'Pistols' may give Smith that extra Special feeling

May 10, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

It was a dispirited, mud-splattered Mike Smith who stepped off Holy Bull after the Kentucky Derby favorite finished 18 1/4 lengths behind the winner Saturday.

But the jockey will a chance to redeem himself on another gray horse in Saturday's $600,000 Pimlico Special.

His mount, Pistols and Roses, took a spin around the Pimlico Race Course oval yesterday morning, and it was a quick one.

The 5-year-old horse, with exercise rider Arthur Mayorga aboard, stepped five furlongs in 58 seconds, one of the quicker morning moves track watchers have seen at Pimlico this spring. According to his trainer, George Gianos, the horse finished strong.

"He's been working really well this year, but he was a little more on the muscle than usual [yesterday]," Gianos said. "As soon as we got to the track, a rider fell off of a 2-year-old and the horse was running around loose. That got Pistols and Roses stirred up a little, and when he broke off, he left the pole running. He went the first quarter in 22 1/5, but he still had plenty left and he seemed to come out of the work fine."

Pistols and Roses was third behind Devil His Due and Valley Crossing in last year's Special, but Gianos said he's got a gamer, more consistent runner this year. Last year the horse had an uneven record, turning in one big stakes win followed by lackluster performances where he might get beaten by 15 to 20 lengths.

"Looking back over his record, I decided he was a horse that would do better if I could get him to be more competitive," Gianos said. "You do that by one of two ways -- you work him with another horse or you race him more.

"I ruled out the first way since I don't have a suitable work mate for him in my barn [in Florida]. I have one horse of his caliber that can go with him named Humbugaboo [a track-record setting sprinter], but he might beat him.

"So, I've raced him more. He's been running every two or three weeks this year, a schedule that might be abusive on some horses. But he's thrived on it."

Since Pistols and Roses returned after a layoff last December, he has run eight times in four months, winning or placing in three stakes, including victories in the Donn and Ben Ali handicaps. His has career earnings of $1.6 million.

Smith picked up the mount on Pistols and Roses in his last start in the Ben Ali Handicap, which the horse won by a neck over Sunny Sunrise.

Given the horse's recent races and his fast workout yesterday, Gianos hopes "Smith won't look so dejected this Saturday."

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