No `Rocker' at Pimlico

Horse not entered

Gayego might be in

Preakness

May 13, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

Possible Preakness horses: They come, they go.

Yesterday, trainer Todd Pletcher said Harlem Rocker would go to Canada to run in the Queen's Plate on June 22 at Woodbine outside Toronto instead of coming to the Preakness, and the trainer for Gayego, the 17th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, said he is reconsidering and will decide today about bringing his 3-year-old.

Harlem Rocker, owned by Frank Stronach, chairman of Magna Entertainment, which owns Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness, is undefeated and the only horse whom Rick Dutrow, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, said he has any respect for.

"I spoke to Mr. Stronach, and we've decided to take a conservative approach," Pletcher said. "We're going to point toward the [Grade I] Queen's Plate and look for bigger races down the road."

Behindatthebar, Pletcher's other horse, breezed five furlongs at Belmont Park in 1 minute, 0.13 of a second Sunday, and Pletcher said the winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland appears ready.

"I thought he worked well," Pletcher said. "It's the first time we've worked him on a traditional dirt track, and he seemed to handle it real well. He came out of it well, so he's ready to go."

As has been the situation most of the past week, when one horse goes out, another appears on the horizon. This time it is Gayego, who had a troubled trip at Churchill Downs.

"That's the reason we're thinking about the Preakness," trainer Paulo Lobo said of his Arkansas Derby winner. "He never really got into the race after his early troubles. So I'm going to decide [today].

"He's very happy right now, and he came back very sound. We are going to have a meeting. I'm going to track him in the morning, then we'll make a decision."

Note -- Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Chris Dragone said the restored Grade I Pimlico Special, which returns, with a nine-horse field, to the racing card Friday after a one-year absence, will be called the Maryland Lottery Pimlico Special. The Maryland Lottery is contributing an unspecified six-figure sum to the $250,000 race. "I'm thrilled that after a year off we've been able to come back with a field like this," Dragone said of the 1 3/16-mile race for older horses.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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