Jerkens is the giant to knock off in Special Will 'Devil' give upset king his due? PREAKNESS '93 118TH PREAKNESS

May 15, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

"Jerkens the Giant Killer" will be on display today in the $600,000 Pimlico Special.

Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens earned that sobriquet after he twice beat Secretariat with long shots Onion and Prove Out and upset champion Buckpasser with Handsome Boy in the 1967 Brooklyn Handicap.

But instead of running a long shot and trying to upset the favorite, Jerkens has "the chalk" in today's race, the 4-year-old colt Devil His Due.

Although he finished 12th in last year's Kentucky Derby, the colt has blossomed, winning his past two starts in the Gulfstream Park and Excelsior handicaps.

"He is strictly the horse to beat," said Nick Zito, trainer of Strike the Gold, winner of the Pimlico Special a year ago and the Kentucky Derby victor in 1991.

Through the early betting yesterday, Strike the Gold was the slight betting favorite over Devil His Due.

Zito knows it's going to take quite an effort by his horse in a small, six-horse field to get up in time on the speed-favoring racetrack.

But Zito predicted: "He'll find a way."

The expected pacesetter in the Special is a local runner, Ibex, who will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, the New York-based jockey who swept both the Black-Eyed Susan and Early Times Dixie stakes yesterday and rides Prairie Bayou in the Preakness.

Pistols and Roses, currently tied with Missionary Ridge as the leader in the American Championship Racing Series, is expected to press the pace. It is the gray colt's first Pimlico start. He was shipped here to run in the Preakness last year, but was pulled out of the race after he injured an ankle.

Missionary Ridge was not entered in the Special.

Pistols and Roses currently has four more points than Devil His Due in the ACRS standings and will win the $300,000 mid-series bonus if he can out-finish Devil His Due.

Other starters in the Special include local colt Valley Crossing and Conte Di Savoya, the fourth-place finisher in the 1992 Kentucky Derby who has never won a stakes.

Eight of the 11 races on today's Preakness card will be run at distances of 1 1/16th miles or longer, putting an emphasis on stamina rather than speed.

Purses for the 11 races total $1,721,900, a Preakness and Maryland record for one card.

SPECIAL WINNERS

The winners of the Pimlico Special since the race was revived in 1988 after a 29-year layoff:

Year ...... Winner

1988 ...... Bet Twice

1989 ...... Blushing John

1990 ...... Criminal Type

1991 ...... Farma Way

1992 ...... Strike the Gold

ACRS AT A GLANCE

What: American Championship Racing Series, a nine-race series for older horses

Point system: First place, 10 points; second place, 7; third place, 5; fourth place, 3; fifth place, 1.

Mid-series bonus: $300,000 (presented today after Pimlico Special)

Final series bonus: $900,000 (presented Sept. 18 after Woodward Stakes)

Point leaders

Horse ........ ........ Points

Pistols and Roses ....... 15

Missionary Ridge ........ 15

Devil His Due ........... 11

Latin American .......... 10

Irish Swaps (deceased) ... 8

Offbeat ....... .......... 7

Memo .......... .......... 5

Sir Beaufort ...... ...... 3

Chief Honcho ...... ...... 3

Reign Road ........ ...... 1

Race results

Donn Handicap (Feb. 20): 1. Pistols and Roses; 2. Irish Swap; 3. Missionary Ridge; 4. Chief Honcho; 5. Devil His Due

Gulfstream Park Handicap (March 14): 1. Devil His Due; 2. Offbeat; 3. Pistols and Roses; 4. Missionary Ridge; 5. Irish Swap

The Californian (April 24): 1. Latin American; 2. Missionary Ridge; 3. Memo; 4. Sir Beaufort; 5. Reign Road

Remainder of schedule

Date ..... Race ..... ..... Track

Today .. Pimlico Special .. Pimlico

6/5 .... Nassau County .... Belmont

........ Handicap ......... Park

7/3 .... Hollywood ........ Hollywood

........ Gold Cup ......... Park

7/24 .. Philip H. Iselin .. Monmouth

........ Handicap ......... Park

8/21 ... Pacific Classic .. Del Mar

9/18 ... Woodward ......... Belmont

........ Stakes ........... Park

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