Michael Trombetta was on his way out of Pimlico Race Course early Friday morning after training hours and a day before the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes (GI).
“It’s been so busy this week, I haven’t even taken a close look at the field,’’ said Trombetta, a Marylander based at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. “I’ve got to go lock myself in a room and really look it over.”
Trombetta will saddle 15-1 shot Win Win Win in the second leg of the Triple Crown, which drew a large field 13 going 1 3-16 miles over what is looking like a dry track. Win Win Win will be ridden by Julien Pimentel and leave from the number 13 post.
Win Win Win finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby (GI), where Maximum Security finished first but was disqualified to 17th for interference and runner-up Country House was declared the winner.
Since the first four horses across the Derby finish line aren’t running in the Preakness, the next finisher — Improbable — is the 5-2 morning-line favorite here. But as Improbable trainer Bob Baffert — a seven-time Preakness winner — says, the field is pretty wide open.
“There’s a lot of horses, like in the Derby, that have the same style — high cruisers,’’ said the two-time Triple Crown winner. “So there’s going to be two different waves. There’s some fast horses in there. I think it’s a tough field. I know I might be the favorite. Somebody had to be the favorite.”
Win Win Win isn’t among them, but is one of four Derby runners coming back for the Preakness on just two weeks’ rest (Improbable, War of Will and Bodexpress are the others). For Trombetta, he’s close to home, and hoping for a better outcome for his 3-year-old colt owned by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation.
“It’s sure nice to be closer to home,’’ said Trombetta. “We spent a lot of time in Tampa over the winter and we’ve gone back and forth to Kentucky, so a one-hour van ride over is pretty sweet.”
Until the Derby, Win Win Win finished in the top 3 in his six previous starts. In three races this year, he won the Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs, setting a track record for seven furlongs; finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2); and second in the Blue Grass (G2), all with powerful closing kicks.
“The consensus is that he didn’t handle the Derby footing over the wet track,’’ said Trombetta. “I’m not sure if he has to come from behind or be up closer. We’ll just have to see. But we’re hoping for some dry weather.”
Trombetta, who was a teenager growing up in Perry Hall, Maryland, when he got his first taste of racing (his father bought into a couple of thoroughbreds), is sending out his second Preakness starter. In 2006, Sweetnorthernsaint finished second to Bernardini.
What would winning the Preakness mean?
“It’s not the Derby, but it’s awfully close,’’ he said. “I’ve been watching the Preakness since I was 12 so it would mean a lot.”
Over the Preakness weekend, Trombetta had a total 12 of horses entered in races Friday and Saturday, including Win Win Win.
“I was sitting there thinking that 35 years ago, I was a groom working on the backstretch here at Pimlico,’’ he said. “There were horse farms not far from where we lived, but my exposure was with the track. I fell in love with the sport, the horses, and the people.”
Trombetta has sent out more than 9,700 starters during his training career that began in 1989 and has more than 1,700 victories.