Preakness Stakes Profile: Luv Gov
by Trevor Whenham - 05/12/2009
Last race: Luv Gov had a big win on Derby day, but it was before most of the 155,000 people attending the races at Churchill Downs that day were paying attention. He won the third race, a maiden special weight for three year olds and upwards, by six and a half lengths in an impressive showing. He settled well off the pace for the first three quarters of a mile, moved up steadily around the final turn, and pulled away steadily down the stretch. He was the third choice in the field of 11 that day.
Career highlights: It's hard to find too many. It took him 10 tries to break his maiden (get his first win against other horses that have never won a race). In six races as a two year old he was third just once. As a three year old he showed improvement, finishing second three times before finally getting the win. His record certainly doesn't indicate that he is Preakness-worthy. Despite that, trainer D. Wayne Lukas remains very optimistic about this horse. He specifically asked the owners to run the horse in the race, and he is on record saying that this is his favorite three year old in his barn. He clearly sees something that has been well hidden up until now.
Jockey: The connections were in no rush to name a rider. Miguel Mena handled him in his last win, but it appears that Jamie Theriot will get the nod in the Preakness. This would be Theriot's second straight Preakness - he rode Kentucky Bear to a sixth last year. Theriot is a very streaky rider, but he is very effective when he is hot - he won six races on a single card at Churchill last June.
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Though he seems, for now at least, to be in the twilight of his career, Lukas is a legendary trainer that has particularly shone in the Triple Crown. He has 14 Triple Crown wins, including five in the Preakness. He once won six straight Triple Crown races starting with the Preakness in 1994. His last Preakness win was in 1999 with Charismatic. He came very close to winning the Triple Crown that year, and probably would have if he hadn't suffered a broken leg in the stretch of the Belmont. His last Triple Crown win was the 2000 Belmont with Commendable.
Pedigree: Luv Gov's sire, Ten Most Wanted, was a popular choice in the 2003 Kentucky Derby after he won the Illinois Derby. He was a disappointing ninth in that race, but he bounced back nicely to finish second ahead of Funny Cide in the Belmont that ruined the latter horse's shot at the Triple Crown.
Running style: Since he's only won once in 10 races it's easy to pick out the running style that works best for him. He sat well off the pace in his last race, and he looked quite comfortable doing it. He didn't even think about engaging the field until the final turn, and shifted into a new gear once the stretch was underway.
Pedigree prognosis: It's hardly possible for a horse to take a bigger jump in class than this horse will take here. His last win was impressive and could be a sign that the horse has discovered something about himself and this sport. As much as Lukas likes this horse, it's tough to like his chances here. I'll be leaving him out of my exotics, and if he beats me so be it.