Preachinatthebar Could Give Pegram a Second Texas Mile Win

(April 26, 2006) - The owner and trainer combination of Mike Pegram and Bob Baffert, along with co-owner Terry Henn, won the inaugural Texas Mile in 1997 with the lightning-fast Isitingood, who still holds the one-mile track record at Lone Star Park nine years later. On Saturday, Baffert and Pegram will try to pull off another upset with recent Grade III Tokyo City Handicap winner Preachinatthebar.

Since winning the Kentucky Derby with Real Quiet in 1998, Pegram has been one of the most popular and visible owners in racing. Real Quiet went on to just miss becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, losing the Belmont Stakes to Victory Gallop by a nose. Pegram has also campaigned champion filly Silverbulletday and Dubai World Cup hero Captain Steve.

Preachinathebar won the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park as a 3-year-old in 2004, but had not won another stakes until the Tokyo City on April 1. Now 5-years-old, Preachinatthebar could work his way into the upper echelon of Pegram's all-time best horses, if he can stay on top of his game.

"If he shows up and runs his race he's going to be tough," Pegram said. "He had his breakout race last time and he's always been one of those hard-knocking horses. It looks like he finally put it all together and we'll find out on Saturday whether he's a one-hit wonder or if he can put together two in a row."

Preachinatthebar, a son of Baffert's 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, was bred by Pegram in Kentucky.

"It 's always good to have the homebreds running well," he said. "Silver Charm, even though it wasn't my horse, is the one that put Bobby on the map. And that mare, Holy Nola, was a good little mare for me."

Preachinatthebar worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5, handily, at Santa Anita on Monday. Pegram reported that Baffert described the work as "nice and easy" when they spoke by telephone that day.

Jon Court, who rode Preachinatthebar for the first time in the Tokyo City triumph, will be back aboard for the Texas Mile, according to the jockey's agent, Craig O'Brien. If any Southern California jockey should feel at home in Grand Prairie these days it is Court, who won five stakes events at Lone Star Park last season: the Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes (aboard Mad Adam), the Lone Star Park Handicap (Supah Blitz), the Stonerside Stakes (R Fast Lady), the Walmac Lone Star Derby (Southern Africa) and the Ford Express Stakes (Rodeo's Castle). In 2001 Court won his first Lone Star Derby on Percy Hope.

What's in a name?

Preachinatthebar was the first foal out of stakes-winning mare Holy Nola, who was named for a popular racetrack employee in Southern California, Nola Ferraro.

"She's a bartender at Santa Anita who got religious on us, so we named Holy Nola after her," Pegram said. "The first baby out of Holy Nola was this horse and we tried to find an appropriate name for him. Nola went from being a born-again to being a bartender to preaching to you at the bar all day long."

Dominguin Finishes Strong in Monday Breeze

Dominguin, fifth in the UAE Derby, breezed an easy four furlongs in :51 1/5 on Monday at Lone Star Park in preparation for Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile. The 4-year-old Peruvian-bred gelding didn't really start running until the quarter-pole, having traveled his first quarter-mile in :27 and change.

"I clocked it in :50 4/5 and he finished his last eighth in :10 4/5," trainer Dante Zanelli Jr. said. "That's usually what he does, finishes in :11 or so. But it doesn't really matter; I'm not looking for a time. I'm looking at how he does it. He did it totally on his own the whole way around."

Zanelli said he believes his horse is as good as the more accomplished North American stakes winners shipping in from Southern California, especially after Monday's workout.

"He came out of it perfect," Zanelli said. "He's doing even better than he did in Dubai. Everything's done, let's run."

Nakayamu Kun 'Very Sharp' Despite Layoff

Nakayama Kun, winner of last summer's Governors Handicap at Ellis Park, will try to upset Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile off a 5 ½-month layoff. Trainer Akiko Gothard said the 6-year-old had bone chips removed late last year and was given more time than he needed to recuperate.

"He's very sharp right now," Gothard said. "We've given him much more training than necessary. We were going to give him an easy race at Gulfstream but it didn't go. We've been training him a lot."

Gothard said Nakayama Kun last worked Saturday at Gulfstream, breezing an easy six furlongs in 1:13. The son of Known Fact arrived in Barn B4 at Lone Star Park on Monday with an assistant.

Nakayama Kun won twice at one mile last year. In a $35,000 second-level allowance race at Gulfstream, he cruised to a 1 ½-length triumph in 1:34 1/5.

"He loves the Gulfstream track," Gothard said. "If [the Lone Star Park surface] is anything like that he should do well. He's pretty fussy. He loves Gulfstream and Ellis, but he hates Churchill and he hates Keeneland."

Asked how Nakayama Kun fits with the deep field assembling for Saturday's race, Gothard replied: "We will see. I've never seen an easy graded stakes race."

Gothard, a 75-year-old native of Tokyo, has trained in Kentucky since the mid-1980s. Her best horse to date was K One King, eighth in the 1999 Kentucky Derby. The following spring Gothard and K One King upset the Grade I Oaklawn Handicap at 6-1.

Play the Chime Works at Valhalla

If only every horseman made reporting this easy. The owner of Valhalla Farm in Rockdale, Texas, left a message on the press box voicemail Monday about the gelding owned by his wife, Janelle Jackson: "This is Jim Jackson. I wanted to call and let you know that Play the Chime, a probable for the Texas Mile, worked at Valhalla this morning, three-wide around the track, in :46.41, galloped out in :59, and he will have Larry Taylor aboard."

Play the Chime, a 4-year-old by Fast Play, won a maiden special weight at Sam Houston by 9 ¼ lengths in February. In his next and most recent start, Play the Chime won a first-level allowance in Houston by four lengths, going one mile and 70 yards in 1:44 2/5. Both wins came in gate-to-wire fashion.

Play the Chime is trained by Jaime Castellanos.

Texas Mile Probables

Here's the probable field for Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile, for older horses at one mile (with known jockeys and trainers): Charming Socialite (Bill Pettit), Dominguin (Dante Zanelli Jr.), Halos Sailing Sain (Joe Bravo, Joseph Orseno), High Strike Zone (Ricky Faul, Amos Laborde), Mr. Trieste (Ken Tohill, Gary Cross), Nakayama Kun (Orlando Mojica, Akiko Gothard), Play the Chime (Larry Taylor, Jaime Castellanos), Preachinatthebar (Jon Court, Bob Baffert), Stockholder (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen), Texcess (Cliff Berry, Mike Mitchell) and Yes He's a Pistol (Garrett Gomez, Doug O'Neill).

Possible are Commander Buck, Dreamsandvisions and Wishingitwas.

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