Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming got a bit rambunctious while stepping onto the track at Pimlico for a gallop ahead of this weekend’s Preakness.
The dark bay colt tried to buck off exercise rider Nick Bush on Monday and stumbled a bit in doing so.
“He actually scared me a little bit, because he was feeling so good when he went out that in his first couple strides, he went to try to buck Nick off and kind of stumbled a little bit,” trainer Todd Pletcher told the Baltimore Sun. “But he got right back on his feet and after that, it was a very smooth, energetic and good gallop. Obviously, you don’t want any stumbles at this stage of the game. So it gave me a little bit of a fright.”
The trainer said Always Dreaming quickly recovered and turned in a smooth and energetic 1 1/2-mile gallop.
Pletcher told the Sun that Always Dreaming’s behavior wasn’t that out of the ordinary.
“That was every morning at Churchill,” Pletcher said. “It’s good that he’s feeling this good. We’re just trying to keep him healthy, and we don’t want him to make a mistake.”
The colt has been at Pimlico since three days after winning the May 6 Derby so he could settle in before things get busy.
Pletcher said Always Dreaming’s behavior might have been sparked by the arrival of several horses in the barn area as he went to the track.
“I think he picked up on that little bit of change in atmosphere and that’s why he came out a little more fired up than he has been the last few days,” Pletcher told the Sun.
The colt is scheduled to go to the track on Tuesday and then walk around the paddock.
He will be saddled indoors on Saturday, race day, while most of the other horses are saddled on the turf course.
Trainer Steve Asmussen’s duo of Hence and Lookin At Lee put in their final breezes Monday morning at Churchill Downs prior to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Hence, 11th in the Derby, breezed a half-mile in 0:51 before galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:05. Lookin At Lee, the Derby runner-up, worked a half-mile in 0:51.20 before galloping out in 1:04.80.
“They both had really easy works,” Asmussen said. “Both horses were traveling well and came out of the Derby in good shape.
“Hence didn’t really run his race in the Derby. Watching from the grandstand, he was jumping from the kickback of the sloppy racetrack. I expected him to come out of the race as though he didn’t exert himself and that’s exactly what he did. He’s a very impressive individual and still training very well.
“Lookin At Lee has always had a good rhythm to his training. This is a typical breeze for him. His personality and gamesmanship gave us a lot of confidence in him going into the Derby. We have no control of how the other horses run but we always feel like he does his best. It takes a horse like him to get the dream trip as he did in the Derby. Some of the spots that he went through aren’t for everybody and that’s what has us feeling so strongly about him going into the Preakness.”
6:45 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore (NBC-18)