Kentucky Derby Hero Mystik Dan Arrives at Pimlico Race Course

Kentucky Derby Hero Mystik Dan Arrives at Pimlico Race Course

Brown ‘Confident’ in Tuscan Gold Going into Saturday’s Preakness
Tuesday Travel Day for Baffert Trainees Muth, Imagination
Chasing Freedom Confirmed for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown

LAUREL, MD – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan arrived at Pimlico Race Course for a run in Saturday’s 149th renewal of the Preakness Stakes (G1) just after 4 p.m. Sunday following a van ride from Churchill Downs.

Trainer Kenny McPeek is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore in time for Monday’s post-position draw for the $2 million Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Assistant trainer Ray Bryner accompanied Mystik Dan on his road trip to Pimlico.

“No muss, no fuss. He’s a really easy horse to be around, not complicated,” said Bryner who said he expects the Derby winner to go to the track at Pimlico for a jog and gallop Monday morning at 8:30 following the renovation break.

Mystik Dan will be ridden again by Brian Hernandez Jr., who provided the son of Goldencents a brilliantly executed ride in the Derby, in which the McPeek trainee tracked the early leaders while saving ground before surging to the lead at the top of the stretch along the rail and holding off Sierra Leone by a nose.

TUSCAN GOLD – Trainer Chad Brown has won the Preakness Stakes (G1) twice. He’ll come to Baltimore this weekend confident that he can get No. 3 with the lightly raced Tuscan Gold.

Brown watched the son of Medaglia d’Oro work four furlongs in company with Blazing Sevens, who fell a head short of defeating National Treasure in last year’s Preakness, Saturday at Belmont Park.

“That was the best I have ever seen him work,” Brown said Sunday from his office at Belmont. “He came out of it in good shape.”

Brown said that Tuscan Gold has worked with Blazing Sevens in the past. After seeing the two horses go four furlongs in 49.30 seconds, Brown is more than anxious to see how Tuscan Gold does in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Tuscan Gold will be making his fourth career start in the Preakness, easily the fewest of any of the nine colts expected to run in the 1 3/16-mile spring classic..

“It was a good test for him against a horse that is established,” Brown said of the pairing with Blazing Sevens. “What better horse to prepare him? I thought the work went excellent. I am confident going into the race. He is fast enough on figures to win.”

This will be Brown’s seventh starter in the Preakness. He won in 2017 with Cloud Computing, his first Preakness starter, and in 2022 with Early Voting.

Tuscan Gold, who is owned by William H. Lawrence, Walmac Farm and Stonestreet Stables LLC, will be ridden in the Preakness by Tyler Gaffalione. Gaffalione was the rider when Tuscan Gold finished third behind Preakness rival Catching Freedom and Honor Marie in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds March 23. He also rode when the horse broke his maiden in his second career start, at Gulfstream Park, on Jan. 31.

Brown said that plans call for Tuscan Gold to ship to Baltimore from Belmont on Tuesday.

MUTH / IMAGINATION – Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Muth, the likely favorite for Saturday’s $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, and SF Racing LLC and partners’ Imagination will begin their long day of travel early Tuesday morning from California.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that plans call for the two colts to leave their Santa Anita barn between 1 and 2 a.m. (PST). The cross-country flight, Baffert said, follows around 5 a.m.

“It is a long day,” Baffert said. “Hopefully, they’ll get (to Pimlico) in the afternoon.”

Baffert said he is scheduled to fly to Baltimore Thursday, arriving in the late afternoon.

Muth and Imagination both jogged at Santa Anita Sunday after working in tandem Friday.

“They are both doing well,” Baffert said. “I liked the way they breezed; they were a good team. I am happy the way they are coming into this.”

Muth was last seen winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on March 30, beating Just Steel and Mystik Dan to the wire. Mystik Dan, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, was third in the Arkansas Derby, 6 ¼ lengths behind Muth. Just Steel, who was 17th in the Run for the Roses, was beaten two lengths in the Arkansas Derby by Muth.

Muth will face both horses in the Preakness, a race Baffert has won a record eight times, the most recent being last year with National Treasure.

Imagination had never been worse than second in six career races. When last seen, he was second, beaten a neck by Stronghold in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 6.

“It’s going to be a very competitive race,” Baffert said of the Preakness. “I am really looking forward to it.”

CATCHING FREEDOM – Albaugh Family Stables’ Catching Freedom, the Kentucky Derby (G1) fourth-place finisher, will run in Saturday’s $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning.

Catching Freedom has been training so well at Churchill Downs that Cox felt the colt deserved another chance at a Triple Crown race.

“Obviously we like how he’s doing,” Cox said. “It’s just eight days after the Derby. It’s very important to watch the horse. He has been galloping well. I’m happy with the way he’s moving. Tomorrow (Monday) is entry day, and we are going to ship tomorrow. We need to get our ducks in a row, and we feel he’s shown us enough.”

Flavien Prat, who was aboard for Catching Freedom’s Louisiana Derby (G2) victory and Kentucky Derby run, has the mount.

JUST STEEL / SEIZE THE GREY – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he welcomed the news Saturday that Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan will run in the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

Lukas is scheduled to challenge Mystik Dan with BC Stables LLC and Henry Schmueckle’s Just Steel and MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey.

