Alydeed looks like the horse Arazi should have been.
The handsome, 16.3-hand colt is the "sexy" horse in the Preakness field, the one animal that might cause bettors to lose their senses and splurge on a relative unknown.
Lil E. Tee might have won the Kentucky Derby and has a cuddly name, but Alydeed wins hands down in the charisma department.
It's no secret that Craig Perret, winner of the Pimlico Special last weekend on Strike the Gold, says Alydeed is the best 3-year-old around and plans to stay with him through the rest of the year's big races.
Perret has abandoned such horses as Pine Bluff and Dash For Dotty for the big Canadian runner and flew to Pimlico Race Course to ride him in yesterday's morning calisthenics.
Alydeed turned in the most impressive drill of any of the entrants, running five-eighths of a mile in 58 2/5 seconds. He looked as if he were merely out to stretch his legs.
The colt has such star quality that people were saying afterward that Alydeed might even be the Preakness favorite.
That's a bit of a stretch, especially because the horse has run only four races.
"I think people are attracted to him because they are looking for something that's unknown," said Roger Attfield, the horse's trainer. "He has a lot of natural talent. He shows it in his works and his races. Professionals in the business notice the horse and talk about him.
"But he still has to prove he can win going around two turns and that he can carry 126 pounds. Potentially he has more ability than any other horse I've trained, but he's got to go out and do it.
"Even his owners [Donald Wilmot and his sons David and Michael] think he might only be a brilliant miler. Can he go farther than that? That's one thing we're going to find out Saturday."
Attfield, four times Canada's leading trainer, has saddled more than100 stakes winners and earned $22.5 million in purses for the Wilmots' Kinghaven Farm in six years. He has won Canada's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds twice, first with With Approval and then Izvestia.
Attfield said he recognized Alydeed's ability as soon as he started breezing him at his winter headquarters at Payson Park in Indian Creek, Fla. as a 2-year-old. "The other 2-year-olds couldn't even keep up with him galloping," Attfield said. "Then I started working him with older horses, and he was destroying them.
"That's why I ran him in a stakes first time out when I returned to Canada last year."
Alydeed won the Victoria Stakes in his first start, beating eventual Canadian champion 2-year-old Free at Last by 3 1/4 lengths.
After that, Alydeed underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove knee chips and didn't compete again until this spring.
He won at Gulfstream Park in 1 minute, 9 3/5 seconds for six furlongs, but then disappointed as the 2-5 favorite in the What A Pleasure Stakes in his next start, at 1 1/16 miles.
Attfield attributes the horse's first defeat to a lung infection, "and also bled a little," he said.
Alydeed then won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on Lasix for the first time, and now attempts the Preakness in just his fifth start.
Even though Alydeed has a lot of natural speed, Attfield said he doesn't plan for the horse to be on the lead in the Preakness. "But he might be," Attfield said. "What it comes down to is how the race unfolds after the break and what Craig Perret decides to do."
Attfield says that for such a lightly raced colt, the Preakness "is a tall order."
But, he added, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think he could do it."