The Preakness reached its 14-horse capacity yesterday when trainers Nick Zito and D. Wayne Lukas declared that Noble Causeway, Sun King and Going Wild would contest the second leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
After sending Noble Causeway and Sun King (14th and 15th, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby) out for five-furlong breezes at Churchill Downs, Zito said: "I'm very happy with both of them. So, they're a go."
Zito could add a third entrant today after High Fly breezes at Churchill. If so, then that would make 15 potential starters. Since the Preakness is limited to 14 horses, that would knock Golden Man out of the race. He has the least earnings.
Lukas also breezed Going Wild five furlongs at Churchill. Afterward he pronounced the Derby's 18th-place finisher a Preakness starter.
"He had good energy, I thought, and was pretty focused," Lukas said.
Going Wild completed his workout in 1 minute, 1.40 seconds. Noble Causeway and Sun King completed theirs in 1:02.20 and 1:01.20, respectively.
"Sun King looked like he was doing it real easy," Zito said. "Noble Causeway looked like he went super, and I'm real happy about that.
"They look great. I just wanted to make sure that everything was OK."
Gary Stevens will retain the mount on Noble Causeway, and Rafael Bejarano will replace Edgar Prado on Sun King. Prado switched to High Limit for the Preakness.
Lukas said he would select a jockey for Going Wild from the riders at Pimlico this weekend. Jose Valdivia Jr., who rode Going Wild in the Derby, is riding at his home base in California.
"It's not that Jose didn't ride him well; I love Jose," Lukas said. "But economically I don't have to fly him across the country.
"The thing that happens at Pimlico is you have all those other stakes. So you'll have riders there that you can use. I don't know who's on who now. They're playing musical chairs so fast I can't keep up."
Scrappy T arrives
Scrappy T joined Afleet Alex in the Pimlico stakes barn at 2 p.m. yesterday after a van trip from Delaware Park. Those two are the only Preakness horses on the grounds.
Trained by the Marylander Robbie Bailes, Scrappy T is one of only two Preakness horses who has never finished worse than third. Closing Argument is the other.
A robust son of Fit to Fight, Scrappy T has raced nine times and won three and finished second four times and third twice. His worst performance came in the Wood Memorial Stakes when his saddle slipped, and Bejarano could do little to urge him on the second half of the race. He finished third, 18 1/4 lengths behind Bellamy Road.
Three weeks later, however, Scrappy T won the one-mile Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. The dark-brown gelding has trained well in the ensuing three weeks, Bailes said.
"He's peaking, I hope, this Saturday," Bailes said.
Bailes, 40, has lived in Maryland 25 years and trained here for 15. He has 10 horses at Bowie and eight at Delaware Park in Stanton. This past winter he stabled a string at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
He would prefer staying home, he said, but can't afford to with Maryland racing on the decline.
Giacomo `doing great'
Giacomo, winner of the Kentucky Derby, galloped two miles yesterday at Churchill and will arrive tomorrow at Pimlico along with the other Preakness horses stabled in Louisville.
"The horse is doing great," said John Shirreffs, trainer of the 50-1 Derby victor. "We're just checking to see how energetic he is in his gallops, and he felt very good today."
Shirreffs said he wasn't sure whether he'd breeze Giacomo before the Preakness.
"I take it day by day," he said. "You don't want to be guilty of over-training the horse. I'd like to try to have him come in as fresh as possible."
`Argument' on track
Closing Argument, second in the Kentucky Derby, zipped four furlongs in 49 seconds yesterday at Belmont Park. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was delighted.
"Usually he won't work that fast on his own," he said. "He's been just amazing. He ran a huge race in the Derby, and since then he hasn't missed an oat."