BALTIMORE, Md. — The word "perfect" was the first thing uttered by exercise rider Bryan Beccia as he came off the Pimlico Race Course track Wednesday morning after guiding Ride On Curlin through an eye-catching half-mile work in 493⁄5, the colt's final serious move in advance of Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
With trainer Billy Gowan watching the work next to Art Sherman, conditioner of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, Ride On Curlin was barely asked by Beccia as he clocked splits of 122⁄5, 251⁄5, and 373⁄5 while galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:033⁄5.
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Beccia said the son of Curlin seemed much more comfortable over the Pimlico surface than he was prepping at Churchill Downs en route to his seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
"He was just in a high gallop, I never moved on him," an enthused Beccia said. "I was scared to move on him because if I did he would have kicked into another gear. He's handling the track real well, real fluid. He's really throwing them out there compared to Churchill where he wasn't as fluid as he was at Oaklawn.
"He's even more fluid here. It's all up to him now. Just give us a clean trip one time."
Troubled outings have been a hallmark of Ride On Curlin this season, and the Kentucky Derby was no different. After being taken back to last in the 19-horse field by jockey Calvin Borel, the bay colt got no help up front with the tepid fractions and had to make a charge on the far outside to even threaten in the lane.
Ride On Curlin will have a new pilot in Joel Rosario for the 13⁄16-mile Preakness and, with only 10 horses slated to run, a no-excuses path should be more likely to emerge for what will be the colt's 11th career start.
"He's definitely getting over the track excellent and when Bryan came by me at the eighth pole he had a hold of him. I was really happy with it," Gowan said. "He's just a tough horse and he can take a lot of work. We sure didn't have a very good (trip in the Derby). Hopefully we can turn the tables."
Both Beccia and Gowan remarked they believe Ride On Curlin has actually put on weight since his Derby run, further backing up his trainer's claims the race took little out of him.
"I think he'll run over anything; if they ran on turf I wouldn't care," Gowan said. "But he moves good over this track; it's got a good cushion on it and it's got a good surface."
Ride On Curlin has two wins from 10 starts and was second in the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 12. The prospect of a wet track for Saturday also is of little concern to Gowan as Ride On Curlin finished third, beaten just a length, over a wet-fast track at Oaklawn Park in the Grade II Rebel Stakes.
Ria Antonia, Bayern lead Wednesday arrivals
Four more Preakness hopefuls are on the Pimlico grounds as a plane carrying Bayern, Dynamic Impact, Pablo Del Monte and Ria Antonia arrived from Louisville Wednesday afternoon.
All four arrived at Pimlico at around 4:30. The only Preakness hopeful left to travel is Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend, who will van over from Fair Hill Training Center on Thursday.