The racing public is looking forward to the rematch of Unbridled and Summer Squall in the $750,000 Pimlico Special Saturday.
The horsemen are excited about it as well, with one notable exception -- Neil Howard.
Asked if he's looking forward to another meeting with Unbridled, Howard, the trainer of Summer Squall, answered in a flash.
Putting 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and last year's Preakness champion Summer Squall on the same race track for the first time in a year may be great fun for everybody else, but another race against Unbridled is not exactly Howard's idea of fun.
Unbridled, besides beating Summer Squall in the Derby (Summer Squall was second), was 1990's leading 3-year-old male. He blew away champion sprinter Housebuster in his '91 debut. He has earned nearly $4 million.
Howard's horse has won only about $1.5 million -- but he has been raced only eight times. Unbridled has been to the races 14 times.
Still, Summer Squall has won two of the three meetings with Unbridled at level weights.
Is Howard concerned that his colt, having raced only once this year, lacks the seasoning?
"No, he's a seasoned racehorse," the trainer said. "That's not a concern. If we get beat it won't be because of that."
Carl Nafzger, Unbridled's trainer, has a different feeling. He's looking forward to the rematch.
In fact, Nafzger is thrilled with the American Championship Series, 10 races with a bonus for older horses (4 years and up).
"This is what we needed," says Nafzger. "Now it's a lot more advantageous to hold a horse over another year before he goes to the breeding shed. For one thing, you can win $3 million or $4 million this year if you win the Breeders' Cup."
The thing about Summer Squall that worries Nafzger is his "tactical speed." It's a horseman's term for versatility -- having the ability to run close to the lead or off the lead. Says Nafzger: "Any time you have that you have an advantage."
* While observers tend to view this Pimlico Special as a rematch for Unbridled and Summer Squall, some are not picking either to win. They like Jolie's Halo.
Happy Alter, the big and personable trainer of Jolie's Halo, may have added to that in a radio interview yesterday.
"The post position," said Alter, "will determine how much we win by."
Quickly Alter added: "On a serious note, there are many outstanding horses in this race, and the trainer of every one of them has reason to believe his horse will win."
Jolie's Halo is a horse with early speed. Some feel he'll get out front early and lead wire-to-wire.
* Blast fans have to be pleased that the team's Bruce Savage started and played the whole game against Uruguay for the U.S. National Team before 35,000 at Denver. The inclusion of Savage and two other players from the Major Soccer League shows that the new coach of the U.S. team, Bora Milutinovic, has a high regard for indoor players.
* The pairings will be announced Sunday for the 12-team NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament, but if you can't wait, it should look a lot like this:
1) North Carolina, 2) Brown, 3) Princeton, 4) Johns Hopkins, 5) Virginia, 6) Syracuse, 7) Maryland, 8) Loyola, 9) Massachusetts, 10) Towson State, 11) Duke, 12) Michigan State.
That would mean next Wednesday's first-round games would have Michigan State at Virginia, Duke at Syracuse, Towson at Maryland, and UMass at Loyola.
The top four seeds have first-round byes and home field advantage for the quarterfinals May 19.
The quarters should have Loyola at Carolina, Maryland at Brown, Syracuse at Princeton, Virginia at Hopkins. After that anything can happen, especially this season. UMBC proved that last week by beating Maryland.