This year’s Kentucky Derby saw ramifications that bleed into this weekend’s Preakness Stakes. There was the controversial finish: Country House beat Maximum Security after the latter was disqualified for bumping War of Will.
Maximum Security owner Gary West is sitting the horse out of spite, while Country House is out due to illness. That leaves new contenders such as Alwaysmining (currently 5-to-1 odds) for an open avenue to victory.
The brown gelding is local to Pimilico Race Course in Baltimore, winning six in a row at nearby Laurel Park. Like fellow contender Owendale, Alwaysmining carries the DNA of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini.
It’s this success that jockey Daniel Centeno, trainer Kelly Rubley and the ownership group Runnymede Racing is looking to replicate. Let’s meet them.
Alwaysmining Jockey: Daniel Centeno
Centeno is originally from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Per his Go HorseBetting bio, he moved to the United States in 2003 and hit big in the horse racing scene in Tampa (Fla.).
According to America’s Best Racing, Centeno has won the Tampa Bay Derby twice in his career with Musket Man in 2009 and Ring Weekend in 2014. These are the biggest prizes from a nearly $56 million career of earnings.
Out of the six recent wins at Laurel Park, Centeno was the rider for the last three. He expressed extreme confidence in the horse’s abilities.
“He’s doing better and better every race and gaining more confidence,” Centeno said said this past March to Paulick Report. “We’re going to find out more about him when he runs against better horses, but this horse can run. He’s smart, he’s professional and he does everything right. You can pretty much do whatever you want with him, and Kelly is doing a great job keeping him sound and fit and sharp.”
The two clinched a berth in the Preakness Stakes with a “Win and you’re in” victory at Federico Tesio Stakes.
Alwaysmining Trainer: Kelly Rubley
One of the better stories at the 2019 Preakness is Kelly Rubley. Not only is she a former middle school science teacher turned elite trainer, she has the chance to be the first-ever female to train a Preakness winner. Is she thinking about it?
“Not at all,” she said earlier this week to Baltimore Press Box. “There are a lot of great, talented women working in this industry. It is exciting and I’m glad to be part of it.”
Press Box also notes that: “There have been 15 women trainers to bring horses to the Preakness before. The last was Linda Rice with Kid Cruz in 2014. The best finish was by the late Nancy Alberts, second with Magic Weisner in 2002.”
Per America’s Best Racing, she is just in her fifth full season as a standalone trainer. She has already earned over $5 million.
After serving as an assistant trainer for (Barclay) Tagg and for James Toner, she began her own training career in 2014. Rubley, based at Fair Hill in Maryland, won her first graded stakes in summer 2018 when veteran turf campaigner Divisidero took the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap.
What a mid-career move. Paulick Report writes that: “The Pulaski (N.Y.) native graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry, later earning Master’s degrees in secondary education and administration.”
Alwaysmining Owner: Greg & Caroline Bentley
The owners that put their trust in Rubley and Centeno were Greg and Caroline Bentley of Runnymede Racing LLC. Their Coatesville (Pa.) farm is over 550 acres.
Greg is the CEO of Bentley Systems in Exton, Pa. He was looking for a hobby, and went into steeplechasing with Caroline two decades ago. The focus shifted to flat racing in 2014, according to Bloodhorse.
With a Maryland-bred horse, Caroline talked to Bloodhorse how she wants to have the first local horse to win the Preakness since 1983.
“We feel like we’ve been carrying the flag for Maryland,” she said, “and we’re here for Maryland.