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Mystik Dan Comfortable in First Visit to Pimlico Track

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan  made his first trip May 13 to the Pimlico Race Course main track—a sealed and muddy surface—as he prepares for a start in the $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18.

“He’s such a smart horse. He takes everything in,” said Mystik Dan’s regular exercise rider, Robby Albarado. “Obviously, he loved that racetrack. If you saw the Southwest, it was a similar racetrack as this. I’m really not opposed to rain this weekend. Rain is in the forecast.

“He did really well [Monday]. He went over the racetrack smooth and looked around. He’s ready for another round.”

Trained by Kenny McPeek, Mystik Dan won the Southwest Stakes (G3) by eight lengths in early February on a muddy, sealed track at Oaklawn Park.

The retired jockey has ridden two Preakness winners—Curlin   in 2007 and McPeek-trained filly Swiss Skydiver  in 2020—among the 5,222 races he won before retiring in 2021. When arriving at Pimlico Monday morning, he recalled the last time he participated in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

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“It’s been great, especially coming to Pimlico. I stopped by Stall 24 there, where Swiss Skydiver was. It was nice, it was like déjà vu. Me coming here on Monday, like I did with her in 2020,” Albarado said. “It’s just that I’m not riding in the race, but I’m still part of the team.”

While nearing the end of a career in which his mounts earned $221 million in purses, Albarado called on McPeek in his quest to go out in style.

“I called up Kenny McPeek and said, ‘Man, I want to win one more major race before I retire.’ He said, ‘Me, too!’ ” Albarado said. “About a month and a half later, he calls me up and said, ‘Hey, you might ride Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness.’ He called me up five minutes later and said, ‘Pack your stuff up. You’re going to Baltimore.’ I was helping him out at Keeneland. I guess I was there at the right time.”

Swiss Skydiver, who finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) a month earlier, beat the boys in the Preakness, holding off Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic   by a neck.

Albarado was pleased Monday morning with how Mystik Dan, who arrived at Pimlico Sunday, went about his exercise. He jogged the wrong way once around the track before lightly galloping once around the right way under the supervision of assistant trainer Ray Bryner.

Albarado, 50, said Mystik Dan has progressed in the mornings after the son of Goldencents   held off Sierra Leone  by a nose in a blanket finish with Forever Young  to win the May 4 Derby.

“He was kind of beat up. He was body sore from getting bumped around on the first turn and turning for home,” Albarado said. “It was the first time going a mile-and-a-quarter. It takes a toll on them. (May 6) was the first day I got on him (after the Derby). … I’ve seen a progression since then. He’s gotten better and better.”

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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