Gomez replaces Jara on Like Now

Updated: May 18, 2006, 12:00 PM ET
By Mike Farrell | Associated Press

BALTIMORE - Veteran Garrett Gomez will replace 18-year-old Fernando Jara aboard Like Now in the $1 million Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin announced the switch Wednesday for the 12-1 shot on the morning line in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

McLaughlin said the change was a decision by owner John J. Dillon.

"The owner wanted a more experienced rider," McLaughlin said. "If we could get a top rider, he wanted him."

Jara had been aboard for the last seven starts which produced four wins, including the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct. Like Now most recently ran second in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 22.

"There was no real reason to switch," McLaughlin said. "The kid hadn't done anything wrong, in my opinion, but the owner pays the bills and I said, 'Yes sir, we will get the best available."'

Gomez, 34, leads all riders in earnings this year with over $7 million. This will be his second Preakness mount. He was third with Concern in 1994.

No Preakness for Ah Day
The stakes were too high for Ah Day to make the Preakness.

The gelding wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown, and the supplement fee was $100,000. Trainer and co-owner King Leatherbury said for more than a week that the middle jewel of the Triple Crown was under consideration for the winner of Pimlico's Tesio Stakes on April 22.

At the deadline Wednesday, Ah Day wasn't among the nine entrants.

The supplement fee was a hurdle Leatherbury and the Malibu Moon partnership didn't clear.

"Basically, the money fell through," Leatherbury said.

Leatherbury's partners own Malibu Moon, Ah Day's sire. They wanted to run Ah Day in the Preakness as a way to promote the sire but the cost proved prohibitive.

"They said they weren't going to do it," Leatherbury said. "That decision was made for me, because I certainly wasn't going to put up $100,000."

Ah Day will run instead on the Preakness undercard in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Bernardini's trainer checking the forecast
Trainer Tom Albertrani had his ear glued to the radio earlier this week, listening to "every single weather report" for the New York area.

Albertrani hoped give Bernardini his final Preakness workout Tuesday at Belmont Park.

Persistent rain wouldn't let up that morning, so Albertrani kept the horse winner in the barn.

The weather cleared up Wednesday and Bernardini went 1:01.28 for five furlongs on the track listed as muddy.

"It was very good work," Albertrani said. "The track was in good shape. There was some moisture in it, but it wasn't heavy."

The lightly raced Bernardini is one of the fresh faces in the Triple Crown hoping to derail Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

"We're really hoping that Barbaro might be a little vulnerable with just two weeks rest," Albertrani said. "If you're going to beat him, this might be the time to try it."

Bernardini has won two straight, including the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct, and will be making his fourth lifetime start.

Albertrani, who will be saddling his first Preakness runner, was in the midst of a hectic schedule. After supervising the workout at Belmont, he headed to Baltimore for the post-position selections Wednesday night. He was scheduled to return to New York to supervise the colt's training Thursday.

Bernardini, 8-1, is slated to van to Pimlico on Friday.

Taking a long shot
A quick workout by Greeley's Legacy persuaded trainer George Weaver to give the outsider a Preakness shot.

Greeley's Legacy went a quick five furlongs in 58.69 at Belmont on Sunday.

Greeley's Legacy could become legendary if he pulls off the Preakness upset at 20-1 on the morning line. He is 2-for-11 lifetime and hasn't been better than fourth in three stakes races.

"I don't think you can get any harder test," Weaver said. "I have the utmost respect for Barbaro, and Bernardini and Brother Derek. We're asking our horse to step up to the plate and run the race of his life. We want to find out how he fits with these guys. I don't think you could ask more out of a horse than to try to run against those bears in there."

Greeley's Legacy will be the first Triple Crown starter for Weaver. The 35-year-old Louisville native was an assistant to Todd Pletcher before opening his own stable in November 2002.

Preakness television coverage begins Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press