and then came back here to run in the Derby. That’s what you want to see this time of the year. It looks like he’s enjoying himself out there, so I don’t see anything that would make me want to change my mind [about running]. We want to go up there and make sure he’s hitting on all cylinders. We don’t want to go up there and embarrass ourselves. So we were looking good today.”

Improbable, who is set to be joined in the Preakness by fellow Derby starters War of Will (War Front), Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}) and Bodexpress (Bodemeister), looms the post-time favorite in the 1 3/16-mile event.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a heavy, heavy favorite,” the conditioner said. “It’s still wide open. Improbable still needs to get away [from the gate]. For some reason, the first 100 yards, he scrambles a little bit. For a horse with as much natural speed as he has, it takes him a while to get going. In the Derby, he was right behind those horses and when Maximum Security slowed it down down the backside, everybody was bottled up behind. It was one of those things where he was fifth and stayed fifth the whole way, there was no moving. I think post position and the break are still very important for him.”

Mike Smith has the call this Saturday.

WATCH: Bob Baffert speaks about potential Preakness favorite Improbable

Laughing Fox Stretches His Legs…

Laughing Fox (Union Rags) worked four furlongs in a very easy :51.60 Monday morning at Churchill Downs. Owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, the chestnut was fourth, some seven lengths behind Improbable in the GI Arkansas Derby Apr. 13, but bounced back to win the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational S. May 4 in a time slightly faster than what it took Omaha Beach (War Front) to win the Arkansas Derby.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent out Curlin (Smart Strike) to win the 2007 and Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) two years later, wasn’t looking for too much.

“Obviously he ran nine days ago–a quick turnaround for him, which we’ve had some success [running back] in two weeks,” said Asmussen. “He’s got a great attitude. Nice cool morning, he felt very good. I thought he went over the racetrack very well. I think in the past we’ve been very happy with how horses who have run at Oaklawn have run at Pimlico, so I feel good about that going up there.”

In other Preakness-related news, John Velazquez has picked up the mount on Bodexpress (Bodemeister), runner-up to the demoted Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby Mar. 30, but home a well-beaten 14th (placed 13th) in the Kentucky Derby.


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