Royal Mo out of Preakness Following Career-Ending Injury

Royal Mo Suffers Fracture During Workout

Royal Mo, one of the contenders for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, suffered a career-ending sesamoid fracture to his right front ankle during his final work at Pimlico Race Course Sunday.

Trainer John Shirreffs said Royal Mo was transported to New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, the facility best known for treating 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro after he fractured a hind leg in the 2006 Preakness.

“The one positive side is there wasn’t any other damage to that leg, he doesn’t have a condylar or any other ligaments that were injured, just the right sesamoid,” said Shirreffs.

Shirreffs said the injury is still “devastating”, and the Maryland Veterinary Group’s Dr. Dan Dreyfuss, who attended to Royal Mo at Pimlico, added Royal Mo “is done as a racehorse. If there are no complications, from a life standpoint he should be okay”.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens had flown in to Baltimore for Royal Mo’s workout, and said he was “relishing the track” as he raced five furlongs in company. But near the quarter pole on sloppy, off track, Stevens heard a loud “pop”. Stevens immediately hopped off Royal Mo and helped support the injured leg until first Shirreffs and then Dreyfuss arrived.

“Gary Stevens was holding up the leg and Mr. Shirreffs was there helping as well. The leg did not spend much time on the ground after they got him pulled up, which is really important,” Dreyfuss said.

Royal Mo had ankle wraps on his ankles and that those bandages helped prevent further damage. Dreyfuss tranquilized Royal Mo and then affixed a Kimzey splint to the injured limb to provide support.

Royal Mo is a big, beautiful son of Uncle Mo, who sired 2016 Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist. Royal Mo won two races in six starts including the Grade III Robert B. Lewis. He was on the also eligible-list for the Kentucky Derby, but did not draw into the race. Royal Mo’s final race was a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby.

The injury to Royal Mo means there are 10 horses committed to racing in the Preakness, and entries are due Wednesday morning with post-position draw Wednesday night.

Always Dreaming Confirmed for Preakness Stakes

After winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby (G1), Always Dreaming will now begin preparations for the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 20 in his quest of competing for the Triple Crown.

The invitation for Always Dreaming to compete in the Preakness Stakes was officially sent to Always Dreaming’s trainer Todd Pletcher by Maryland Jockey Club President/General Manager Sal Sinatra on the morning of Saturday, May 7.

“I congratulated him on winning the race and extended him the traditional invitation to the Preakness, which he accepted,” said Sinatra. “We are thrilled to have the Derby winner and he is excited about coming. He’s going into the Preakness barn and putting Always Dreaming in stall 40, which is historically reserved for the Derby winner. He said he wanted to keep the mojo going.”

Always Dreaming, who is owned by a tandem of St. Elias Stables, MeB Racing Stables, Siena Farm, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Brooklyn Boyz Stables, will arrive at Pimlico Race Course on May 9. He will be joined by fellow Preakness contender Royal Mo.

Other notable horses who might compete in the Preakness Stakes includes Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and Classic Empire, if he is fully healed from a right eye issue. Girvin’s connections said they’ll consider the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (G1), while Gunnevera trainer Antonio Sano said a decision to run won’t be made until it’s discussed with majority owner Solomon Del-Valle.

One horse that likely won’t make the trip to Pimlico is Irish War Cry.

“I don’t see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point,” said Irish War Cry trainer Graham Motion. “He’s had a pretty good campaign this spring, so it’s likely we’ll skip that and make a plan to point for the Haskell (Invitational Stakes, G1).”

Preakness Stakes Racing Stats and Facts

Preakness Stats and Interesting Facts

The 142nd Preakness Stakes is just over a week away and will be run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, May 20. Pimlico Race Course is the second-oldest racetrack in the country and opened on Oct. 25, 1870.

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will get much of the attention in pursuit of the Triple Crown, but there are four other Derby runners taking a shot at him and seven additional ‘new shooters’ that will be fresher for the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby entrants in the Preakness Stakes

Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, Gunnevera, Hence, Lookin At Lee

New Shooters in the Preakness Stakes

Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money, Lancaster Bomber, Multiplier, Royal Mo, Senior Investment, Term of Art

Pimlico Racetrack

Here are some additional interesting facts about the Preakness Stakes as you handicap and review information for the upcoming race and second jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Preakness Stakes has not always been run at Pimlico Race Course. Over 100 years ago it was run in New York, the Bronx and also on Coney Island, NY. The Preakness was also run before the Kentucky Derby 11 times, and the current spacing of the Triple Crown races with the Preakness 2 weeks after the Kentucky Derby has been in place since 1969.

