Trainer Todd Pletcher's "other'' horse, Aikenite finished second to late Preakness scratch Hurricane Ike in the April 24 Derby Trial, a one-mile race at Churchill Downs that is "Derby Trial'' in name only. He's finished first just once in eight lifetime starts and that was in his maiden race, Aug. 9 at Saratoga,
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Fans of this three-year-old colt will harken back to his second-place finish in the March 13 Tamp Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race in which Schoolyard Dreams was just a nose behind winner Odysseus, but a half-length in front of eventual Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. His trainer is Derek Ryan, who saddled Musket Man to third-place finishes last year in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
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Owner Ken Ramsey really wanted to get this horse into the Kentucky Derby, but a third-place finish in the Derby Trial left him short in graded earnings money. Pleasant Prince was competitive with the best three-year-olds early in the prep season, finishing fourth behind the since-retired Eskenderaya in the Feb. 20 Fountain of Youth Stakes and second behind fast-closing Ice Box in the March 20 Florida Derby. However, he regressed to a terrible eighth on Keeneland's synthetic surface in the April 10 Blue Grass.
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Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas won the Preakness five times from 1980 (Codex) to 1999 (Charismatic), but hasn't won it since. Dublin (post position 12) seems more likely to end the slide this year than Northern Giant, who required six races over six months before breaking his maiden in February and was beaten by 14 lengths while finishing ninth in the Arkansas Derby.
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The most lightly raced entrant in the Preakness, with just four starts for trainer Rick Dutrow of Big Brown (2008) fame. But there's some intrigue: The colt has never finished worse than second and was runner-up in two Derby preps: The Gotham (behind Awesome Act) on March 6 and the Illinois Derby (behind front-running American Lion) on April 3. Jockey Prado cut his teeth in Maryland but has never won in 12 Preakness starts, including the ill-fated Barbaro breakdown in 2006.
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One of five (of 20) Kentucky Derby starters running back in the second leg of the Triple Crown. The Nick Zito-trained colt was a big buzz horse when he got into the Derby field at the 11th hour after others defected, but got a classic Derby rough trip and never got closer than eighth place. Supporters will still remember that he finished second in three Derby prep races (the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial) and hope the Derby pounding didn't take too much out of him.
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Lookin At Lucky
Nothin' Lucky about this horse: He had a rough trip while finishing fourth as the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby and then an even more rugged ride while getting sixth as the Kentucky Derby favorite from the dreaded No. 1 post position. "I lost the race on Wednesday," trainer Bob Baffert said, referring to the post position draw. Baffert dumped jockey Garrett Gomez for Martin Garcia, but the question is whether Lucky has become discouraged by repeatedly physical races.
8 of 12Bill Frakes/SI
One possibility: Trainer Todd Pletcher's colt was lucky to get the slop that he loves in the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs's very own Borel on his back, a perfect storm of good fortune that led to a Derby win. Another possibility: Super Saver, a fast and gifted colt, has learned to control his speed under Borel and will crush a modest Preakness field and head to the Belmont Stakes in pursuit of the Triple Crown. Anybody who says he knows the truth is lying, but it's distinctly possible that Super Saver will get an easy lead in a paceless Preakness.
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It's been nine years since a horse prepped largely in California (the imposing Point Given in 2001) won the Preakness. SoCal invaders were shut off the board in the Kentucky Derby. Caracortado, who was bred by trainer Mike Machowsky, won his first five lifetime starts before finishing third and fourth in two California preps and missing the Run for the Roses. Fun fact: Caracortado's grandsire is Maria's Mon, the sire of Derby winner Super Saver.
10 of 12Bill Frakes/SI
A Kentucky Derby buzz horse who lived up to the hype with a troubled third-place finish. Had Calvin Borel not slipped Super Saver through on rail, this Dale Romans-trained colt would have been in a thrilling stretch run with deep closer Ice Box (the Derby runner-up, who is now waiting for the Belmont Stakes) for the victory. The Preakness problem for Paddy is whether jockey Desormeaux (who was criticized for not riding Paddy O'Prado through the finish line in the Derby, possibly costing him second place and second-place money) will choose to challenge Super Saver on the front of the race and if he can hold up.
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Like Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans will saddle two starters in the Preakness, Paddy O'Prado and First Dude. This colt, like Aikenite, Northern Giant and Pleasant Prince, has won just one career race. That victory came while breaking his maiden in January at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He was soundly beaten in the Florida Derby and finished third with a bad trip in the Blue Grass Stakes.
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Veteran trainer D. Wayne Lukas likes to rave about Dublin's menacing physical stature (he weighs more than 1,300 pounds), but that size was of little help while finishing an unthreatening seventh at 20-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby. In an effort to improve his chances in the Preakness, Lukas jumped on respected jockey Garrett Gomez after Gomez was removed from Lookin At Lucky by Bob Baffert. "You don't keep Peyton Manning in the locker room," said Lukas.
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