Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee and the two Derby runners-up, Casual Lies and Dance Floor, arrived yesterday at Pimlico Race Course looking fresh, relaxed and none the worse for wear after a 1-hour, 20-minute flight from Louisville, Ky.
They seemed to have come out of the grueling 1 1/4 -mile Derby in surprisingly good shape.
But the bottom line is this: The Preakness is going to be a vastly different horse race than the Derby, and they'd better have their running shoes on Saturday.
The new ingredient is speed, and "the horse everyone is looking at is Alydeed," said Lynn Whiting, trainer of Lil E. Tee.
There was no true speed horse in the Derby, and the result was a plodding, lethargic pace.
A field of 14 horses, the first full Preakness field since 1970, is expected to be entered on Thursday. Seven of those horses ran in the Derby.
One of the seven newcomers is Alydeed, a front-runner who won the Derby Trial by three lengths and is expected to boost the Preakness tempo.
He and Maryland-based Speakerphone are the new shooters that should ensure a faster pace.
"If you have any fears or anxieties, it's running against a horse you haven't run against before," Whiting said. "Alydeed is the new kid on the block. He is lightly raced and fresh. But that is also a double-edged sword. He has only run four times, and doesn't have much seasoning."
Alydeed arrived from Canada yesterday after several days of haggling by officials over whether he can race in Maryland on Lasix (he can) and after he was pulled out of two other races, the Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park and the Queenston Stakes at Woodbine Race Course.
His trainer, Roger Attfield, arrives today to supervise the colt's Preakness preparation.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas thinks his horse Dance Floor, who hung on gamely to finish third in the Derby, is "the now horse" in the Preakness field.
"He is very, very sharp, and he didn't lose any weight after the Derby," he said. "They all show some wear and tear after that race, but this is one horse that didn't. I'm really pleased with his recovery. I think he's right at the right time."
Then, Lukas added, "Alydeed might also fit that description."
Whiting said Lil E. Tee has had a light to moderate training schedule since his upset Derby win. "He doesn't need much training after two races at 1 1/8 miles [the Jim Beam Stakes and Arkansas Derby] and one at 1 1/4 miles [Kentucky Derby]," Whiting said.
Winning Derby rider Pat Day will fly in tomorrow to work the colt a half mile, "probably in 47 [seconds] and change," Whiting said.
Shelley Riley, owner-trainer of Casual Lies, said she received a lot of attention at the Derby "because I'm an oddity. Now I think most of the attention will be on my horse."
Riley, who purchased Casual Lies for $7,500, trained her horse at fairgrounds in Northern California en route to its second-place Derby finish.
Riley was so excited at the Derby that she passed out after Casual Lies passed the finish line.
"My mother, who is southern lady from North Carolina, told me to tell reporters I was overcome by the heat," she said.