D. Wayne Lukas didn’t waste much time after the Kentucky Derby deciding that Optimizer would run in the Preakness.
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”About 30 seconds,” the Hall of Fame trainer and five-time Preakness winner said. ”I like coming here, and I’ve got a good sound horse.”
Optimizer was 42-1 in the Derby, where he finished 11th. He drew post No. 10 for the Preakness on Saturday and is again an outsider at 30-1 on the morning line.
Only 1 for 10 in his career, Optimizer needs to improve to compete at this level. Lukas is banking on the Derby experience and a rider change from Jon Court to Corey Nakatani to close the gap.
”When you see a little brilliance in a horse, as a trainer, you are always trying to fine tune it and get it all together,” Lukas said. ”Sometimes it comes together, and sometimes it doesn’t. I know he’s got the ability to run with these horses. He’s got to put it together.”
Lukas holds the Preakness record with 36 starters.
R.W. Walden holds the Preakness training record, saddling seven winners from 1875-1888.
Out of action
Guyana Star Dweej was withdrawn from Preakness consideration Wednesday morning with a left front foot injury.
He was battling a quarter crack, an injury to the hoof wall.
”It was still not properly healed,” trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said from Belmont Park. ”. . . So we decided we’re going to have to skip this one.”
Only 1 for 9, Guyana Star Dweej would have been the longest shot in the Preakness. He has never run in a stakes and finished second most recently in an allowance race at Belmont.
Julien Leparoux will be back aboard Daddy Nose Best for the Preakness.
They have been an effective team, combining to win the El Camino Real Derby and the Sunland Park Derby. Leparoux was in the saddle for all four of the colt’s wins.
They split up for the Derby with Leparoux opting to ride Union Rags. It didn’t work well for either party.
After a terrible start, Union Rags rallied to get seventh. Daddy Nose Best ran 10th with Garrett Gomez aboard.
They are now reunited, thanks to a late decision to run in the race by owner Bob Zollars in consultation with trainer Steve Asmussen.
”We feel like he completely bounced back,” Zollars said. ”He’s very perky, so we think he’s ready to run again.”
Asmussen will be looking for his third Preakness win following Curlin (2007) and the filly Rachel Alexandra (2009).
Daddy Nose Best was 12-1 on the morning line from post No. 8.
Creative Cause, fifth in the Derby, completed a lengthy round trip when he flew into Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon.
He returned to California following the Derby and caught a 5 a.m. PT flight for the trip East.
”He’s a good traveler,” trainer Mike Harrington said.
Creative Cause will have to be. This is his third flight from the West Coast, having shipped to Churchill Downs to run third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November.
He was 6-1, a co-third choice with Went the Day Well, from post No. 6.