Noble's Promise might take another run at Super Saver

Trainer considering scrapping plan to race in England

May 04, 2010|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

Calvin Borel's Triple Crown prediction notwithstanding, horse racing connections were busy Monday lining up for a shot at Super Saver in the 135th Preakness Stakes.

Officials for Pimlico Race Course said 17 horses were under consideration for the race, including two who already are confirmed: Super Saver, who won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and Dublin, who finished seventh. The Preakness has a 14-horse limit.

But the big news of the day was that Noble's Promise, who fleetingly held the lead at the quarter pole in Louisville, Ky., before finishing fifth, might head to Baltimore instead of England, as originally planned.

After meeting with the managing partners of Chasing Dreams Racing 2008 on Monday afternoon at his Magdalena Farm in Lexington, Ky., trainer Kenny McPeek said it was no longer doubtful, but "possible" that Noble's Promise will run here.

"We discussed the race in England, which we think would be a fantastic race," McPeek told Pimlico officials, "but we're concerned about the expense of going over and back, plus the purse on that race was modest compared to the Preakness. We felt like it would be more prestigious to run in the [$1 million] Preakness."

The alternative was going to Royal Ascot for the St. James' Palace (Group I) Stakes to run a mile on grass on June 15.

"It's an excellent weekend of racing, and we're excited to be a part of it," McPeek said. "We think it would be great to come up there and do really well. Right now, it's just possible. We're going to watch the next few days, and I want to do blood work [on Noble's Promise]. He scoped clean after the race, and we were pleased with that. He ate up since then. Those are good signs."

McPeek's colt has been in the money in seven of nine career starts. One of Promise's three wins came in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October. He lost at the wire to Lookin At Lucky in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and finished fifth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

"He ran a great race," McPeek said of the fading Derby effort. "He is a special colt. Does he have distance limitations? We have to admit he might have them. Do we tinker and see if we can get him to go that far? We're willing to try."

Legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas also wants another shot at Super Saver for his horse, Dublin, seventh in Louisville. The son of 2005 Preakness winner Afleet Alex, Dublin finished third — a neck behind Super Saver and winner Line of David — in the Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Lukas, who has won the Preakness five times, will bring Dublin and three other horses to Pimlico on May 11. A day later, trainer Todd Pletcher will arrive with Super Saver for the post position draw.

"He is doing well," Pletcher said of the Derby winner. "His appetite is good, he is feeling good. Everything in the first 48 hours is very good."

Pletcher also said he would decide by the weekend on whether to breeze or gallop his horse before the Preakness. Borel, Super Saver's jockey, predicted a Triple Crown victory for his horse immediately after the Derby.

Other Derby horses still being considered for the 13/16-mile Preakness are Paddy O'Prado (third), Lookin At Lucky (sixth) and Jackson Bend (12th). Trainer Nick Zito said Sunday his horse, runner-up Ice Box, is doubtful.

At least seven new horses, or shooters, are expected to run at Pimlico, including the first three finishers in the Derby Trial — Hurricane Ike, Aikenite and Pleasant Price — all of whom will ship to Baltimore on May 12.

Pleasant Prince, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, lost by a head bob to Ice Box in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and has finished in the money in five of nine career starts.

Schoolyard Dreams is another horse worth watching. He finished ahead of Super Saver but lost by a nose to Odysseus in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 13. In his last start, the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, he was fourth.

The Preakness hasn't had a full field since 2005, but it has had double-digit starters in 15 of the last 18 years. If more than 14 horses are nominated, the first seven starters will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes. The next four will be determined by the highest lifetime earnings in all nonrestricted stakes (those stakes with no restrictions other than age or sex), and the last three by the highest lifetime earnings in all races.

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