Firing Line Preparing for Preakness Rematch


Firing Line at Churchill Downs. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)

Firing Line has finished second to Bob Baffert trainees in two of his three starts this year but his owner Arnold Zetcher doesn’t hold it against the trainer, who also trains some of Zetcher’s horses.

“I have horses with Simon [Callaghan], Bob Baffert, Chad Brown on the East Coast and John Shireffs,” Zetcher said. “I spread them around a bit.”

Firing Line’s trainer Simon Callaghan is a newer addition to Zetcher’s string of trainers with the first horse he trained for Zetcher being multiple Grade 1 winning filly Fashion Plate, who Zetcher owned in partnership. Sending more horses to the trainer has seemed to work out for Zetcher as Firing Line finished a competitive second in last week’s Kentucky Derby and is aiming for next Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

“When you have your first horse with a trainer and she’s a multiple-Grade 1 winner, it kind of opens your eyes,” Zetcher said. “Before I had horses with Simon, I watched him, and I was always impressed with the competitiveness of the horses he put on the track.”

Callaghan’s training of competitive horses has transferred to Firing Line, who has lost close photo finishes to Baffert’s Dortmund twice. In his final Kentucky Derby prep, Firing Line set a track record in the Sunland Derby when winning by more than 14 lengths. The colt stuck with American Pharoah during most of the stretch in the Kentucky Derby but ultimately lost by a length, some of which could possibly be blamed by Firing Line not switching leads in the stretch.

Firing Line won’t be breezing before the Preakness, but put in an aggressive six furlong gallop on Sunday, with the same planned for Monday. The colt is scheduled to leave Churchill Downs and ship to Baltimore on Wednesday.

This morning the Preakness suffered a defection but also gained an entrant after morning works.

Mr. Z, who finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby, isn’t going to run in the race with owner Ahmed Zayat saying they are going to focus on rebuilding the horse’s confidence in his next race. Mr. Z was a familiar name on the Kentucky Derby trail, racing in nine Kentucky Derby points races, including one where he was in a three-way photo finish with Dortmund and Firing Line.

Tale of Verve, who was an also-eligible in the Kentucky Derby but wasn’t able to run, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday at Churchill Downs. The colt broke his maiden on April 23 and will be stepping up to stakes company for the first time in the Preakness.

"He is fit and fresh and we are excited to see what we have,” said trainer Dallas Stewart after the work. “(Joel) Rosario will ride. He was on him when he broke his maiden.”

Bob Baffert’s trainees American Pharoah and Dortmund, schooled in the starting gate before galloping 1 ½ miles on Sunday morning. Baffert is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Sunday afternoon and both horses will ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.

Bodhisattva, who is entering the Preakness off of a win in the Federico Tesio Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:04 at Laurel Park on Sunday. The horse was ridden by jockey Trevor McCarthy and owner-trainer Jose Corrales, who will be making his first start in a Triple Crown race, was happy with the work.

“I think he did pretty good,” Corrales said. “I did not want a fast work or anything like that. I just wanted to stretch him out and let him feel good about it. He really just galloped next to the other horse. Trevor said he could not hold him in the beginning, but he managed to do it.”

Possible Preakness Contenders



Most Recent Race

American Pharoah

Bob Baffert

Won Kentucky Derby


Jose Corrales

Won Federico Tesio Stakes

Carpe Diem

Todd Pletcher

10th in Kentucky Derby

Competitive Edge

Todd Pletcher

Won Pat Day Mile Stakes

Danzig Moon

Mark Casse

Fifth in Kentucky Derby

Divining Rod

Arnaud Delacour

Won Coolmore Lexington Stakes


Bob Baffert

Third in Kentucky Derby

Firing Line

Simon Callaghan

Second in Kentucky Derby


Todd Pletcher

Sixth in Kentucky Derby


Todd Pletcher

Second in Louisiana Derby

Tale of Verve

Dallas Stewart

Won maiden race at Keeneland on 4-23

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