When Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 at Pimlico yesterday, the trainer's eyes lit up.
"There's your Preakness winner," he said.
Oh, this was not Nick Zito, trainer of the Derby winner. This was Leon Blusiewicz, the longtime Maryland-based trainer.
Blusiewicz is a good friend of Zito's. He also knows this year's top 3-year-olds. He saddled Tong Po, who won the $175,000 Tesio Stakes in March but then was sidelined by a shin injury.
"Strike the Gold had a great work," Blusiewicz said. "You gotta like him in the Preakness. He had the worst trip in the Derby. Eight horses wide and he still won.
"He didn't run a mile and a quarter in Louisville. He ran a mile and three-sixteenths. With a much smaller field here he should do even better."
Also pleased with Strike the Gold's work was the man on his back, Chris Antley, who also rode him to victory in the 117th Derby.
"This work couldn't have been any better," enthused Antley, who broke in as a jockey at Pimlico in 1983.
"I liked this work better than the workout before the Kentucky Derby," Antley added. "He handled the track here great. I think he's ready to run a big race. To win here, where I started, would be special. The Kentucky Derby is behind me now. We're the only one that can win the Triple Crown."
Zito, a personable New Yorker from Queens, also was impressed with Strike the Gold's workout.
"He's a wonderful horse," Zito said, "and he's got a strong will and he'll get there."
* Wayne Lukas, who is getting Corporate Report ready for Saturday's 116th Preakness, is another of the many trainers who's high on his own horse. Lukas liked his colt's workout (six furlongs in 1:11 1/5) yesterday.
"He has a beautiful kick in the stretch," said Lukas. "He was jumping 30 feet out there today. He's a Farma Way-Summer Squall type horse."
If he is, he's in classy company. Farma Way won the $750,000 Pimlico Special last Saturday and is a strong candidate for Horse the Year. Summer Squall won last year's Preakness.
* If you haven't yet become nostalgic about the closing of Memorial Stadium, chances are you will when you hear Brent Hardesty's "The Night the Lights Went Out on 33rd Street."
Hardesty, the music teacher at Calvert School, wrote and sung the song, which we're going to hear a lot of over the summer. Hardesty, a Towson State graduate, is a veteran piano man and vocalist at local lounges and clubs. Baltimore baseball fans are going to find this tune touching.
* While Orioles fans reel over the club's inability to hold on to a 4-1 lead in its latest game despite employing its two ace pitchers, Ben McDonald and Gregg Olson, they also note the success of Houston's new stopper, Orioles castoff Curt Schilling. Schilling leads the Astros with five saves. Olson has four.
"Schilling has a good temperament for the job," says Houston manager Art Howe. "He's sort of a righthander inside a lefthander's body."
* The upcoming NCAA lacrosse playoffs will be the swan song at Johns Hopkins for trainer John Bielawski. After 13 years of taking care of Blue Jays athletes, he'll take over at the end of next month as director of the George Bennett Sports Medicine Institute at Children's Hospital.
"John has done a terrific job at Hopkins," said the school's athletic director, Bob Scott, "but this is a great opportunity for him."
* Amazingly, none of the 12 teams in the NCAA Division I tournament, which begins tomorrow, is unhappy with the draw. The institution that may have been hurt most is the NCAA.
With the semifinals and finals being played at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse May 25 and 27, it is vital to the financial success of the tournament that Syracuse be in the Final Four. It's also helpful to have Hopkins in it, because Blue Jays followers will travel.
But it will be impossible for the two best drawing teams in the game -- Syracuse and Hopkins -- to be there. They will meet here Sunday in the quarterfinals, assuming that the Orange defeats Michigan State tomorrow.