  • In the last 27 years, the Preakness was won by a horse that ran in the Kentucky Derby 24 times. Just three winners did not run in the Derby.
  • The Preakness post-time favorite has won the race 72 times in 141 runnings.
  • When looking for a big long shot in the Preakness, know this: No horse sent off at odds greater than 23-1 has ever won the Preakness Stakes. Master Derby won the Preakness at 23-1 in 1975.
  • Legendary racehorse Secretariat holds the record for running the fastest time at the Preakness Stakes, at 1:53. Secretariat, however, wasn’t officially named the record-holder until 2012 when the Maryland Racing Commission reviewed a videotape of the race and decided Secretariat’s original winning time of 1:55 was incorrect.
  • The Black-Eyed Susan Blanket, awarded to the winner of the Preakness, was first presented in 1940. The blanket measures 18 inches wide and 90 inches in length.

Now it’s up to you to figure out who will wear it as the winner of the 142nd Preakness Stakes!



2017 Preakness Conquest Mo Money

Conquest Mo Money To Enter Preakness

Two new shooters have already emerged for the 2017 Preakness Stakes. Conquest Mo Money will join the fray along with Doug O’Neill’s Term of Art. The former is a legitimate contender for the title while there is more uncertainty about the latter. Fresh legs have a habit of spoiling Triple Crown bids, so this is pretty big news.

Conquest Mo Money was a bit of a curious scratch from the Kentucky Derby. The often run colt competed in four stakes races this year, finishing with a 2-2-0 record overall and generating $508,900 in earnings for the Judge Lanier Racing group that owns him. This son of Unlce Mo finished second at the Sunland Derby before heading to the Arkansas Derby where he also finished as a runner-up. The absolutely brutal homestretch, where he fended off Malagacy but wasn’t able to edge Classic Empire, was telling of how competitive Conquest Mo Money actually is.

Tom and Sandy McKenna are the leading owners in New Mexico, and have ponied up the $150,000 late entry fee for new shooters to get Conquest Mo Money in the running. Obviously, the couple is excited to be making a splash in American Classics.

“It’s a dream come true. I never thought I would be here,” Tom McKenna beamed. “Everybody dreams about it that gets in the horse business, whether you have one horse, two horses, or three horses.”

Term of Art will also enter the Preakness as a new shooter but isn’t much of a threat overall. He last ran 7th in the Santa Anita Derby just after a third place finish in the San Felipe. Even still, Term of Art is a son of Tiznow with considerable pedigree and O’Neill thinks the effort is definitely worth the gamble. “We think he’s a talented colt who deserves a chance in this big race,” O’Neill admitted. “We think he has classic-type ability and we’re going to roll the dice.”

Conquest Mo Money has a much better chance of impacting the results of the 2017 Preakness, which will run on Saturday, May 20th. His convincing showing in the Arkansas Derby is proof that he has the stones to go hoof-to-hoof with a champion. Trainer Miguel Hernandez will have his work cut out for himself to prepare this contender over the next ten days.


2017 Triple Crown Always Dreaming

Can Always Dreaming Win 2017 Triple Crown?

The lead-up to the 2017 Triple Crown was marred in mystery. No horse had a definitive edge over the other. Classic Empire held fast as the 4/1 favorite but had a rocky road along the derby trail. McCraken, Irish War Cry and many others rose to the challenge during the prep race season but never cemented themselves as a rock solid option. The only horse that seemed to be trending along the right path was Always Dreaming.

So when the 5/1 second choice in the derby was doing all the right things in the final week of prep prior to the first leg of the 2017 Triple Crown, I lobbied to back him. The bet paid off. Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby handedly and has now collected four straight victories by a combined winning margin of 23 1/2 lengths.

Always Dreaming’s only other stakes victory in his career was in the Florida Derby, a race he won easily while being hand ridden by John Velazquez. As my colleagues have written, Always Dreaming is already at Pimlico Racecourse and seems to be settling in quite nicely. “The race, I think, took nothing out of him. We’re happy. He bounced back almost immediately,” said Gina DePasquale, an assistant trainer to Todd Pletcher who has been part of his stable for over two decades.

People close to horse racing know that maintaining health is the most important element to winning all three legs, and the 2017 Triple Crown will be no different. California Chrome sort-of broke down by the time he arrived at the Belmont in 2014. Nyquist and Exaggerator just weren’t good enough amidst a competitive field. Others like I’ll Have Another and Big Brown have simply not been able to survive the gruelling challenge that the Triple Crown represents. Simply put, it’s not easy, which is one of the many reasons the trilogy is so special.

