Preakness Stakes contender Went the Day Well galloped over the Pimlico strip on Thursday for owners Team Valor International and Mark Ford.
Trainer Graham Motion, who shipped Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom to Pimlico last year on the morning of the Preakness, opted to ship Went the Day Well from Fair Hill Training Center ahead of Saturday’s Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“I thought the track was a little deeper,” said Motion, who sent Went the Day Well to Pimlico on Wednesday. “I never saw a horse come back with so much dirt in his face.”
While a lot of thought went into the decision to bring Went the Day Well to Pimlico early, Motion said it was an easy decision to run the fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher in the Preakness.
“We made a quick decision to run here after the Derby. It wasn’t a hard decision. He’s a horse that never seems to get tired, to be honest,” Motion said. “We’ve noticed when we work him or we run him that he never seems to get tired.”
Went the Day well was closing fastest of all at the finish of the Kentucky Derby, in which he got off to a slow start and encountered bumping before launching a late surge through the stretch. Went the Day Well finished just 2 ½ lengths behind the Doug O’Neill-trained winner, I’ll Have Another.
“So many people can come back and say that after the Derby,” Motion said. “Doug’s horse had a great run. It somewhat amuses me that people want to talk about the other horses. He won the race. He was the best horse on the day. He had a great trip; we had a great trip last year. There’s always going to be horses that didn’t have a great trip in the Derby. Doug’s horse is the horse to beat.”
Although Motion admitted that he’s more comfortable flying under the radar heading into a big race, he enjoyed his experience leading up to last year’s Preakness.
“When you come to the Preakness with a Derby winner, that’s cool,” Motion said.
Yet, Animal Kingdom’s narrow loss still stings a little.
“I was kind of shocked to see Shackleford’s picture on the grandstand when I drove in this morning,” Motion said. “I kind of got a pit in my stomach.”
Went the Day Well will be ridden by John Velazquez, who piloted Animal Kingdom last year and rode Went the Day Well in the Derby.
–Maryland Jockey Club Publicity contributed to this report.
Went the Day Well/Lang photo