Trainer Kenny McPeek, who saddled filly Swiss Skydiver for a gutsy victory over Kentucky Derby victor Authentic in the 2020 Preakness (G1) last October, is hoping to be back at Pimlico for this year’s Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with stretch-running King Fury. The Lexington Stakes (G3) winner was scratched Friday from the Kentucky Derby after spiking a temperature.
With the Churchill Downs track sloppy following an overnight rain, King Fury had a walk day Monday with his temperature back to normal. “So far so good,” said assistant trainer Greg Geier.
McPeek called the temperature spike ‘a one-off deal’ Sunday, reporting that the son of Curlin had responded quickly to treatment and had good energy on Derby Day.
“It will be one of those call-an-audible-at-the-line-of-scrimmage [things]. We’ll take it into Friday, and see what kind of week he has. If he has a good week, we’ll contemplate working him Saturday or Sunday,” McPeek said. “Everything will have to fall into line. He’ll have to show there are no ill after-effects on him. He’ll have to have good blood work and a good scope (endoscopic exam).”
After watching Medina Spirit’s front-running victory in the Derby, McPeek thinks that the race scenario may well have stacked the odds against King Fury, who closed from far back to win the Lexington going away.
“And I don’t know if that Derby would have set up for him, either. Might have been fortuitous. It didn’t look like anybody could really close any ground,” he said. “The way the racetrack played, they even went fast early and kept going.”
When it was suggested that McPeek didn’t see anything in the Derby to scare him away from the Preakness, he said with a laugh: “If I wasn’t scared last year, I wouldn’t be scared this year. If I’ve got a horse doing good, I’m going to go. If he’s doing really well, we’ll go. If he backs out of the tub or his bloodwork isn’t right, any notion that he isn’t at a full energy level, then we won’t go. If he is, we’ll go.”
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon, who rallied to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby following an awkward start took him out of his usual up-close style, is under Preakness consideration. The Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up had another scheduled walk day Monday at Churchill Downs and will walk again Tuesday before resuming training Wednesday, said trainer Steve Asmussen.
Asmussen won the 2007 Preakness with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and again in 2009 with Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
“We’re considering running in the Preakness, but we will obviously defer to his training,” the trainer said. “We’ll keep discussions open.”
Asmussen said jockey Mike Smith told him that Midnight Bourbon’s ‘hind end slipped out,’ and that’s that. It wasn’t where we were hoping to be. He ran reasonable after a poor beginning, covered plenty of ground and didn’t look like he was horribly overmatched – or overmatched at all.”
Trainer Brad Cox said Monday morning that Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun and fourth-place finisher Essential Quality continue to bounce out of the race well with a Preakness decision yet to be made for either horse.
Cox said he has to talk to owner John Ed Anthony about possibly running Caddo River in the Preakness. Anthony, who now races in the name of Shortleaf Stable, won the 1992 Preakness with Pine Bluff and in 1993 with Prairie Bayou while racing with ex-wife Mary Lynn Dudley under the Loblolly Stable banner.
Caddo River, who finished second in the Arkansas Derby, was knocked out of the Kentucky Derby after spiking a temperature.
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