Preakness Stakes: Stradivari, Collected, Uncle Lino put in final drills

p>At Belmont Park, the lightly raced Stradivari drilled five furlongs in 59.51 seconds as his connections tighten the screws on an extremely talented colt.

At Churchill Downs, Lexington Stakes winner Collected worked seven furlongs in 1:24.80.

At Santa Anita, Uncle Lino the winner of the California Chrome Stakes, went five furlongs in 1:00.80.

Stradivari, Collected, and Uncle Lino are among eight horses who didn’t compete in the Kentucky Derby but are expected to face the undefeated Nyquist in the Preakness. Of those who lost to Nyquist in the Derby, only Exaggerator (second) and Lani (ninth) are confirmed to face him again. Gun Runner (third) is still being considered.

With just three races under Stradivari’s belt and eight days out from his stakes debut, trainer Todd Pletcher was looking for a good, solid workout from the colt Friday. The work was moved up a day to avoid a potential wet track Saturday.

Stradivari, with John Velazquez up, started about two lengths behind Stanford, the recent winner of the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. Stradivari followed Stanford through an opening eighth in 13.47 seconds and a quarter in 25.39. Stradivari went a very fast third eighth and hit the quarter pole after three furlongs in 36.60 seconds.

Stradivari was basically on even terms with Stanford turning for home, and the two came home in a sharp 22.91 seconds. They galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.47 and seven furlongs in 1:26.04.

“I wanted to make sure eight days out that we got a good, solid work, and working him in company with Stanford assured that, and with Stanford leading him off, it gave him a little more experience sitting behind horses,” Pletcher said. “We did something similar in his last breeze at Churchill as well. I liked that the two finished together, galloped out together, and that Stradivari looked to be the stronger of the two.”

Both Pletcher and Velazquez – neither of whom has won a Preakness – acknowledge that Stradivari lacks seasoning and racing experience, but Velazquez noted, “He’s extremely talented.”

Stradivari, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, has won two of three starts, his victories coming by a combined 25 3/4 lengths.

Stanford is a candidate for either Friday’s Pimlico Special or the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on June 11.

At Churchill Downs, Collected went a swift seven furlongs early Friday in his third and perhaps strongest workout since the City Zip colt won the April 16 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

Churchill clocker John Nichols caught Collected and jockey Miguel Mena breaking off at the five-furlong pole, proceeding in splits of 23.80, 35.80, 47.80, and 1:00, then out past the wire in 1:12.60 and 1:24.80, with a one-mile “out” time of 1:38.60. The track was rated “good” following steady rain Thursday.

Since dominating the Lexington by four lengths as the 2-1 second choice, Collected now has had three breezes at Churchill, having gone a half-mile April 29 and seven furlongs May 5. The colt will be flown to Pimlico on Tuesday.

At Santa Anita, Uncle Lino finished his serious training for the Preakness with a five-furlong drill in 1:00.80 under regular rider Fernando Perez, who has the mount in the Preakness.

Gary Sherlock, who trains Uncle Lino, said he believes the colt has matured quite a bit in recent starts. Uncle Lino comes off a victory in the California Chrome at Los Alamitos, and prior to that, he was third in the Santa Anita Derby behind the victorious Exaggerator.

“He’s doing great,” Sherlock said Friday. “He’s really stepped forward. Mentally, he’s really matured. He’s more relaxed. He walks back after his work. He used to be, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ It took that last race to get him to drop his head.”

Sherlock said Uncle Lino would fly from California to Maryland on Tuesday. Uncle Lino, like Nyquist, is a son of Uncle Mo.

At Pimlico, Nyquist jogged a mile and galloped 1 1/4 miles on Friday, his third straight day on the track since arriving from Churchill Downs but the first time he had galloped since his Derby victory six days prior. Doug O’Neill, who trains Nyquist, said the horse would alternate jog days with gallop days up to the Preakness.

O’Neill, reached by phone at Pimlico, expressed complete satisfaction with how Nyquist has done since the Derby.

“If the big horse is good, we’re good, and the big horse is good,” O’Neill said.

Nyquist is named for Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. O’Neill spent his early years in Detroit before moving to Southern California and is a passionate fan of the Detroit Tigers baseball team. O’Neill and his crew looking after Nyquist were planning on attending Friday night’s game between the Tigers and Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

Tom Franklin is a senior contributor at US Racing.
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