The prospective Preakness field gained another front-running candidate yesterday when New York trainer Bruce Levine said he intends to start Koluctoo Jimmy Al.
The quick New York-bred, 6 1/2 -length winner of the Cahill Road Stakes at Aqueduct in wire-to-wire fashion on April 17, joins Personal Hope and Cherokee Run as possible Preakness pacesetters.
These three horses plus Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero -- as well as Prairie Bayou, Wild Gale, Union City, El Bakan and Woods of Windsor -- are considered likely starters.
Four other horses -- Diazo, Grand Jewel, Rockamundo and P. J. Higgins -- could join the lineup, but so far their trainers are mum.
Apparently, none of the first three finishers in the Withers Stakes at Belmont Park yesterday is Preakness-bound. Bill Finley of the New York Daily News said that none of the trainers of Williamstown, who broke the Withers Stakes record, or runners-up Virginia Rapids or Farmonthefreeway, expressed any intent to try the Pimlico race.
Levine said that he has been pointing Koluctoo Jimmy Al for the Preakness since the Cahill Road victory. The horse, carrying 116 pounds, ran nine furlongs in 1 minute, 48 seconds, two-fifths of a second faster than Storm Tower's winning time a couple of races later in the Wood Memorial. Storm Tower, however, carried 126 pounds.
"I was either thinking of the Preakness or the Peter Pan Stakes [at Belmont Park], but the horse is training terrific and kind of made the decision for me," Levine said. "In my heart, I think we have a huge shot to win [the Preakness]. We have one of the highest speed figures of any 3-year-old this year. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The real Sea Hero, the one that won the Champagne Stakes here last fall, showed up in the Kentucky Derby. But still, it wasn't a very fast race. If there is one thing I'd say my horse lacks, though, it's seasoning. He's only run a distance of ground three times [winning twice]."
Pat Day rode Koluctoo Jimmy Al in the Cahill Road Stakes, but Levine said he doesn't yet have a Preakness rider.
The horse is owned by restaurateur Basil Plasteras, proprietor of the Squires Pub near Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., and two of his friends, Ralph Rapisardi and John Tisakiris.
Koluctoo Jimmy Al is named after a bartender in Plasteras' restaurant.
Woods of Windsor is scheduled to become the first Preakness horse to arrive on the Pimlico grounds today when he ships over from the Bowie Training Center. He is scheduled to have a six-furlong workout, with jockey Rick Wilson up, tomorrow, the same day Koluctoo Jimmy Al and Rockamundo plan to arrive.
Paseana out of distaff
Champion mare Paseana will not run Saturday in the Pimlico Distaff.
Yesterday, trainer Ron McAnally said "I talked to Mr. [Sidney] Craig [the horse's owner], and we're going to pass. I looked at the weights [126 pounds] and decided we've got to go where we have the best chance and the best weights. Also, she's not a big, rugged mare and needs more time between races."
Last year's Distaff winner, Wilderness Song, is the second high weight at 121 pounds, but trainer Jimmy Day has not yet announced his plans for the mare.
Roger Attfield, trainer of Alydeed, is sending a division of horses to race at the Maryland tracks this summer. Attfield's assistant, Holly Robinson, is expected to arrive with a half dozen here tomorrow and will augment those horses with another five or six next week. The Attfield horses will be based at Laurel. . . . Stakes-placed Darinka has been sold. The new owner is William R. Harris of Richmond, Va. The filly will stay in trainer Mert Bailes' barn at Bowie. Even though she is nominated to the Pimlico Distaff, Bailes said she probably won't run. . . . McAnally said that last-place Kentucky Derby finisher Tossofthecoin has now joined his string at Hollywood Park, but he has yet to assess what he plans to do with the colt, who bled in the race.