Undefeated Preamble Takes Step Up in Chick Lang

Undefeated Preamble Takes Step Up in Chick Lang

Top Line Growth Making Stakes Debut in $100,000 Sir Barton

BALTIMORE – WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing’s Preamble, undefeated in three career starts, will face stakes company for the first time including fellow unbeaten Pyron in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.

The 44th running of the six-furlong Chick Lang and the 22nd renewal of the $100,000 Earle I. Mack Foundation Sir Barton to benefit the TAA and Man o’ War Project at 1 1/16 miles, both for 3-year-olds, are among nine stakes, five graded, worth $2.8 million on a 14-race program highlighted by the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Post time is 10:30 a.m.

Preamble, a chestnut son of champion sprinter Speightstown, won his only start this year by 2 ¾ lengths in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance April 6 at Keeneland. He captured each of his starts at 2, both at six furlongs, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs in September.

“He’s three-for-three. He’s a pretty fast horse,” trainer Rodolphe Brisset said. “Hopefully, we keep him undefeated. Of course, it’s going to be his first stakes test.”

WinStar Farm and China Horse Club were part of the ownership group that campaigned Justify, the 2018 Triple Crown champion they retired with a perfect 6-0 record who now stands at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. for $150,000 live foal.

Without Triple Crown race aspirations for Preamble, the connections decided to give the grandson of 1993 2-year-old male champion Dehere plenty of time following his second-level optional claiming allowance triumph last October, his first try against winners.

“We are pretty excited about him. He was two-for-two last year for us and, talking with the ownership, we all agreed he wasn’t a two-turn horse so there was no point to try and think about the [Kentucky] Derby. After he won at Keeneland we kind of wrapped him up for the winter,” Brisset said.

“The horse came back to Payson with us in the beginning of the year,” he added. “Seven furlongs may have been his maximum distance. I don’t think he wants to run farther than that. It was a tough spot to come back, even if on paper it looked like he won pretty easy. He’s been training well since.”

Brisset decided to bypass the Gold Fever Stakes May 12 at Belmont Park and point for the Chick Lang, promoted to graded status for 2019. It was run as the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes from 1975-2009 and renamed following the death of racing industry legend John ‘Chick’ Lang, known as “Mr. Preakness.”

“We decided it was a graded stakes and we thought it would be a good spot for him,” Brisset said. “The sire was a champion and the mare [Beautician] was pretty quick, too. They did try to run her a couple times going two turns but it looked like every time they cut her back to one turn, she run a pretty fast number. This is why we decided we didn’t really have any Derby dream with him. He’s a smaller type sprinter.”

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyron has won each of his two starts this year after going unraced at 2, breaking his maiden Feb. 24 and coming back with a 2 ¾-length triumph in an optional claiming allowance April 13, both going six furlongs at Oaklawn Park.

“He’s two-for-two and deserves this opportunity,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He’s kind of a laid-back horse for somebody who is two-for-two and has run as fast as he has. I’m anxious to see how he steps up against this competition.”

West Point Thoroughbreds and Chris Larsen’s Still Dreaming, a half-brother to 2016 Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist, returns to graded company for the first time since finishing seventh in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

After another failed attempt around two turns in the March 16 Private Terms at Laurel Park behind Preakness contender Alwaysmining, trainer Graham Motion cut Still Dreaming back to springing for the first time since his career debut last November. The chestnut colt responded with a gutsy nose triumph in an optional claiming allowance going seven furlongs April 13, also at Laurel.

“It was a pretty nice effort last time. Ideally, I’d rather this was seven-eighths, but that’s not the case,” Motion said. “I always thought of him as potentially one of my best 3-year-olds, or my best 3-year-old. As a sprinter he kind of came from off of it last time, and I would imagine shortening up again to three-quarters that’s what he’ll do again.”

Also entered are Malpais and Admiral Lynch, 1-2, respectively, in the Robert Hilton Memorial April 20 at Charles Town; Roar Stakes winner Gladiator King; Cabot and Confessor, both making their stakes debut; and Lexitonian.

Top Line Growth Making Stakes Debut in $100,000 Sir Barton

Before saddling Maryland-bred multiple stakes winner Alwaysmining in the Preakness Stakes (G1), trainer Kelly Rubley will send out another promising sophomore, Top Line Growth, in the Sir Barton.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Sir Barton winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become the first horse to sweep what wouldn’t become known as the Triple Crown until Gallant Fox matched the feat in 1930.

Top Line Growth, a Maryland-bred son of Tapizar, cruised to a front-running 9 ½-length triumph in his April 22 debut at Laurel Park, running about 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.77.

“That was a nice effort. We had always thought he was a nice horse, but I actually thought he might need some experience because he’s just a big, goofy boy,” Rubley said. “But he showed us he’s got the ability, that’s for darn sure. Now he just needs the experience.”

Top Line Growth has breezed twice over the all-weather surface at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., going four furlongs in 48.80 seconds May 6, fastest of six horses, and 49 seconds May 12, ranking fourth of 10 horses.

“He’s just a big, growthy horse and he’s actually been in my barn for a year now. We took our time. The owners were wonderful. I kept telling them this horse is wonderful and he’s worth the wait, and he certainly showed us why.”

Though still establishing his running style, Rubley didn’t feel Top Notch Growth necessarily needs to be on the lead as he was in his unveiling.

“That wasn’t our expectation,” she said. “We did think we’d need to help him get out of the gate a little bit and he just never looked back.”

Rubley also entered Lead Off Stable’s Pretty Good Year, a maiden winner at first asking Jan. 10 at Laurel Park who was most recently third in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance April 13 at Laurel behind Still Dreaming, entered in Saturday’s Chick Lang (G3).

Red Oak Stable’s King for a Day is entered to make his 3-year-old debut in the Sir Barton. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Uncle Mo colt broke his maiden at second asking last October at Belmont Park prior to a fourth-place finish in the Nov. 24 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), beaten two lengths, both races coming at the Sir Barton distance. The KJC winner, Signalman, is entered in the Preakness, while runner-up Plus Que Parfait won the UAE Derby (G1) and ran in the Kentucky Derby.

Copper Penny Stables’ Trifor Gold was a distant second to Alwaysmining in the Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel. L and N Racing’s Tone Broke won twice last fall at Remington Park and raced over the winter in Dubai without success. Designated Hitters Racing’s V.I.P. Ticket has finished first in his last three races but was disqualified to second for interference in his most recent April 12 at Charles Town.