NEW ORLEANS — One local trainer will wait until the Belmont Stakes to challenge Kentucky Derby winner Orb again, but another is ready to take him on in the Preakness.
Dallas Stewart said Sunday that Golden Soul, the long shot runner-up Saturday at Churchill Downs, will wait until the June 8 Belmont Stakes to race again. That could leave Al Stall Jr.’s Departing as the main threat to Orb in the Preakness on May 18.
“We’re committed to the Preakness,” Stall said Sunday. “We’re going to give it a whirl.”
Departing finished third in the Louisiana Derby on March 30. But instead of trying to earn enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, Stall pointed the Claiborne Farms horse to the Illinois Derby two weeks ago, where he scored an impressive 3¼-length victory.
“No doubt about it, Orb’s a strong horse,” Stall said. “But we’ve got a horse that’s won four out of five, and the one race he did lose was the Louisiana Derby, which had some nice horses in there. And then we clearly saw a nice step forward in his last race. So the Preakness being four weeks forward makes pretty good sense for us.”
The Preakness would be only the second Triple Crown race for Stall. Terrain finished seventh in the Preakness in 2009.
Stall said the 13⁄16-mile distance of the Preakness could work to Departing’s advantage since the horse will be moving up from 11⁄8-mile runs at the Louisiana and Illinois derbies.
“Generally you do better when stretching out than moving back,” he said. “So we’re very comfortable.”
Stewart, who said Saturday that “nobody has ever been happier finishing second,” said Sunday that he felt Golden Soul would fare better with extra time before the Belmont, plus that race’s 1½-mile distance.
“Belmont’s definitely a go for us,” he said. “We’ve got a good distance horse, and I don’t think he’d be ready to go in two weeks.”
Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary, who finished third Saturday, also will skip the Preakness, trainer Todd Pletcher said. But Mylute, the Louisiana Derby runner-up trained by Tom Amoss, might give the Preakness a go, said Todd Quast, head trainer of GoldStar Farms, the horse’s owner.
Stall said Saturday’s results showed the quality of Louisiana racing.
“Obviously Golden Soul and Revolutionary ran well,” he said. “And Mylute did a good job, too. I can’t tell you how many years Dallas and especially Tom have known each other and been at this. Sometimes you have to wait to get the right horse in the right race at the right time.”
Stall said his only regret was not betting on Golden Soul.
“I used Orb in a couple of spots, but I’m mad at myself because I went with Overanalyze (who finished 10th),” he said. “There was a superfecta that paid $57,000. That would have been nice, but there’s a lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda in this business.”