The last time a Preakness winner returned to run at Pimlico Race Course was in 1988, when 1987 Preakness winner Alysheba ran in the Pimlico Special.
And now Summer Squall is here.
But he has had just one sprint since a layoff, and trainer Neil Howard has found himself defending that strategy in the days leading up to today's Pimlico Special.
When a horse has been away, conditioning always comes into question. Another factor to consider is the horse's tendency to show more early speed than might otherwise be expected. Howard, however, expects Summer Squall not to be overly anxious in the early going.
"I think if our horse lays in like he usually does, the key is that he isn't too keen," Howard said. "I want him to lay there in a contending position, but doing it relaxed."
* One of the most impressive races of the year came from Jolie's Halo when he won the Donn Handicap, the first event in the 10-race American Racing Championship Series. The colt led at every call and won by a widening eight lengths.
"No pitcher goes out and throws a no-hitter every time, and it would be hard for horses to duplicate the Donn Handicap performance," said Happy Alter, trainer of Jolie's Halo. "That's what we have to hope for, that race, that type of effort."
* All was quiet yesterday on the Preakness front. Olympio is the only prospective starter scheduled to breeze today. The colt will work a mile shortly after 6 a.m., trainer Ron McAnally said.