But for the luck of the draw, his owner said, Skip Away might have been wearing the black-eyed Susans in the winner's circle after the 121st running of the Preakness, and Carolyn Hine, a native of Highlandtown, would have been queen for a day in her old hometown.
"If we hadn't drawn the 11th post, all of those other horses would have been looking at Skip Away's rear end down the stretch," said Hine, after her horse ran a game second to long-shot winner Louis Quatorze.
"Someone wrote here the other day that horses coming out of the 11 hole in the Preakness were 0-for-17. I've got a terrific horse, but everyone knows that at Pimlico, you've got to be on the inside to have a real chance."
The joy of finishing second for Carolyn and her husband, Sonny, who has been training horses for almost a half-century, was tempered by what could have been with a more fortuitous draw.
Skip Away experienced similar bad luck in the Kentucky Derby, drawing the 16th post and finishing 12th.
"Winning $149,000 [actually $140,960] today is better than a kick in the leg," said Hine, who now stables his horses in Florida. "But the idea of running these Triple Crown races is winning.
"Still, I know Mr. Ben [Cohen, the late Pimlico owner] is up there smoking a fat cigar, with a Racing Form tucked under his arm, and saying to himself, 'Skip Away, you did your daddy proud today,' " added Hine.
In the late '80s, Hine trained Skip Away's sire, Skip Trial, for Ben Cohen, earning close to $2 million by winning 10 stakes races. Only a month ago in the Blue Grass Stakes, Skip Away, running out of the No. 5 hole, whipped Louis Quatorze by six lengths.
"He just blew him away," said Carolyn Hine.
But yesterday, Skip Away played a futile game of catch-up.
"Give the winner and his jockey [Pat Day] credit," said Hine. "They stole the lead, and we had to get around six horses at the start. We didn't want to get right after Louis Quatorze at the start, or we both would have been burned out.
"The post just killed us. We got parked way out there on the first turn, and Pat Day is tough on the front end. We took our best shot in the stretch; he just had too much to overcome. But I'm still real proud of him."
"My horse broke good like he always does," said Skip Away's jockey, Shane Sellers. "He handled the track fantastic, and I got him into the first turn just like I wanted. But Louis Quatorze got the lead and walked the dog. And he had the Master on his back."
Sonny Hine plans to skip the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
"My horse isn't made to run a mile and a half," he said. "We'll probably point him for the Ohio Derby [June 23]."
For the Hines, Preakness Week was a chance to catch up with old friends and relatives.
"The whole time we were at Cross Keys, our phone didn't stop ringing," said Carolyn. "I heard from relatives I didn't know I had. But the best thing was catching up on the seafood. I almost OD'd on crab cakes."