Starlight Racing’s General a Rod, 11th in the Kentucky Derby, will run in the 139th Preakness at Pimlico next Saturday.
That makes three horses from the Derby who are committed to run back, along with winner California Chrome and seventh-place finisher Ride On Curlin.
Starlight, whose managing partners are Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg and Jack Wolf, decided to take a crack at the Preakness based on General a Rod’s troubled trip in the Derby. He was farther back than he usually is early in races, and was steadied twice by jockey Joel Rosario.
He finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Intense Holiday, who is owned exclusively by Starlight, while General a Rod is a joint venture between Starlight and Skychai Racing after a private purchase shortly before the Derby.
Trainer Mike Maker told the Preakness notes team that General a Rod came out of the Derby so well that it makes sense to try the Preakness. As of Friday, there were 10 under consideration for the second leg of the Triple Crown, including the filly Ria Antonia.
“He was full of himself, carrying good flesh, and he didn’t get a chance to show his true colors in the Derby,” Maker said. “It’s the Preakness, and we decided to give it a shot.”
“In hindsight, if we had known that the pace would have been like it was, it would have been better if General a Rod had been where Intense Holiday was,” Wolf said. “If they had switched places, maybe we hit the board with both of them. I thought we would’ve done better. We’ll tee it up again and see what happens.”
General a Rod will get a rider switch to Javier Castellano, since Rosario has committed to replace Calvin Borel on Ride On Curlin.
The rest of the prospective field, for now, includes Dynamic Impact, Bayern, Social Inclusion, Pablo Del Monte, Kid Cruz and Ring Weekend.
Pablo Del Monte drew into the Derby field because of the scratch of Hoppertunity, but his connections decided not to run because he was stuck with the No. 20 post.
Social Inclusion is the only Preakness runner on the Pimlico grounds. Most of the rest are scheduled to arrive on Monday.
BELMONT PARK WEEKEND
Palace Malice returns to the site of his biggest career win, but doesn’t have much competition at Belmont Park, as only three chose to challenge him in the Grade III Westchester on Sunday.
The 2013 Belmont Stakes winner is 1-9 on the morning line and will run on a card that also includes two Grade I’s, the Man o’ War and Ruffian.
The weekend kicks off today with a prep for the Belmont Stakes, the Grade II Peter Pan, which has drawn a strong pair of Palace Malice’s stablemates, Commissioner and Matterhorn.
The 2-1 favorite is Tonalist, second to Constitution at Gulfstream Park in a race that also included Wicked Strong. Constitution went on to win the Florida Derby before being shut down with an injury, and Wicked Strong went on to win the Wood Memorial before finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Commissioner, who broke his maiden at Saratoga Race Course last year, hasn’t won since an allowance at Gulfstream. The son of 1992 Peter Pan and Belmont winner was considered a Derby prospect, but was sixth in the Fountain of Youth, third in the Sunland Derby and sixth in the Arkansas Derby when he acted up before the race.
“Things didn’t go well in the paddock, and we feel it compromised his chances before he even got out there,” trainer Todd Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “Hopefully, we’ll correct that and get a true reading on him.”
Palace Malice is 2-for-2 in 2014, winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap over Golden Ticket and the New Orleans Handicap by 43⁄4 lengths over Normandy Invasion. He’ll face just three in the Westchester on Sunday, which will be shown on tape during a live broadcast of the Man o’ War and Ruffian on FS1.
Pletcher said the Westchester result will determine whether to run Palace Malice in the Met Mile on Belmont Day or longer Brooklyn Handicap.
Mechanicville’s Chad Brown trains the slight second choice in the Man o’ War, 2013 Arlington Million winner Real Solution. Amira’s Prince is the 5-2 favorite after a runner-up to Skyring in the Mervyn Muniz, a race he won last year.
Grace Hall, winner of the 2011 Spinaway at Saratoga, will make her first start in 13 months in the Ruffian. She’ll face 2-1 favorite Fiftyshadesofhay, the Black Eyed Susan winner and Alabama runner-up to Princess of Sylmar last year.