Two years ago, American Pharoah dazzled audiences around the world by stomping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont fields. It was a milestone accomplishment both for the horse, his connections and the sport itself since Affirmed was the last horse to win a Triple Crown in 1978. There was growing concern that the biggest achievement possible in this sport was now unattainable given how good breeding, training and preparation was getting across the board.

That brings us to the strength of the field in this year’s 2017 Triple Crown. It’s apparent that Always Dreaming is on another level. The fact that he enters the Preakness with so much positive energy flowing around him buoys the fact that he doesn’t have that many contenders to deal with outside of himself. As long as he shows up with his best effort, he should have no problem dispatching of his rivals. And that’s fine – nobody ever remembers who strong a field is for a Triple Crown.

That could be a bigger story given how weak the 2017 Triple Crown field feels, but the fact that we could be staring at yet another historic champion is an absolutely exciting development. It’s a story that we were frankly unsure of just a few days ago. A strong run in the Preakness could set up big numbers for the Belmont, which would ultimately lead to promising outputs for thoroughbred racing, its broadcasting partners and sportsbooks around the world.

Always Dreaming, you have our attention.

Always Dreaming Arrives at Pimlico for Preakness

Preakness Stakes Preparations begin for Derby Winner Always Dreaming

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming came out of the race well, and trainer Todd Pletcher is shipping him to Pimlico this morning in pursuit of Preakness victory for the second jewel of the Triple Crown. A group of what is locally known as “new shooters” will take their run at the Derby champ, along with some familiar foes from the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey John Velazquez, atop Always Dreaming #5, celebrates with trainer Todd Pletcher after winning the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

The early shipping is to provide a peaceful environment for the colt who proved a headstrong handful while training at Churchill Downs. The trainer has decided to give the champion almost two weeks to adjust to Pimlico. Pletcher said Always Dreaming will gallop daily at Pimlico rather than a harder, timed workout.

“Looking at what the options are, at Pimlico, there’s generally not a lot of horses training there,” Pletcher said Sunday following his Derby dream with Always Dreaming. “I think it will be a quiet environment, give us time to get him settled in and if we have to make any adjustments we’ll have time to do that.”

Always Dreaming ran through a wet and soggy track to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4 lengths on Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together. Pletcher was excited and impressed with Always Dreaming’s Run for the Roses, and also impressed with how his Bodemeister colt came out of the race.

“So far I’ve been amazed at how well he came out of the race,” said Pletcher at Churchill Downs Monday morning before taking a scheduled flight to New York later in the day. “His energy level is great. He walked the shedrow with a purpose this morning, ate all his dinner last night. Really, really pleased with the way he’s come out of it so far.”

Pimlico officials said as many as three other Derby competitors are potentially in for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown — runner-up Lookin At Lee; Classic Empire, who finished fourth; and Gunnevera, who was seventh.

Plenty of “new shooters” will fire in the Preakness at Pimlico.  Among them: Royal Mo, who just missed drawing into the Derby field; Conquest Mo Money, second in the Arkansas Derby, Lexington Stakes winner Senior Investment; Illinois Derby winner Multiplier and Wood Memorial third Cloud Computing.

Irish trainer Aidan O”Brien has nominated two horses to the Preakness including Lancaster Bomber. That horse was second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, fourth in the UAE Derby on the Meydan dirt and a good fourth, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by some excellent Irish, English and French 3-year-olds in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.


Always Dreaming Connections had a Kentucky Derby Plan and it Paid Off

Always Dreaming’s connections had a plan when it came to how to prepare for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and it all went down according to plan when he won the 143rd running of the roses. According to trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo, they wanted Always Dreaming to peak in the Derby.

With only two races during his age-two campaign, everything had to go right leading up to the 2017 Derby, but most importantly, Always Dreaming had to execute. That’s easier said and done though, but Always Dreaming was up to the task.

First up was a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs, and luckily John Velazquez, who rode Always Dreaming to Kentucky Derby glory, was in the area.

“We wanted him to go two turns, and he was ready to run,” said Pletcher. “On that particular day, Gulfstream had a seven-furlong race and a mile-and-an-eighth race. I didn’t want to run him a mile-an-eighth since he hadn’t run since August, and I didn’t really want to run him seven furlongs. Fortunately, Johnny had gone to OBS to ride for us and it worked out that he could be there the next day at Tampa. I said, ‘Hey, I think you’ll want to ride this horse.’ Everything just kind of fell into place.

“It was part of the plan that we had talked about, bringing him along instead of peaking too soon.”

