Mandaloun, who finished second in the 147th Kentucky Derby (G1), will bypass the Preakness Stakes trainer Brad Cox said on May 6. Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Mandaloun, Caddo River to Skip Preakness Stakes

By Alicia Hughes

Juddmonte’s Mandaloun, runner-up in the 147th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and stakes-winning stablemate Caddo River will not move on to Baltimore for the May 15 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Brad Cox announced during a national teleconference on May 6.

Mandaloun and Caddo River had been under consideration for the middle leg of the Triple Crown with the former falling just a half-length short of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit after battling down the lane. During a conference call hosted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Cox said Caddo River would instead point for the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 29 and that no decision had been made on a next start for Mandaloun.

“He ran well and hard and we would like to give him some time,” Cox said of Mandaloun. “To run him back in two weeks we feel would compromise his opportunity to run the rest of the year and maybe even as an older horse. In the best interest of the horse, we feel like running him back in two weeks is just not the right thing for him.

“For my horses, I just like the idea of a little more time. I just am not a big fan of running back in two weeks unless you win the Kentucky Derby and the horse comes out of it in good order and you march forward. But without there being an opportunity at a Triple Crown, I just think it’s best for the horse to target some other races later on in the year.”

Caddo River has not started since finishing second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 10. The son of Hard Spun was slated to start in the Kentucky Derby but was withdrawn from consideration after spiking a fever the Sunday before the race. 

Cox announced earlier this week that Godolphin’s homebred champion Essential Quality, who suffered his first career loss when finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, would also skip the 1 3/16-miles Preakness Stakes and target the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in August.

“There is a good opportunity he could show up in a race prior to the Travers,” Cox said of the son of Tapit. “That could be possibly the Jim Dandy or something along those lines. But the long-term goal is the Travers. How we get there, I’m not sure.”

Midnight Bourbon Confirmed for Start in May 15 Preakness

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Thursday morning that Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon will run in the 146th Preakness Stakes.

Asmussen, via text from Texas, also confirmed that Irad Ortiz Jr., the defending three-time Eclipse Award champion, will ride the son of Tiznow in the middle leg of the Triple Crown.

Winchell Thoroughbreds is seeking its first victory in a Triple Crown race in the family’s many decades in horse racing, while Asmussen won the Preakness in 2007 with eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and two years later with the filly and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Winchell Thoroughbreds did finish third with Tenfold, just three-quarters of a length behind eventual Triple Crown hero Justify in the foggy 2018 Preakness. Tenfold went on to win the 2019 Pimlico Special (G3).

Midnight Bourbon closed from well back to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby after breaking slowly and taking him out of his up-close running style.

“We didn’t think he got the opportunity that he deserved after he missed the break and his back end went out from underneath him,” said David Fiske, the longtime racing and bloodstock manager for the late Verne Winchell and subsequently for Verne’s son Ron Winchell. “He got jostled around by the horses on either side of him, then lost some ground. He was pretty wide on the second turn; I think eventually he ran 52 or 56 feet farther than the winner. So that would have put him a little closer. And speed seemed to be lethal on Saturday. There weren’t a whole lot of horses that were closing on the front-runners. Then the fact that it took two handlers to get him back to the barn to give him a bath, it didn’t seem to take that much out of him. So we thought we’d give it a try.”

Midnight Bourbon visited Churchill Downs’ starting gate for routine schooling Thursday, followed by a controlled gallop.

“The horse is doing great,” said Scott Blasi, the assistant trainer who oversees Asmussen’s Churchill Downs operation. “I don’t think he did a lot of running early (in the Derby), so he seems to have come out of the race pretty fresh.”