Source: USA TODAY
LOUISVILLE — Mylute, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, was declared definite for the 139th Preakness Stakes after training Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
That leaves a week for trainer Tom Amoss and jockey Rosie Napravnik to try to figure out how to defeat Derby hero Orb.
“I’ve got to find four lengths from the Kentucky Derby,” Amoss said shortly after Mylute galloped in the predawn. “I don’t know how you beat Orb. He’s the best 3-year-old. If he runs his last race, he’ll be difficult to beat.”
Amoss said owners Mandy Pope and Paul Bulmahn wanted a week to evaluate how Mylute came out of the Derby. He said the decision was made after they discussed how the Midnight Lute colt looked, was training and eating. Mylute, who finished a neck out of third in the Kentucky Derby after losing the Louisiana Derby by a neck, is scheduled to fly to Baltimore Wednesday for Saturday’s $1 million race.
“I thought in the Derby Mylute made what has become his signature, kind of eye-catching middle move, but certainly at the end was a little bit even in his finish,” Amoss said. “That’s got to change for us to have a shot to win this race – not to mention that Orb is the man. I’m hoping we move forward in the Preakness, and Orb takes a little step backward.
“As it stands now, the closest finisher to Orb in the Kentucky Derby who is going to run in the Preakness is Mylute…. Four lengths separated them. It’s going to be a smaller field. We’re going to probably use the same methods we used in the Derby, and because of the smaller field maybe we can save some ground. And we’ll see what happens. It’s a sixteenth of a mile less to run, and I think that makes a difference.”
The light-framed Normandy Invasion, who finished a head in front of Mylute in fourth in the Derby, is possible but hardly definite for the Derby.
Amoss called the Derby his best fifth-place finish ever, adding with a laugh, “and the best fourth-place finish I had was in the Preakness way back with Hot Wells.”
That was Amoss’ first Triple Crown appearance. He’d claimed Hot Wells out of a $12,500 maiden race, with the gelding going on to win Oaklawn’s Southwest and finish fourth in the Arkansas Derby. He was fourth in the 1998 Preakness won by Derby victor Real Quiet.
Mylute will be Napravnik’s first mount in the middle leg of the Triple Crown. She said a triumph there would be “probably about even” to winning the Derby. That’s because the jockey started her career at Pimlico on June 9, 2005 as a 17-year-old, winning on her first mount ever, the Dickie Small-trained Ringofdiamonds.
Shortly after getting the official word about My Lute, Napravnik tweeted: “Get your PREAK ON baby I’m coming home I promise you there is no other jockey who wants to win the #Preakness more than me! MYLUTE”
Soon thereafter she tweeted in reference to Orb’s jockey, Joel Rosario: “Ok maybe Rosario… But I bet it’s just been added to his list recently haha”
Napravnik was Maryland’s winningest jockey in 2006 and 2008 before moving to more prominent circuits. She is only the third female jockey to ride in the Preakness, following Patti Cooksey (sixth on Tajawa in 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (seventh on Looming in 1994).
“I started out there; it’s where all my supporters from the very beginning are,” Napravnik said between races at Churchill, where she is riding full-time for the first time. “I’ve got a lot of family and friends there. It would just mean a lot to me personally.”
Napravnik says she’ll be riding an improving horse in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.
“He ran great,” she said. “The thing you can say is that he was very, very wide. But a lot of times that’s the winning trip. Obviously it was for Orb, and we followed him around there the whole way.
“He’s just really maturing and going in the right direction. I think he’s going to really move forward off that race. I think it was a key race for him.”
Horse Trainer Jockey Last race
Orb; McGaughey/Rosario; 1st Kentucky Derby
Normandy Invasion; Brown/Castellano; 4th Kentucky Derby
Mylute; Amoss/Rosario; 5th Kentucky Derby
Oxbow; Lukas/Stevens; 6th Kentucky Derby
Will Take Charge; Lukas/Smith; 8th Kentucky Derby
Itsmyluckyday; Plesa/Velazquez; 15th Kentucky Derby
Goldencents; O’Neill/Krigger; 17th Kentucky Derby
Vyjack; Rodriguez/Gomez; 18th Kentucky Derby
Departing; Stall/Hernandez; 1st Illinois Derby
Govenor Charlie; Baffert/M. Garcia; 1st Sunland Derby
Titletown Five; Lukas/Leparoux; 4th Derby Trial
Rees writes for the Louisville Courier-Journal