2013 Preakness Stakes Trainers
by Trevor Whenham - 5/14/2013
When you get a collection of top horses contesting a Triple Crown race, you can be all but certain that there will be a cast of fascinating characters training them. Though the field is small this year, the 2013 Preakness Stakes trainers certainly don’t disappoint this year:
Shug McGaughey, Orb
McGaughey is a racing legend, and the Kentucky Derby was the biggest jewel missing from a massive pile of accolades over the years. He has won the second most Breeders’ Cup races among many other accomplishments in a hall-of-fame career. He got his break training for legendary owner Ogden Phipps back in 1986, and the Phipps family is a part owner of Orb, so it has been a long and very successful relationship. He is very patient with his young horses and lets them develop at their own pace. As a result, he doesn’t have a lot of Triple Crown contenders. He got the one he needed, though, and his excitement over Orb throughout the process has been surprising — and a very good sign.
D. Wayne Lukas, Oxbow, Titletown Five, Will Take Charge
The one man McGaughey trails in all-time Breeders’ Cup wins is Lukas, and the margin is massive — McGaughey has nine wins, and Lukas has 19. Lukas also is tied for the most Triple Crown race wins of all time. He has 13 in all — four Derby and Belmont wins and five Preakness victories. Needless to say, the term “legend” also fits Lukas well. He’ll turn 78 in December, though, so the old man has slowed down in recent years. His career has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance the last couple of years, though. He doesn’t have top-level horses here. However, with fully a third of the likely field in his stable he has a good shot at making something happen.
Bob Baffert, Govenor Charlie
We are on a good roll with this legend talk, so we might as well keep it up. Baffert qualifies as well. Seven Breeders’ Cup wins. Two Dubai World Cup victories. Three Derby victories. Five Preakness wins. a Belmont win. He’s done it all. What he didn’t do this year, though, was manage to get a horse to the Derby. You never would have guessed in January that that would have happened because he had a deep, talented stable. He just didn’t have the luck to match. Govenor Charlie was seriously considered for the Derby but lands here instead after a minor foot issue stalled his Derby preparations.
Eddie Plesa, Jr., Itsmyluckyday
Plesa is the son of a jockey. His brother-in-law John Servis was the trainer of Smarty Jones, who won the Derby and Preakness in 2004. Racing is in his blood. He is based in South Florida, where he has been reasonably successful over the years. He has not had a whole lot of national breakout stars, but he is consistent and knows his stuff. He has some different views on training than most trainers, too. For example, he uses a lot of one-mile works with his horses. Most trainers stick to works of five furlongs or less between races. Itsmyluckyday had a one-mile work before the Derby, so that could be a factor here.
Tom Amoss, Mylute
Amoss isn’t a guy that most casual racing fans will be familiar with — though he has done a bit of analyst work with ESPN over the years. Amoss doesn’t have a lot of national contender-type horses, but he seems fine with that. All he does is win. A lot. In his native Louisiana he is a training force. He currently sits seventh in the country in wins — just one spot behind Todd Pletcher.
Al Stall, Jr., Departing
Stall is another guy who doesn’t play on the biggest of stages very often — this is just his second Triple Crown entrant. When he has been in big races, though, he has done his damage. In fact, his horse has a chance to be a spoiler for Orb here, and if he does it won’t be the first time Stall has played that role. In by far the biggest win of his career, Stall saddled Blame to win the Breeders’ Cup in 2010. In winning he dealt Zenyatta her only loss in her brilliant 20-race career.
Doug O’Neill, Goldencents
O’Neill is a complicated figure in the sport. On one hand he has had success — he won the Derby and Preakness last year with I’ll Have Another and has won the tough Santa Anita Derby two years in a row. It would be much easier to praise him, though, if he wasn’t such a cheater. He has been caught milkshaking — forcing a solution down a horse’s throat before a race to limit the development of lactic acid — more than any other active trainer and is as questionable in his tactics as any guy. He’s hard to like. The scrutiny in the days before Triple Crown races has intensified the last couple of years partly in response to him — so there are inevitable questions about how clean this horse will be and what impact that will have.
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