Jose D’Angelo admits that rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob Baffert and Kenny McPeek gave him a thrill at the Preakness Stakes – and he’s taking Jesus’ Team straight to the Breeders’ Cup for more of the same next month.
Jesus’ Team finished third best in the Preakness at Pimlico, no match for Swiss Skydiver and Authentic, but nonetheless running a fine race for D’Angelo and owners Grupo 7C Racing.
Having resided at McPeek’s Magdalena Farm in Lexington since the weekend, Jesus’ Team will depart for Keeneland on Friday to begin his Breeders’ Cup countdown.
“He will run in the Breeders’ Cup, 100 per cent,” said trainer D’Angelo. “We just don’t know what race – maybe the [Dirt] Mile or maybe the Classic. I will wait for the decision from the owners.”
McPeek sent out the winner Swiss Skydiver as she gallantly held off Authentic by a head to grab the $600,000 purse, becoming the first filly since Rachel Alexandra in 2009 to win the race.
The Preakness-winning trainer had no qualms assisting D’Angelo this week in hosting Jesus’ Team.
“Always after his races, for Jesus, I give him four or five days in a roll pen or a little paddock. At Keeneland, they don’t have that. So I called Kenny McPeek and he said, ‘Hey, come on, bring your horse,'” said D’Angelo, whose first Preakness starter was stabled next to Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness Stakes Barn.
“He’s relaxing and enjoying his days off at Magdalena Farm.
“On Friday, we’ll move him to Keeneland again and start jogging and galloping him slow for a week. He’ll have two or three works for the Breeders’ Cup. The horse came back from the Preakness very good.”
D’Angelo is rising fast having saddled his maiden US winner at Gulfstream Park in 2019 after becoming champion trainer in his native Venezuela. He then joined his father, Francisco, in taking out a license in the United States.
To make it into the Preakness frame with his first runner was a thrill, as it was to mix it with iconic trainers like Baffert at Pimlico in the lead-up to the race.
“It was an amazing experience, spending one week with the stars of training, like Bob Baffert and Kenny McPeek,” said D’Angelo, whose stable is based at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility. “I’m very, very proud of my work and my team for the third in the Preakness.
“I had confidence in Jesus before the race. I knew he was in good condition.”