A year ago, assistant trainer Jose Hernandez came to Baltimore with Cloud Computing a couple of days ahead of his boss, trainer Chad Brown. Hernandez arrived earlier this week with Good Magic, getting to town Monday in advance of Tuesday morning’s first workout at Pimlico Race Course.
A year after watching Cloud Computing go off as a 13-1 long shot and chase down Classic Empire to win, Brown and Hernandez are back with a better horse. Good Magic, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, has the second-best odds of the eight participants and is considered the only other horse with a legitimate shot to beat Justify.
Hernandez liked what he saw from Good Magic during the brisk Tuesday morning workout he put the horse through.
“I thought the horse trained really well, handled the track really well, too, and he came in in good shape,” Hernandez said. “Galloped him a little more than a mile and a quarter. He likes [the track].”
Asked what he thought he needed to do to help Good Magic beat the overwhelming favorite Saturday, Hernandez said: “Keep him happy and sound. I saw him in his stall this morning. He was happy. I think we’re ready.”
Can you compare the two horses?
“Don’t get me wrong, Justify is a nice horse, but this is a nice horse, too, and we’ll what happens,” Hernandez said.
Exercise rider Walter Malasquez doesn’t think Good Magic’s ride in the Kentucky Derby wore him out.
“No difference. It’s still the same horse he was in Kentucky. Nothing changed,” Malasquez said after the workout.
Asked to judge the horse’s energy lever heading into Saturday’s race compared with what it was going into Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Malasquez said: “I expect his level to be a little down after the [Kentucky Derby]. He was the same. I was surprised the horse came out of the race like that.”
Malasquez, 31, started as Good Magic’s exercise rider last summer, first in Saratoga and then regularly in the lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, where Good Magic won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Good Magic also won this year’s $1 million Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April.
While much of the horse’s “quiet” nature has remained the same, “he’s a little more focused now,” Malasquez said. “He know[s] what he has to do.”
Sunrise tours go through Friday
One of the busiest people at Pimlico during Preakness week is Fran Burns, the head tour guide for the Stronach Group’s Sunrise Tour.
A year ago, 2,700 people toured the historic race course during the four days leading up to the Preakness.
There were 200 on the grounds Tuesday and could be as many as 1,200 weather permitting Friday, according to a Stronach Group spokesperson.
The tours are free of charge.
“Each of our tour guides comes from some walk of horses,” said Burns, who has a staff of 15. “Each of our guides brings something a little different from a horse perspective.”
Burns owns a horse farm in Monkton, where she takes care of five older horses, including a few racehorses. One of them is 31-year-old Ineluctability, whose sire was Maryland-bred stallion Horatius.
“Edgar Prado, who’s about to get his 7000th win, won on [Ineluctability] in 1990 at Pimlico,” said Burns, who has the horse’s winner’s circle picture autographed by Prado.
Because of the smaller crowd Tuesday, the groups — including the entire student population and teachers from nearby Arlington Elementary School — were able to get to see track farrier Mike Shipley at work, as well as go to the jockeys’ room, the winner's circle and the paddock.
Part of the tour also included a short program from the Baltimore City mounted police. The Clydesdales, a popular yearly tradition, will be back Wednesday through Friday, Burns said.
“When you come early [in the week], you get to see more,” Burns said. “It’s hard because we don’t have all the Preakness horses here, but [they] get to feel the flavor of the racetrack. This is the second-oldest racetrack in the country and there’s a lot of history here.”
Linda Frueh, of Middle River, has made the sunrise tour a yearly tradition for her two daughters, ages 4 and 6. This year, Frueh’s husband, Brian, was able to come along.
With her hat and those of her daughters decorated with paper flowers, Frueh seemed in the spirit of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
“I get these two decked out every year when we come to the tour,” Frueh said. “They can see [on television] the ladies dressed up at the actual races. They feel like they were a part of it.”
It appeared Frueh was more excited to come Tuesday than her kids.
“I really had to drag them out of bed this morning,” Frueh said with a laugh. “They weren’t having it today.”