Tom Pedulla presents five takeaways from the 145thPreakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore as well as Breeders’ Cup “Win and In” Challenge Series races that were run at Keeneland Race Course on Saturday:
WHAT’S NEXT?: Swiss Skydiver had already secured a fees-paid berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Now, her emergence as the sixth filly to win the Preakness is accompanied by a free pass into the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic. Which race will trainer Ken McPeek and owner Peter Callahan choose on Nov. 7 at Keeneland? Reporters did not wait long to raise the issue during the Preakness post-race press conference. “We can look at both races, I suppose,” McPeek responded. “We got into the Distaff after the Alabama (Stakes), but I would say right now we would probably lean toward older fillies and mares. But nothing is set in stone and we don’t have to make the decision today, I don’t think.” Zenyatta remains the only female to defeat males in the Classic since the inception of the Breeders’ Cup in 1984, accomplishing that in 2009.
BACK ON TRACK: Robby Albarado, 47, has been conspicuous in his absence from major races in recent years. He heard opportunity knocking when McPeek, with whom he has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship, offered him the Preakness mount on Swiss Skydiver. “People started thinking I can’t do it anymore,” Albarado said, “and Kenny was there just when I needed someone.” Albarado prepared thoroughly, galloping the filly each morning at Pimlico Race Course and scrutinizing replays of her eight previous races this season. His acumen to make a bold move up the rail that allowed him to get a jump on eventual runner-up Authentic reminded everyone of his ability to still get the job done. “He’s going to get more opportunities again. I can tell you that right now,” McPeek said.
DRAMATIC PROGRESS: Trainer Jose D’Angelo was ecstatic with the third-place finish of Jesus’ Team, considering how far the 3-year-old has come. Jesus’ Team was made available for a $50,000 claiming tag when he began his career Nov. 7 at Gulfstream Park West. He was valued for half that much as recently as May 8, when he dominated a one-mile contest at Gulfstream Park by 6 ¾ lengths. He began to make huge strides soon afterward. “He’s really improved every day,” said D’Angelo, adding, “I’m very happy for the result in this race, the Preakness Stakes, one of the most important races for 3-year-olds in this amazing country.” The trainer said he is undecided about whether to aim for the Breeders’ Cup or begin preparations for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes early next year.
LONG WAIT ENDS: Trainer Paulo Lobo earned his first Grade 1 victory since 2004 when Ivar sprung a 14.40-1 upset in the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland to earn a place in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup FanDuel Mile Presented by PDJF on Nov. 7. Lobo was beside himself during the stretch run as he cheered his horse to a one-length victory against Raging Bull. “You know how hard it is to win a Grade 1, especially here at Keeneland? We need to celebrate,” he said. Jockey Joe Talamo and Ivar launched a breathtaking rally from near the back of the pack. Despite long odds, the 4-year-old Ivar demonstrated quality when he produced two Group 1 wins in Argentina last year. Pico Central had presented Lobo with his last Grade 1 triumph, in the Vosburgh Stakes.
REPEAT WINNER: Sol Kumin and his partners wondered if they had done right by Uni in bringing her back for her 6-year-old campaign. They do not doubt themselves any longer. She rallied past stablemate Newspaperofrecord before holding off Beau Recall to become the first repeat winner of the $350,000 First Lady Stakes Presented by UK HealthCare at Keeneland. Although Uni earned a berth in the $2 million Makers’ Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, Kumin indicated she is more likely to defend her title against males in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup FanDuel Mile Presented by PDJF. “If she is able to do it again,” Kumin said, “it would be Hall of Fame good.”