Always Dreaming dominated the Tampa Bay assignment, winning by 11 and half lengths. Instead of racing in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) next, Always Dreaming’s connections decided an allowance race at Gulfstream to prepare for the Florida Derby (G1) would be better. They were right and Always Dreaming won that race by four lengths. Then the biggest test came next: the Florida Derby.

“The one thing that we wanted to do was have the horse peak [in the Kentucky Derby], not in the Florida Derby or not in the Fountain of Youth,” said Pletcher. “There was some risk with that plan. Because by not going in the Fountain of Youth, he had no [Derby qualifying] points at that stage of his career.

“But we felt like we were all comfortable taking our best shot at the Florida Derby as his only point‑eligible prep. And we all were comfortable with the fact that if something happened and he didn’t earn enough points, that we were willing to live with that decision.”

Always Dreaming would win the Florida Derby by five lengths and all that planning culminated in his eventual Kentucky Derby win.

Final Pre-Kentucky Derby Work for Irish War Cry

The 143rd annual Kentucky Derby (G1) is set for this weekend on May 6. All of the top contenders are putting in their final training sessions in preparation for this year’s Run for the Roses. One such contender is Irish War Cry. He final pre-Derby work took place at Fair Hill Training Centre on April 30, where he ran six furlongs in a time of 1:13 1/5 under the watchful eye of trainer Graham Motion.

The Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) winner ran under jockey Rajiv Maragh and in the company of Providence Road.

“I wanted him to have a decent work but not overdo it, and I think that’s exactly what he did,” said Motion. “Rajiv was anxious to see how he’d settle behind another horse, I thought it would be good for him to feel that himself, and he was happy with the way he did it. To be really corny, we ‘ticked all the boxes,’ pretty much.”

Maragh’s first time riding Irish War Cry was at the Wood Memorial and he was pleased with their final pre-Derby workout.

“I’ve never been on him directly behind another horse, so I just wanted to see if that was an option, how he would react,” said Maragh. “He was perfect, he did everything I was hoping he would. He didn’t react in any negative way at all.

“His workout was fantastic, he was in such a great flow and he did it well within himself. This horse is just such a fabulous horse to ride because he does anything you ask of him.”

Irish War Cry finished with the fifth-most Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points (110).

Kentucky Derby One to Watch for Potential Preakness Winner

Favorites get Headlines, but Derby Winner Won’t be Best Bet in Preakness

The Kentucky Derby field is set and the post-position draw and morning line odds has Derby fans dreaming for their winner. Always Dreaming is getting plenty of play as the co-second choice at 5-1 with McCraken, while Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champioin and Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire (4-1) is the favorite to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Classic Empire will break from post No. 14. He’s a 3-time Grade I winner. Jockey Julien Leparoux is a 9-time Derby loser trying for his first Kentucky Derby win.

Always Dreaming drew post No. 5 for the Derby. He won the Florida Derby by 5 lengths with a fantastic finish and the fastest Florida Derby time since Alydar in 1978. Not bad for his first stakes start. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is 1-for-18 in the Kentucky Derby, riding Animal Kingdom to victory in 2011.

McCraken will be in post No. 15 alongside Classic Empire. McCraken is 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs track, but lost his recent start finishing 3rd in the Blue Grass Stakes. McCraken will try to become the first Blue Grass runner since 2007 to win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Brian Hernandez will try to win his first Kentucky Derby in his second start.     

The other single-digit favorite in the Derby is Irish War Cry (6-1) breaking from post No. 17, where no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Rajiv Maragh will try to also snap that streak with his 1st Derby win in his fifth start.

Wednesday was the Derby Draw and a day of laying odds. But regardless of who wins the Derby, the next Triple Crown race in the Preakness Stakes will provide another test for Derby runners trying to circle back just two weeks later at Pimlico. A number of fresh new runners will take their shot against the Derby winner and likely four or five other Derby runners. And the odds of the Derby winner will be even lower at the Preakness, making them a tougher choice to support even if they come out of the Derby in good shape.

Last year Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby as the 5-2 favorite for his 8th straight victory. Second choice Exaggerator finished in 2nd place. When the two rivals went to the Preakness, Exaggerator turned the tables to win the Preakness while Nyquist finished 3rd as the over bet 3-5 favorite. Nyquist would never win another race and retire following his 11th career start. Newcomers Cherry Wine (17-1) finished 2nd while lightly-raced speedster Stradivari (8-1) finished 4th in his stakes debut at the 2016 Preakness.

