For the second year straight, the Doug O’Neill barn arrived first at Pimlico Race Course to prepare for the Preakness Stakes. In a sport that happens before most people wake up in the morning, O’Neill likes his crew to stake their territory far in advance of any other contender of the race.
There’s one big difference this year. Team O’Neill enters the Preakness Stakes without a ribbon of roses. They bombed in the Kentucky Derby – and not in the good horse racing way. Goldencents finished in 17th place – partially pulled up by jockey Kevin Krigger – who seemed shocked of the blazing pace set by Palace Malice.
“I thought we were going to run a great race, but it unfolded that we ran our worst race to date,” Krigger said on Tuesday morning.
Krigger, on his first Triple Crown trail, wasn’t the brash young man we saw before the Kentucky Derby when he called himself the best jockey in the country. Oh, he still thinks very highly of himself for a guy without a Wikipedia page and fewer Twitter followers than myself.
“I always feel that way,” Krigger said with a slight smile. “Every morning I wake up, I wake up with that on my mind.”
Krigger will stay in Baltimore for the better part of the next two weeks and match every step his three-year-old horse takes. The jockey will zap mounts until the Preakness Stakes to concentrate on the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. That’s either an incredible amount of confidence or one of the worst financial decisions Krigger will ever make.
Trainer O’Neill gets here on Sunday and the activity picks up in the middle part of next week. Right now, the jockey of Goldencents hopes that a silver trophy waits for him on May 18.
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