Mystik Dan’s trainer, Kenny McPeek, spent last week watching how the colt recovered from the stress of running in the Derby before committing to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“I think it's good. It's very good,” Lukas said Sunday while enroute from Kentucky to Baltimore. “I think we needed him. I think the industry needs him. I think it's very important that in this Triple Crown hype that we get that we have the Derby winner participate. And I think Baltimore needed it too. People show up because of a marquee horse and he's the horse of the hour, whether he wins that or not. The other story, I'm sure it'll be (Bob) Baffert showing up. That's wonderful, too.”

Baffert, the Preakness record-holder with eight victories, is scheduled to enter two horses, Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Muth and Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Imagination. They are new shooters to the Triple Crown because Churchill Downs would not take Derby entries from Baffert again this year.

Lukas, who is competing in his 32nd Preakness, said he looks forward to facing McPeek and Baffert on the big Triple Crown stage at the Preakness.

“They're both good friends of mine and I think they bring a lot to the table,” Lukas said. “They really do, and they need to be here.”

Lukas and a crew of four members of his staff left Louisville for Baltimore shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday and arrived at Pimlico shortly after 2 p.m.

“It was a smooth trip for us,” said Lukas, who will have media availability at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The advance party will prepare the stalls at the Preakness Stakes Barn for the Lukas horses that will ship from Kentucky Monday with an expected arrival time at 2 p.m.

“I've got seven of them and whenever we get that many, we always go in a day early and set up,” Lukas said. “It's too chaotic when you come in with seven and a pony, eight head of horses, and they're wanting them off the van and with no screens, nothing, trying to do it all, it's too chaotic.”

Just Steel and Seize the Grey will bring Lukas’ total number of Preakness starters to 48. This will be the 14th time he has had two or more horses in the field. He has six wins. Just Steel was on the pace early in the Derby, but tired in the stretch and finished 17th. Seize the Grey won the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Derby undercard.

“They're doing great,” Lukas said. “They're both doing very, very, very well.”

UNCLE HEAVY – Trainer Butch Reid Jr. served up a very positive report on Uncle Heavy Sunday on the morning after he worked a half-mile in in 47.34 seconds at Parx in preparation for the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.

“The horse is good. Came out of his breeze great,” Reid said. “Ate everything and was sharp this morning. I’m very happy with him.”

The Pennsylvania-bred will likely gallop Monday morning, Reid said, and jog on Tuesday before being shipped from Parx to Pimlico Race Course.

Reid welcomed the addition of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan to the Preakness field.

“It’s OK. We’ve got to take them all on,” Reid said. “We had an idea that some of them might show up. He’s got to come back in two weeks and ship halfway across the country. It’s not an easy task that he’s cut out for that horse.”

Besides his impossible-to-ignore name, Reid said that Uncle Heavy is a cool horse to deal with.

“He's very laid back. He's got a tremendous attitude about him,” Reid said. “He's a big, giant guy that probably weighs over 1,200 pounds, I'm sure, but I’ve never weighed him. He's just a big, gentle giant. Very easy to train in the morning. Doesn't worry about anything. When he comes back from training he lays down and takes a nice long snooze right after training. He's not worried about it. We're way more worried about it than he is.”

Uncle Heavy will be Reid’s first starter in the Preakness. He stepped onto the Road to the Triple Crown with a victory in the Withers (G3) Feb. 3 at Aqueduct. He ended up fifth in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 6, and Reid figured that he did not have enough qualifying points to secure a berth in the Kentucky Derby. After a pair of solid works at Parx, Reid decided to enter Uncle Heavy in the Preakness rather than Saturday’s $200,000 Peter Pan (G3) at Aqueduct.

Michael Milam and Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing LLC, the partners in the colt, are both longtime clients of Reid’s stable. The colt is named for Reid’s older brother, Mark, a retired trainer and bloodstock agent, and was bred by Mark’s wife, Barbara.

Five-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Uncle Heavy in the Preakness.

MUGATU – Average Joe Racing Stables LLC and Dan Wells’ Mugatu exited Saturday’s five-furlong workout in preparation for a start in next Saturday’s $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico in good order, reported trainer Jeff Engler.

“He’s perfect,” said Engler, whose Preakness contender was timed in 59.60 seconds before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 at Belterra Park.

Mugatu most recently finished fifth in the April 6 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland after closing from 10th in his third start on dirt in 12 career races. The son of Blofeld broke his maiden on Tapeta at Gulfstream Park by 3 ¼ lengths last November. He came back to finish fourth in a stakes-quality optional claiming allowance on the main track at Gulfstream. The Kentucky-bred colt ran four times on Tapeta at Turfway Park, including a fourth-place finish in the John Battaglia Memorial, before returning to dirt for the Blue Grass.

“I actually think he prefers the dirt. He ran his biggest number on dirt in the Blue Grass, and he ran a good race at Gulfstream,” Engler said. ”I think he ran well on the Tapeta at Turfway,as well, but I think he’s a better horse on dirt. I brought him to Belterra Park to train him on dirt specifically for that reason, and he’s just thriving on it.”

Mugatu is scheduled to ship to Pimlico Tuesday night.

Joe Bravo, who was aboard Mugatu for his impressive maiden score at Gulfstream the only time he has ridden by Engler trainee, has the call for the Preakness.