BALTIMORE, Md. – Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Pneumatic arrived at Pimlico early afternoon Tuesday for a start in Saturday’s 145th Preakness Stakes (G1).
As racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds since 1980, David Fiske has seen horses such as Grade 1 winners Untapable, Tapizar and Summerly and graded-stakes winning millionaires Zanjero, Tapiture, Tenfold and Pyro come to hand.
In Pneumatic, who traveled by van from Saratoga, NY, Fiske sees a colt that is just now beginning to realize his potential.
A homebred by champion Uncle Mo out of the Tapit mare Teardrop, Pneumatic went unraced as a 2-year-old, spending time at the El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas owned and operated by Keith and Marilyn Asmussen. Their son, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, is Pneumatic’s trainer.
Pneumatic broke his maiden at first asking Feb. 15 at Oaklawn Park, getting up by a neck while sprinting six furlongs, then beat Captain Bombastic – already a stakes winner who would go on to win two more – his first time facing winners April 11.
“He came out of Laredo pretty highly touted and flashing some talent,” Fiske said.
Pneumatic made his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn (G3), battling for the lead through the Churchill Downs stretch before yielding and running third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths. That effort earned him a date in the June 20 Belmont Stakes (G1), the traditional third leg of the Triple Crown that was shortened to 1 1/8 miles and moved up to the leadoff spot due to the postponements of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness, finishing fourth.
“Like everybody else, we’ve had a little bit of trouble kind of getting our horses where we want them this year,” Fiske said. “The stakes schedule just got put into a blender. We’re talking about the Preakness and it’s the end of September.
“It’s just been hard to get on a schedule and a rhythm and get the right prep races and stepping-stones in place for where you want to be. [Pneumatic] has kind of suffered from that a little bit this year, but he’s doing well so hopefully he’ll run well.”
In his most recent start, Pneumatic rolled to a popular 2 ¼-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus Aug. 15 at Monmouth Park under Joe Bravo, who will return to ride in the Preakness. They drew Post 10 in a field of 11 and were installed at 20-1 on the morning line.
Bravo has ridden in the Preakness four times, his best finish being his most recent, running fifth with Teeth of the Dog in 2012. Pneumatic prepared for the Preakness at the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga, following a bullet five-furlong move in 1:00.85 Sept. 21 with a maintenance half-mile in 50.20 seconds Sept. 28.
“Pneumatic is doing great. He seems to be coming up to the race in great shape,” Fiske said. “He’s typically forwardly placed and he usually breaks well … so we’ll see how it goes.”
Asmussen is also scheduled to saddle Max Player and Excession in his quest to win a third Preakness, having previously been victorious with Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009).
William H. Lawrence’s Preakness contender Liveyourbeastlife arrived by van from Belmont shortly after Pneumatic Tuesday afternoon.
Photo: Pneumatic. Credit: Maryland Jockey Club