JOCKEY Unable to find mount, McCarron follows tip to winner's circle

May 17, 1992|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

A week ago, Chris McCarron didn't expect even to be on the Pimlico Race Course grounds on Preakness Day.

Yesterday, he wound up in the winner's circle.

For McCarron, one of thoroughbred racing's most accomplished jockeys, victory aboard Pine Bluff in the 117th Preakness Stakes was not the first time a Preakness has had a happy ending. McCarron was also the winning jockey here in 1987, riding Alysheba.

This victory may have been sweeter. It certainly was stranger.

"I'm really so lucky to be here," said McCarron, looking tired and happy in his mud-splattered silks.

The story of McCarron's winning ride actually began a week ago at Pimlico with a conversation between the veteran jockey and Tim Capps, a Pimlico vice president of racing and public relations.

Capps wanted to know which horse McCarron would be riding in yesterday's second jewel of the Triple Crown. And McCarron told the truth. He said he didn't have a mount and probably would not be in the race.

Then McCarron received probably the best tip offered this week at Pimlico. "Tim said he'd just heard a little thing that Pine Bluff might be open. That pricked my ears right away," McCarron said.

McCarron and Capps had their conversation at about 8 o'clock. At 9:30, McCarron said, he was on the telephone to Tom Bohannan, Pine Bluff's trainer, to see whether the horse indeed might need a jockey.

Oddly, Bohannan was having a tough time finding a rider. Craig Perret rode Pine Bluff in the Kentucky Derby, but accepted an offer to ride Alydeed in Baltimore. Bohannan then spoke to jockey Mike Smith, who rode Big Sur in yesterday's race.

L When McCarron talked to Bohannan, the news was not all good.

"Tom said he didn't think [he'd need McCarron], that he'd talked to Mike, and that he thought he'd be able to get off Big Sur. But then he said if it didn't work out with Mike he'd love to have me," McCarron said.

As it turned out, Smith stayed with Big Sur and Bohannan accepted McCarron's offer to guide Pine Bluff. It was a decision that everybody in the winner's circle seemed thrilled about yesterday.

"Chris performed like the great rider he is," said John Ed Anthony, owner of the Preakness winner. "He got every ounce there was out of that horse."

McCarron said he was happy and grateful and most of all, lucky to be there.

Multiple winners

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Jockeys who have won the Preakness three or more times:

Jockey .. .. .. .. .. Year .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Horse

Eddie Arcaro .. .. .. 1941 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . Whirlaway

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1948 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Citation

.. .. .... .. .. .. . 1950 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Hill Prince

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1951 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Bold

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1955 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . Nashua

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1957 .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Bold Ruler

Bill Hartack .. .. .. 1956 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... Fabius

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1964 .. .. .. .. .. . Northern Dancer

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1969 .. .. .. .. .. . Majestic Prince

G. Barbee .. .. .. .. 1873 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Survivor

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1876 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Shirley

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1883 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Jacobus

L. Hughes .. .. .. .. 1875 .. .. .. .. .. ... Tom Ochiltree

.. .. .. .. .. .. ....1879 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . Harold

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1880 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Grenada

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