Preakness Stakes Workouts and Notes for 5/13/22

Early Voting breezed at Belmont Park for the Preakness Stakes. (Adam Coglianese photo)

Early Voting 'Super' In Final Tune Up for Preakness Stakes

(Edited Press Release)

Under cloudy skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s in the Elmont area on May 13, Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting put together his final serious preparations for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

Trained by Chad Brown, Early Voting breezed under jockey Jose Ortiz to the outside of stable mate Miles D. The pair of stakes winners went three-eighths in :36.40 before completing the five furlong move in 1:00.63 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 flat over the fast main track.

“He hit the times just as I wanted and he galloped out super,” Brown said of Early Voting. “If he comes out of the breeze in good shape, then he’s on to Pimlico. Tentatively, I’m thinking of shipping the horse on Tuesday.”

The lightly-raced son of leading second-crop sire Gun Runner will arrive at the Preakness off a narrow defeat in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 9 at Aqueduct, which came following an open-lengths triumph in the Grade 3 Withers two months prior.

Brown and Seth Klarman, proprietor of Klaravich Stables, scored a collaborative victory in the 2017 Preakness Stakes with Cloud Computing, who outdueled 2016 Champion 2-Year-Old Classic Empire in the stretch to give both connections their first win in an American Classic.

Like Cloud Computing, Early Voting also will arrive at the Preakness off the Wood Memorial with only three starts under his belt. Cloud Computing was third in the 2017 Wood Memorial finishing seven lengths behind Irish War Cry.

“There’s a lot of similarities,” Brown said. “They both are lightly-raced, improving horses that are coming out of the Wood and could use a little more time and experience rather than throw them into a 20-horse field in the Derby.”

Brown added that he hasn’t completely ruled out a run in the Preakness for Zandon, who was third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but said he was doubtful for the race.

“I'm going make a final decision this weekend,” Brown said. “It has nothing to do with who's running, not running. I just want to observe the horse and I'm leaning strongly against running. I just want to be thorough and make sure I’m not making a mistake not running, looking at the horse. All signs point to him benefiting from a little time now in between starts, but I want to be sure, and I'll decide by the end of the weekend for sure.”

Peter Brant and Robert V. LaPenta’s Miles D also is slated for a trip to Maryland next weekend and will point to the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special next Friday.

The 4-year-old son of Curlin has made one start this year, finishing third to multiple graded stakes winner Olympiad in the Grade 3 Mineshaft on Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds Race Course. Last year, he finished second in his Hall of Fame sire’s namesake race at Saratoga en route to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers the following month. He capped off his sophomore campaign with a victory over Speaker’s Corner in the Discovery on November 17 at Aqueduct.

“Miles D worked inside, he’s actually a little better outside, but it set it up that way today,” said Brown, who won the 2013 Pimlico Special with Last Gunfighter. “He got a lot of the work this morning. He missed a little time because he got sick before the Oaklawn Handicap, so we missed that race. He should appreciate the distance of the Pimlico Special.”

A $470,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Miles D is out of the Bernardini mare Sound the Trumpets, a half-sister to 2002 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Storm Flag Flying. Her respective second and third dam are 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag and undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign.

Grade 1-placed Distinctlypossible, who captured her maiden win going two turns at Keeneland last out, will target the Grade 2, $250,000 Black Eyed Susan on May 20 at Pimlico. The sophomore Curlin filly finished second to Juju’s Map in last year’s Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland before arriving off a six-month layoff in style in her last out win on April 10. She is owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Gary Finder, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron and Team Hanley.

Happy Jack Joins Preakness Cast

One of these days, Calumet Farm’s homebred Happy Jack is due to run a big one in a big race.

Trainer Doug O’Neill hopes that day comes May 21, when Happy Jack runs in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at historic Pimlico Race Course.

After speaking with Calumet owner Brad Kelley, O’Neill reported that Happy Jack will get a second try in this year’s Triple Crown. He finished 14th in the May 7 Kentucky Derby at odds of 23-1. The colt is still at Churchill Downs. O’Neill, back at his California base, said Happy Jack will ship to Pimlico “probably on Tuesday.”

"We did a bunch of diagnostics on him, pulled blood,” O’Neill said. “He is checking all the boxes of a horse that exited his recent race in good shape. We like the Preakness distance, and we like a shorter field than the 20 horses in the Derby.”

Then, after a pause, O’Neill said, “Oh, by the way, his sire, Oxbow, won this race and that is kind of a cool thing.”

Oxbow, also owned by Calumet Farm, won the 2013 Preakness for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Oxbow got the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans after winning the race at odds of 15-1.

"Mr. Kelley runs a huge operation,” O’Neill said. “He has a lot of skin in the game. He loves his horses and takes no shortcuts and surrounds them with the best people he can find. If a horse is doing well and showing they can get in and compete against the finest, he is game that way. I love it. No guts, no glory.”

Of course, O’Neill has a little history of his own in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, having saddled Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another for a victory in the 2012 Preakness.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, Happy Jack broke his maiden in his first career start, winning a six-furlong race at Santa Anita on Jan. 22 by 1 ¼ lengths. O’Neill was so impressed that he sent the colt to the Feb. 6 Robert B. Lewis (G3), in which he finished fifth, beaten 27 ¼ lengths.

He finished a distant third in his next two starts, the San Felipe (G2) March 5 and Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 9.

"In the mornings, Happy Jack has shown us some pretty special stuff,” O’Neill said. “To win his debut the way he did, we know there is definitely talent there. I could see him jumping up and winning a big race like this.”

O’Neill said he will put the blinkers back on Happy Jack for the Preakness. He shed them for the Derby after the colt wore them in three of his first four starts. Happy Jack will also have a new rider for the Preakness in Tyler Gaffalione. Rafael Bejarano rode him in the Derby.

"It’s not a big thing,” O’Neill said. “Tyler will be at Pimlico and Rafael was not planning on riding there.”

Happy Jack will gallop daily at Churchill before shipping to Pimlico Tuesday morning. O’Neill said he expects to be on the grounds either Wednesday or Thursday.