An Ojo on track for Preakness

BALTIMORE, MD.—Forced to bypass the Kentucky Derby because of a minor but premature foot bruise, An Ojo’s The team believes the gelding will be ready to give his best in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Racecourse.

An Ojo ran around the Churchill Downs mile track twice on Monday morning under Clay Courville, an assistant to his father, Louisiana-based trainer Ricky Courville, while also serving as a practice rider, groom and hotwalker when their stable star is on the road.

” He is fine. He’s been training well, he’s been back on the track three times now,” said Clay Courville. “He is on the right track, he is moving forward. He wanted to gallop. I decided to give him another day of jogging and I will gallop him (Tuesday) morning. The foot looks good. It touches the ground well, travels well. We’ll gallop tomorrow and see how he goes.

The one-eyed Un Ojo was removed from the Derby the morning entries were taken, five days before the Churchill Downs Classic.

“It was tough,” Clay Courville said. “It was difficult to do, but it was the right thing for the horse. If all goes well, we will be on the Preakness. He has to work on Saturday morning. We will see how he is after that and decide what to do.

Un Ojo’s Pre-Derby Works (no other works have been listed on Equibase)

Track Date Course Distance Weather To note Rank
Churchill Falls 04/30/2022 Dirt 4F 47.60 Broken 14/133
Churchill Falls 04/23/2022 Dirt 5F 59.40 Broken 2/70
The Copper Crowne Training Center 04/16/2022 Dirt 5F 1:03.15 Broken 2/8
Oaklawn Park 03/26/2022 Dirt 4F 48.80 Broken 94/21
The Copper Crowne Training Center 03/19/2022 Dirt 5F 1:03.00 Broken 1/6

Courville said his father had never raced at Pimlico, but came to Old Hilltop when coach Eric Guillot asked him to help with Laoban, the father of Un Ojo, who finished sixth of Preakness 2016.

“I was working for my dad when Mr. Eric called me and gave me the opportunity to travel and ride with him and ride for the Preakness,” he said. “I took advantage of it and went. It was just cool to be up there and experience new things as a young kid.

Clay Courville, now 25, can relish Rich Strike’s victory in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 80 to 1 after taking to the field literally at the last minute to carry the ‘little guy’ banner. Rich Strike is just the second graduated stakes winner for trainer Eric Reed, in a career that began in 1985 and includes 1,445 wins through Sunday. Un Ojo won the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) from Oaklawn Park 75-1 to give Ricky Courville his first tier score.

“I was extremely happy with their relationship,” Clay Courville said of Team Rich Strike. “I think people like that deserve it, people who work hard and don’t have a lot of horses like that, like most people don’t. They take pride in their work and I like to see people like them win.

Still, Clay Courville acknowledged of the Derby: “It kind of sucked watching it, because I was like, ‘Man, that’s perfect for our type of horse: the fast pace and all the close-ups happened while running.’ We never know.”

Coaches Bonus Returns for Preakness Weekend

For the sixth consecutive year, the Maryland Jockey Club is offering bonuses totaling $100,000 to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in all 15 Thoroughbred stake races during Earliness weekend, May 20 and 21, at historic Pimlico Racecourse.

Points are accrued for finishing first (10 runs), second (seven), third (five), fourth (three) and having a runner (one) in all 15 Thoroughbred stakes, led by 147and Preakness Stakes (G1), Medium Gem of the Triple CrownMay 21.

Sunrise at Old Hilltop Tours

Sunrise at Old Hilltop, one of the most popular events leading up to the Precocity issues (G1), will return to historic Pimlico Racecourse this year.

Admission is free at Sunrise at Old Hilltop Tourswhich operate on a first-come, first-served basis between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. from Tuesday, May 17 to Friday, May 20. Customers can register at the registration tent on the track apron.

In addition to watching the sun rise over the nation’s second-oldest thoroughbred racetrack, opened in 1870, tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Fans will watch the horses practice on the track before having the chance to see them up close, meet and greet the riders and learn some of the history behind the Preakness. Click to make your reservations.

Preakness live!1/ST EXPERIENCE, curators of world-class entertainment and local hospitality for Preakness 147, announces collaboration with Kevin Liles of Baltimore, CEO and President of 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group, to launch Preakness LIVE Culinary, Art & Music Festival as part of a larger celebration of Preakness entertainment and culture taking place on Black-Eyed Susan Day, Friday May 20. The festival is just one part of 1/ST’s new long-term campaign, Baltimore 1/ST, which starts this year. Click for tickets.

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release / Amended
Photo: An Ojo in a job at Oaklawn breaks 4F in 48.80 on March 26 ahead of his 8th-place finish in the Arkansas Derby after winning the Rebel at Oaklawn on February 26. (Coady Photography)

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