Allowance Winner Creative Minister Confirmed For Preakness; Decisions Pending For Epicenter, Lukas Trainees - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Allowance Winner Creative Minister Confirmed For Preakness; Decisions Pending For Epicenter, Lukas Trainees

Creative Minister wins an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard

Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing's Creative Minister, a sharp allowance winner on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard Saturday, is headed for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Kenny McPeek told the Daily Racing Form.

The son of Creative Cause was not nominated for the Triple Crown and will have to be supplemented for $150,000 to enter the Preakness.

McPeek also told the DRF that Smile Happy, eighth in the Derby, would not run in the Preakness. Rattle N Roll remains a possible starter depending upon on how he looks in a timed workout this weekend.

Creative Minister was second by a neck in his career debut, a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream Park on March 5. He broke his maiden on April 9 at Keeneland at 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track and won by 2 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Epicenter walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs for the third morning after his big effort last Saturday. Trainer Steve Asmussen, a two-time Preakness winner with Horses of the Year Curlin (2007) and the filly Rachel Alexandra (2009), reiterated that the decision concerning Epicenter's status for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) would be made after the son of Not This Time resumed training but that he likes what he sees so far.

“We were going to wait until he goes back to the track (Wednesday) and then discuss it,” the Hall of Fame trainer said at Churchill Downs. “But I'm extremely happy with everything I see to this point, just kind of want to see how he travels, his energy level under weight. But it would be very surprising to me if he's ever anything but perfect.”

Fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said “no changes” when asked if a Preakness decision had been made for either Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath or Ethereal Road. The six-time Preakness-winning trainer said Secret Oath resumed training while jogging at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. Ethereal Road has been training all along since being scratched last Friday morning from the Kentucky Derby – the defection that paved the way for Rich Strike to draw in off the also-eligible list.

Un Ojo, Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes (G2) winner at 75-1 odds, continues to do well since being withdrawn from the Derby with a minor foot bruise on the morning of entries. Assistant trainer Clay Courville was aboard as the one-eyed gelding jogged a mile and galloped a mile Tuesday at Churchill Downs right before the 7 a.m. track renovation break.

“He felt really good,” said Courville, the son of trainer Ricky Courville. “He was playing while jogging one time around, so I decided to turn him around and he galloped good. He hit the ground good. He was pulling on me, that's for sure. He was tough.”

Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, galloped at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park's satellite training center in Palm Beach County, Tuesday morning in advance of a scheduled start in the 147th Preakness.

The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt has shown marked improvement while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in his last two starts, a 3 ¾-length score in a Gulfstream allowance and his third-place finish behind Mo Donegal and Early Voting in the Wood.

“Skippy makes one run, so the more distance the better for him,” Joseph said. “He was coming off that allowance win at Gulfstream and in the Wood he ran another top number, so he's deserving of a chance.

“Seeing the Derby, anything can happen in races. I don't know if another shocker can happen, but we're going to give it a go,” he added.

Skippylongstocking is a Kentucky-bred son of Exaggerator, winner of the 2016 Preakness Stakes.

“I hope he follows in his father's footsteps,” Joseph said.

Joseph-trained White Abarrio, who finished a troubled 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), arrived at Gulfstream Park Tuesday morning from Churchill Downs. The Florida Derby (G1) winner will bypass the final two legs of the Triple Crown.

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