Although Lemon Drop Kid won't run in the Preakness, look for him in the Belmont.
Trainer Scotty Schulhofer and Maryland owners Jinny Vance and Laddie Dance say they haven't lost confidence in the colt. They just want to preserve him for races later this season.
"It's a long year," Schulhofer said from his barn at Belmont Park. "And he's a young horse."
A May 26 foal, Lemon Drop Kid had a rough trip in the Blue Grass Stakes, finishing fifth, and an even rougher trip in the Kentucky Derby, finishing ninth. His trainer and owners plan on running him May 23 in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes and then two weeks later in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.
Both are at Belmont Park, his home track and site of his biggest victory, the Grade I Futurity last September.
"It'd be very nice being Marylanders to win the Preakness, or to participate in the Preakness," said Laddie Dance, who is married to Jinny Vance. "But we weren't anxious to get into another full field and maybe draw the same spot we did in the Derby [the extreme outside].
"The Peter Pan will probably be a little easier race. It might be a nice confidence builder for him. After two rough races we don't want him to start thinking that racing's all bad."
The Peter Pan will prepare him for the Belmont, Dance said.
"If we had our druthers, we'd rather win at a mile and a half than win the Preakness," he said. "There's no guarantee he'll do any better in the Belmont, but we want to give it a whirl."
Menifee and Silverbulletday, the likely favorites in the Preakness, tuned up yesterday with sizzling workouts at Churchill Downs.
Menifee worked four furlongs in 47 seconds and galloped out in 59 3/5 seconds, prompting his trainer, Elliott Walden, to say: "Good horses work fast. He's feeling good, and we're ready to go."
Menifee and the other Preakness horses -- as well as horses for other weekend stakes at Pimlico -- will be flown tomorrow from Louisville, Ky., to Baltimore.
"He's run every one of his races on a different track and handled them well," Walden said. "I'm not worried about that. He knows how to ship."
From his outside post in the Derby, Menifee charged late for second. He will possibly be favored in the Preakness. Derby winner Charismatic may be no better than fifth choice, according to the line released yesterday by Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
If Menifee is not favored, Silverbulletday may be. The filly has won 10 of 11 races, most so convincingly that many have called for her inclusion in a race against the males. They may be about to get their wish.
She zipped five furlongs in 59 seconds and galloped out in 1 minute, 11 3/5 seconds.
"I figured after she worked they'd have to put water on the track to cool it down," said her trainer, Bob Baffert. "That's what you want to see coming into a race like the Preakness."
Baffert's other filly, Excellent Meeting, will work today. Then both will be entered tomorrow in the Preakness. They're already entered in Friday's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Baffert said he will pick their races based on their Preakness post positions, which will be selected beginning at 5 p.m. tomorrow live on ESPN.
"It's the luck of the draw now," Baffert said. "Fate will decide whether we run or not."
Badge was the only other Preakness horse to breeze yesterday, covering four furlongs at Belmont Park in a moderate 49 1/5 seconds and galloping out in 1 minute, 2 seconds. His trainer, Joe Aquilino, said the track was heavy after being muddy the day before.
Phil Marino, trainer of Lead Em Home, told Pimlico racing officials that he is 99 percent sure his horse will bypass the Preakness for the Sir Barton Stakes. Along with the defection of First American, that means all 14 horses (including Valhol, controversial winner of the Arkansas Derby) vying for berths in the Preakness will get in -- unless surprise entrants surface at the last minute.