So watch the Kentucky Derby with interest and find a favorite or two and a few long shots to include in your exotic wagers. Then plan your Preakness strategy and uncover some under-the-radar horses and value to profit in the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby field with post position, odds, jockey, trainer and most recent race finish.

Post Horse Odds Jockey Trainer Last Race
1 Lookin at Lee 20-1 Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 3rd Arkansas Derby
2 Thunder Snow 20-1 Chris Soumillon Saeed bin Suroor 1st UA Derby
3 Fast and Accurate 50-1 Channing Hill Mike Maker 1st Spiral Stakes
4 Untrapped 30-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 6th Arkansas Derby
5 Always Dreaming 5–1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 1st Florida Derby
6 State of Honor 30–1 Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 2nd Florida Derby
7 Girvin 15-1 Mike Smith Joe Sharp 1st Louisiana Derby
8 Hence 15-1 Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 1st Sunland Derby
9 Irap 20-1 Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neil 1st Blue Grass Stakes
10 Gunnevera 15-1 Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 3rd Florida Derby
11 Battle of Midway 30-1 Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 2nd Santa Anita Derby
12 Sonneteer 50-1 Kent Desormeaus Keith Desormeaux 4th Arkansas Derby
13 J Boys Echo 20-1 Luis Saez Dale Romans 4th Blue Grass Stakes
14 Classic Empire 4–1 Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 1st Arkansas Derby
15 McCraken 5–1 Brian Hernandez, Jr Ian Wilkes 3rd Blue Grass Stakes
16 Tapwrit 20-1 Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 5th Blue Grass Stakes
17 Irish War Cry 6–1 Fajiv Maragh Graham Motion 1st Wood Memorial
18 Gormely 15-1 Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 1st Santa Anita Derby
19 Practical Joke 20-1 Joel Rosario Chad Brown 2nd Blue Grass Stakes
20 Patch 30-1 Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 2nd Louisiana Derby
2017 kentucky derby odds

2017 Kentucky Derby Odds Announced

An interesting thing happened this time last year at Churchill Downs. The race went chalk. The top four finishers were the first four choices on the betting board. With the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds being released this morning, are we in for the same fate on Saturday?

I’m not quite so sure. The oddsmakers have inserted four horses as clear cut favorites with the top option being Classic Empire, who has earned a 4/1 mark since winning the Arkansas Derby. The long time preference of horse players in the futures market is also the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, so he’s a familiar face with a lot of experience under his saddle.

The main threats according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds are McCraken and Always Dreaming who share 5/1 odds. Essentially the difference boils down to what we know about each horse. McCraken has appeared vindictive since his first loss in the Blue Grass, where he finished third, and that’s the response you want from a competitor.

Always Dreaming is a different story. The colt simply seems to have mercurial talent. He won the Florida Derby without needing any urging from his jockey. The problem is that this was his only stakes race. That he wont he race so convincingly is awesome, but the fact that he’s never been challenged is a bit concerning. The benefit with Always Dreaming is that he seems destined for the longer distances.

Irish War Cry is the last of the favorites according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds, and he is coming off a strong performance in the Wood Memorial. There are doubts about whether he has the legs to go the 1 1/8th miles.

The full list of entrants are below and you’ll notice that the longshots start at a distant 15/1. There’s no middle ground. That’s very telling of the talent in this race. As a note, Royal Mo and Master Plan are alternates for this race but are being given 2017 Kentucky Derby odds regardless.


2017 Kentucky Derby – Saturday, May 6th at 6:46pm EST
1 1/8th Miles – 3 Year Olds – $2,000,000

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Lookin At Lee Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 20-1
2 Thunder Snow Christophe Soumillion Saeed bin Suroor 20-1
3 Fast and Accurate Channing Hill Mike Maker 50-1
4 Untrapped Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 30-1
5 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 5-1
6 State of Honor Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 30-1
7 Girvin Mike Smith Joe Sharp 15-1
8 Hence Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 15-1
9 Irap Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 20-1
10 Gunnevera Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 15-1
11 Battle of Midway Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 30-1
12 Sonneteer Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 50-1
13 J Boys Echo Luis Saez Dale Romans 20-1
14 Classic Empire Julian Leparoux Mark Casse 4-1
15 McCraken Brian Hernandez Jr. Ian Wilkes 5-1
16 Tapwrit Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 20-1
17 Irish War Cry Rajiv Maragh Graham Motion 6-1
18 Gormley Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 15-1
19 Practical Joke Joel Rosario Chad Brown 20-1
20 Patch Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 30-1
AE Royal Mo Gary Stevens John Shirreffs 20-1
AE Master Plan John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 50-1