TIGER WALK

The Preakness would be the fourth straight start in a graded stakes for Tiger Walk, a Tale of the Cat colt who is still seeking his first victory of 2012.

Owned by Kevin Plank of Maryland-based Sagamore Farm, Tiger Walk came from off the pace to close for fourth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths by Gemologist in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 21.

In his two prior starts this year, also at Aqueduct, Tiger Walk was no factor finishing fourth to 2011 juvenile champion Hansen in the Grade 3 Gotham, and third behind Wood Memorial runner-up Alpha in the Grade 3 Withers.

After finishing off the board in a pair of turf starts at Saratoga Race Course last summer to start his career, Tiger Walk captured back-to-back one-mile races at Laurel Park in the fall, the second in mid-December in his first try on dirt.

Tiger Walk shares his name with the pre-game ritual for Auburn University’s football games, where Tigers players walk to the stadium through the legions of fans that line up along Donohue Drive. The football team is outfitted by Under Armour, which was founded and is owned by Plank.

THE LUMBER MAN

After tiring to finish fifth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, New York’s top prep race for the Kentucky Derby, the gray son of recently deceased sire Grand Slam rebounded with a convincing gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap.

Named for thoroughbred owner Aaron Jones, who made his fortune in the lumber business in Oregon, The Lumber Guy led at every call in the Jerome, drawing away to win by 2 ¾ lengths after running a mile in 1:36.04

The April 21 Jerome came just two weeks after The Lumber Guy suffered his first career defeat in the 1 1/ 8-mile Wood, where he set the pace before tiring to fifth behind Gemologist.

Bred in New York by owner Barry K. Schwartz, The Lumber Guy opened his career with back-to-back sprint victories this winter by a combined 13 ½ lengths, including the $76,000 Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park on February 25. In the weeks following the race, he developed a quarter crack, which was successfully treated by noted hoof specialist Ian McKinlay.

The last of three New York-breds to win the Preakness was Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide in 2003.

ISN’T HE CLEVER

A gelded gray son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, Isn’t He Clever was off the board for only the second time in eight lifetime starts when eighth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14.

Isn’t He Clever won three of his first four races sprinting at his base in New Mexico before beginning his 3-year-old season in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita on Feb. 4. He ran fifth, but was placed fourth via disqualification. Three weeks later, he rolled to a 1 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 Borderland Derby in his return to Sunland Park. On March 25, he carried the lead into deep stretch before being outfinished by new stablemate Daddy Nose Best in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, crossing the wire second by less than a length, despite a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

In the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, Isn’t He Clever was within striking distance running fifth by just over three lengths after a half-mile, but came up empty in the stretch and was a distant eighth behind the impressive Bodemeister.

Isn’t He Clever was purchased for $45,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.