NEWS PREVIEW

Preakness Plan Right For Gunnevera - Lukas

On May 12 at Churchill Downs former trainer Larry Kelly, who is helping Sano oversee his Preakness Stakes contender Gunnevera, introduced the Venezuelan trainer to Lukas.
Lukas is a six-time winner of the Preakness Stakes and assured Sano he had made the right call to tackle next Saturday’s Preakness at Pimlico with Gunnevera instead of training the colt up to the Belmont Stakes on June 3.
Lukas assured them they were right in planning to start the colt in Baltimore following his seventh in the Kentucky Derby won by Always Dreaming on May 6.
"The misconception in the Preakness is that it's a speed track, that it's always a speed horse. I don't find that to be true in my experience," said Lukas.
"If he's sound and ready to go, I'd take him. When you throw in the mud, the surface, everything, you need to give him a second chance. I would."
Florida-based Sano made a brief visit back to Churchill Downs to check on Gunnevera’s work on Friday before the Fountain of Youth Stakes winner departed for Baltimore on Saturday.
With exercise rider Victor O'Farrell aboard, Gunnevera impressed when he jogged and galloped before picking up the pace to near-work speed for about a quarter-mile down the backstretch.
Classic Empire, fourth in the Kentucky Derby after a horrendous start and trip, resumed galloping Friday at Churchill after jogging the day prior. The reigning 2-year-old male champion was floated to Baltimore on Sunday.
"He felt great," said exercise rider Martin Rivera. "I loved the way he went this morning. He's come back more aggressive, actually."
Norman Casse, trainer Mark Casse's son and assistant, said he's not surprised how well Classic Empire bounced out of a challenging Kentucky Derby.
"He's a really tough horse," Casse said. "He really loves what he's doing right now.
“He's finally under a regular pattern where he's running and isn't missing any training.
“I think he's going to run a really good race in Baltimore.
“It's unfortunate we didn't win the Derby, but there are plenty of big races down the road that we'd really love to win, such as the Preakness and the Belmont.”
Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and his 11th-place stablemate Hence galloped Friday at Churchill, pleasing trainer Steve Asmussen's chief assistant Scott Blasi.
Blasi said Sunland Derby winner Hence has demonstrated a lot of energy since exiting his subpar Kentucky Derby performance.
"We just don't feel like he ever levelled out in the Derby, that he didn't put that much effort into it," Blasi said.
“Hopefully we catch a fast track and he should give a better account of himself. The talent is there."
Illinois Derby winner Multiplier had a routine gallop at Keeneland on Friday. He is slated to work Sunday and is scheduled to van to Baltimore on May 16.

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