Six-time Preakness Winner

May 03, 1992|By JOHN STEADMAN

Never has a rider in a major race left such a glowing legacy as the Eddie Arcaro imprint on the Preakness. Six wins, more than any jockey in history. He made 15 trips in the Preakness and was in the money on 12 occasions.

"Part of it was luck," he says. "But don't forget I was on some pretty darn good horses."

The honor roll of Preakness champions and Arcaro began with Whirlaway in 1941. Then Citation in 1948, Hill Prince in 1950, Bold in 1951, Nashua in 1955 and Bold Ruler in 1957 -- which was almost five years before he retired and stepped into the Racing Hall of Fame.

He made his first Preakness appearance in 1935 with a filly, Nellie Flag, finishing seventh to Omaha, who was to be America's third Triple Crown winner. Now 75 and an avid golfer in Miami Beach, Arcaro recently shared these thoughts on some of his Preakness successes.

* Whirlaway. "I was farther back than I wanted to be. He put in a run that was unbelievable. He must have been 30 lengths off the lead. I couldn't see that far. We went from last to first. Ben Jones, the trainer, had put a blinker on his right eye to keep him from running wide and swerving on the turns. It had worked in the Derby and it did in Baltimore. The best thing that could have happened, in retrospect is we got off badly.

"Jones told me, 'He has one run in him,' no more. That's his action. Whirlaway ran so fast coming from behind in the Preakness it scared me. I believe I told the writers that I felt as if I had been shot from a gun and likened the ride to being picked up by a blinding tornado."

* Citation. "He won everything in the world. Only three horses showed up to race him in the Preakness. Ben Jones said he was better than Man O' War. He could make any kind of a race. Why, as a 3-year-old he won 19 out of 20 and lost only one, when a tiring horse got in the way and carried him outside at Havre de Grace, which allowed Saggy to beat him. In the Preakness, he led start to finish. I only had to use the whip twice to keep him interested."

* Bold. "I didn't want to ride him. The other jocks were telling me terrible stories, about how he would turn his head and run into fences. But that day he kept his mind on business, for which I was glad. He won by seven lengths. Alerted, ridden by Sammy Boulmetis, a Baltimore jock, came at us but Bold finished strong and had a lot left at the finish."

* Nashua. "I screwed up on Nashua in the Kentucky Derby. I hadn't figured Swaps was that good. But he showed me. Then I squared the account when they made that match race in Chicago and Nashua beat Swaps by six lengths. I busted Swaps that day. But in the Preakness, when we didn't get a shot at Swaps -- who didn't run in Baltimore -- we won by a length. He was the kind of horse who didn't always want to keep his mind on the job."

Many people have a stake in the Preakness that is more than financial. They have gems of memories that increase in value over the years.

For six mini-profiles appearing throughout this section, veteran sports writer John Steadman has tracked down participants and fans who will always cherish their Preakness experiences.

Mr. Steadman has covered every Preakness since 1958. He was the Baltimore News-American's sports editor for 28 years and joined The Evening Sun as a columnist in 1986. The name Steadman, he says, is from the Gaelic for steed man, one who cares for horses.

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