Greatsilverfleet to operate on Special field

May 11, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

A rejuvenated Greatsilverfleet, who recently underwent successful throat surgery, is primed to take on the East Coast's best older horses in the $600,000 Pimlico Special.

The 4-year-old colt is one of a half-dozen horses, including defending champion Devil His Due, who were entered yesterday to run in Saturday's Grade I event.

Final starters will be named and post positions drawn tomorrow at Pimlico Race Course.

A Maryland-owned or trained horse has yet to win the Pimlico Special since it was revived six years ago.

Greatsilverfleet, a Florida-bred owned by a partnership headed by Arnold Smolen of Baltimore and trained by Dale Capuano at Laurel, and Robert Meyerhoff's Valley Crossing, last year's Maryland-bred horse of the year, are the state's two hopes.

The closest a Maryland horse has come to winning the Special was Valley Crossing's second-place finish last year, a length behind Devil His Due. The Dick Small-trained horse is back for his third try in the Special after spending the winter at Oaklawn Park getting ready for this race.

Andrea Seefeldt will ride Valley Crossing for the first time in the Special. In his previous two attempts -- last year and in 1992, when he finished fifth -- the horse was ridden by Edgar Prado.

Prado rides Greatsilverfleet this year and was on him when he worked a mile in 1 minute, 38 3/5 seconds at Laurel Race Course on Friday. Prado was also aboard when the horse was the beaten second choice in the April 9 John B. Campbell Handicap.

"After that race Edgar came back and said he was making a noise," Capuano said. "He was also lugging in and didn't switch his leads properly. He ran like a tired horse and he was dead fit. They are all the signs of a horse that has displaced his palate."

An operation called a myectomy was performed in the horse's stall at Laurel to correct the condition. It involved cutting a neck muscle so the soft palate won't interfere with the epiglottis.

Since then the horse has worked with gusto. In his first work after the operation, he blazed five furlongs in :59. He later worked the mile in company in 1:38 3/5. "He went the first half in 50 seconds," Capuano said. "Then I had another horse named Celestial River that joined him for the last half mile. Greatsilverfleet went the last half in :48 3/5 and the final quarter in 24 seconds. So it seems the operation was a success.

"If this allows him to run his best race, then I think he should be right up there with these horses."

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