Nehro points for Belmont, not Preakness
Owner Ahmed Zayat announced Tuesday that Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro will not run Saturday in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
"It's a very hard decision, but I want to err on the side of caution," Zayat told the Daily Racing Form. "He couldn't look any better. His work on Monday was absolutely awesome. I'm just concerned about him having four hard races in eight weeks, even if, outwardly, he doesn't appear to be showing it.
"We will point now for the Belmont [Stakes], God willing."
Nehro's second-place finish at Churchill Downs came on the heels of runner-up finishes in the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby.
Meantime, the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is hoping for a faster early pace in the Preakness to set up his colt's late run.
"I'm a little surprised people are saying he had a good pace scenario," said trainer Graham Motion. "I don't really understand."
Not since 1947, when Jet Pilot led all the way through a first half-mile in 49 seconds and six furlongs in 1:14 2/5, could you find slower fractions than those set this year by Shackleford at 48.63 and 1:13.40. That helps explain why he looked like a winner to mid-stretch, until Animal Kingdom swallowed him up.
Although the tepid pace did not shackle Animal Kingdom, it did not help the other closers in the Derby, especially the favorite, Dialed In, who charged from last of 19 to finish eighth, blazing his final half in 47.02.
"You just can't win in those situations, but he came with his run," said Dialed In's trainer, Nick Zito. "It was probably the best eighth-place finish in Kentucky Derby history."
Dialed In stands to win a $5.5 million bonus if he adds the Preakness to his victories in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. Zito can take heart from the likelihood that the pace Saturday at Pimlico figures to be much quicker than it was at Churchill Downs.
This time Shackleford will have to contend with two very fast horses in Flashpoint and Dance City, whose jockeys, Cornelio Velasquez and Ramon Dominguez, figure to ride aggressively from the gate.
According to the Daily Racing Form, 15 horses are expected to be entered Wednesday for the 136th Preakness, which is run at 1-3/16 miles. The maximum field for the Preakness is 14.