After a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, it wasn’t clear what was next for Maryland-based contender Win Win Win.
Given the proximity of Pimlico Race Course to his base at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, trainer Mike Trombetta didn’t have to rush a decision about the Preakness after the disappointing trip over the muddy track at Churchill Downs.
“It was on my radar,” he said. “But I wanted to see how the horse was.”
He was pleased with Win Win Win’s form and energy in training, so at the end of last week, he committed to the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Trombetta is hoping Win Win Win simply disliked the sloppy track in Kentucky.
“I was disappointed, but [jockey Julian Pimentel] was of the opinion that he just wasn’t fond of the surface that particular day,” he said. “He said he just didn’t seem quite like himself on it. So that’s all that I’ve got to go off of. … I’m just hoping that when we get to Pimlico, we have a fair, dry track for everyone.”
He and Win Win Win will make the short trip from Fair Hill on Thursday morning.
Trombetta, 52, grew up in Perry Hall and inherited a love of racing from his father, who owned horses and frequently took him to the track. He has built one of the most successful barns in Maryland, but Win Win Win was just the second horse he took to the Derby after Sweetnorthernsaint in 2006.
Sweetnorthernsaint also disappointed at Churchill Downs, finishing seventh after going off as the post-time favorite. But he came back to finish runner-up in a Preakness that was overshadowed by the breakdown of Barbaro.
The gelding’s overall success helped Trombetta become a full-time trainer after years of splitting time between his barn and working for his brother’s construction business.
Win Win Win set up his second chance at the Derby with a furious rally in the Blue Grass Stakes that earned him enough points to scrape into the field.
He’ll face a less proven field at Pimlico, but Trombetta made no bold predictions. “It’s going to be a tough race,” he said. “He’s doing well, and he deserves a chance.”
From the left coast
Trainer Blaine Wright left no doubt where he is coming from — literally — sporting some Seattle Seahawks garb as he talked about his first shot at the Preakness with Anothertwistafate.
That sparked some banter about his favorite NFL team before he got around to his horse, which is expected to go off at odds in the low double digits Saturday.
“The biggest thing for us, we came here to represent Golden Gate and the Stronach company who put that one on and everybody’s pulling for us back home,’’ Wright said.
Wright originally hoped to enter the Kentucky Derby, but instead focused on the Preakness after earning a fees-paid entry for Anothertwistafate with a victory in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February. He said Wednesday morning that he has no regrets.
“It’s a good thing that we opted not to go in the Derby,’’ Wright said. “I didn’t think we wanted to be in the outside post as an outside eligible and pay that kind of money to ruin our two-week run back to come to the race that’s paid into us. That was big in our decision process.”
Lukas: Preakness still a joy
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 83, has been coming to the Preakness for 39 years and has heard his share of gloom-and-doom stories about the future of the race, but he said the horsemen who come to Pimlico for the second jewel of the Triple Crown aren’t really exposed to the infrastructure problems that have plagued the racetrack for decades.
“I know they’ve had setbacks and different things, but having said that, from where we’re sitting, what we go through at the Preakness, it’s beautiful,’’ Lukas said. “They were talking about the cancelling a number of seats this year because they were faulty and everything, but we don’t feel that because we don’t sit in those seats. We’re given VIP treatment. We are treated royally here in the stakes barn so the whole experience for us is different than it is for John Doe who would go to the Preakness.”
Everfast expands field
The largest Preakness field since 2011 got a little larger Wednesday, when Louisville trainer Dale Romans registered Everfast as the 13th entry.
That might be considered an unlucky number, especially in a year when the Preakness already has seen its share of bad fortune with the negative impact from the controversial end of the Kentucky Derby, but Romans clearly sees an opportunity.
Everfast ran a strong second in the Holy Bull Stakes in February, but has finished no better than fifth in his past three graded stakes races.
“He jumped up and ran big in the Holy Bull,’’ said Romans, who won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford. “When he runs big, he runs big. We’re hoping he throws in one of those big races. Some of the top contenders are missing, so we’ll take a chance.”