Thursday was a busy day in Baltimore for Niall and Stephanie Brennan, with horses to put through their final serious rehearsal before they exit their program at one racetrack and a star graduate to see on another.
Black Eyed Susan Day. Orb is perfect. Pink is the color of the day. Joe, Tom and Sean are at Pimlico. Tom, writing and taking photos. Joe, glasses perched atop his nose, pecking away at a feature for Jenn Patterson while his son revels in the infield. Sean, well, typing away at our picks for the day. As we say, we are not handicappers, but like to wade in at times.
Ralph Nicks might be up against it against his former boss in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, but the easy going trainer didn’t seem overly concerned as he went through his paces Thursday morning outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course.
The morning two days before the Preakness Stakes is always a little more lively and laid back than just about any other during the American racing year, with each of the entrants and just about all their connections on hand along with the annual Alibi Breakfast, and Thursday didn’t disappoint. Here’s a little of what TIHR soaked in.
Robbie Walsh sat atop his horse midway through the Iroquois Steeplechase and said, almost out loud: “I don’t know how well you’re going, but I’m afraid to move.”
Standing on the stage inside the tent with the giant Finlandia Vodka of Finland banner lapped on the roof, swarmed by a mob of reporters and photographers just minutes after a collective groan vibrated through the space occupied plenty of people and the smell of crab cakes and fresh oysters, Shug McGaughey pinpointed his only major concern.
On a quiet Tuesday morning at Pimlico, trainer Shug McGaughey looked at Orb, talked about Orb, thought about Orb and kept coming around to the same thing.
Only on the TIHR Tour . . . we stopped at Nashville for a weekend of jump racing between the Derby and the Preakness. It took 3 miles to separate Demonstrative and Divine Fortune and Derby starter Mr. Hot Stuff continued his second chapter. Now, it's on to Pimlico where Orb continues his orbit.
Some horses truly don’t handle a wet surface and poor track conditions offer a handy excuse for any Kentucky Derby starter that does not run well. Six Derby starters are set to go to the gate in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. Some finished well up the track in Louisville.