Baffert tandem Preakness-bound Derby winner 'Quiet,' 'Charlie' are expected

May 04, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Marylanders can brace for a double dose of Bob Baffert when the nation's best young horses assemble May 16 at Pimlico for the 123rd Preakness Stakes.

Real Quiet, winner of the Kentucky Derby, and Indian Charlie, the third-place finisher, will run in the Preakness as long as they're doing well, Baffert said yesterday outside his barn at Churchill Downs.

Baffert became the sixth trainer to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys when Real Quiet, the 8-1 half of Baffert's two entrants, scored a half-length triumph Saturday over the fast-closing Victory Gallop. Baffert's Indian Charlie, the 5-2 favorite, finished third, losing for the first time in five starts.

Real Quiet's time of 2 minutes, 2 1/5 seconds for the 1 1/4 miles was fair for a track as fast as Churchill Downs was Saturday. But the quarter-mile fractions were the opposite of Secretariat's 25 years earlier.

When Secretariat set the Kentucky Derby mark of 1: 59 2/5 in 1973 -- the only Derby in less than two minutes -- he performed the phenomenal feat of running each quarter-mile faster than the previous one. In Saturday's Derby, each quarter-mile clocking was slower than the previous one. Real Quiet ran the final quarter in a languid 27 seconds.

"It was not a race that struck fear into your heart," Stuart S. Janney III said.

Janney watched the race at home in Butler, Md., having decided not to send his talented colt Coronado's Quest into the fray in Louisville. Even though Coronado's Quest won the Wood Memorial impressively, Janney and his trainer Shug McGaughey kept the colt in New York for fear that the large and boisterous Derby crowd might cause a relapse of pre-race behavioral problems he experienced this winter in Florida.

Janney said yesterday that he and McGaughey haven't decided whether to run Coronado's Quest in the Preakness.

"Shug is down in Florida redecorating his condo," Janney said. "I think he gets back Tuesday. I'm in New York this week, so I'll

wander over there Wednesday or Thursday, and we'll try to figure something out. And what we may figure out is that we haven't figured anything out."

Janney said another option is the one-mile Metropolitan Handicap on May 25 at Belmont Park. The Met Mile and the Preakness are Grade I races, but the Preakness purse of $1 million is twice as high.

Before leaving Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., Coronado's Quest underwent minor throat surgery to correct a breathing problem. Since returning to New York, Janney said, the horse "has been a perfect model citizen. And he's been training terrific."

Of the horses who passed the Derby but might run in the Preakness, Coronado's Quest is the best. If Janney and McGaughey decide to run him, he would likely face -- in addition to Real Quiet and Indian Charlie -- the Derby competitors Halory Hunter and Cape Town, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Nick Zito, who trains Halory Hunter, said the colt emerged from the Derby with a few scrapes, but nothing serious.

"He's a real fighter," Zito said. "He could have thrown in the towel when that hole closed in front of him, but he didn't. He just kept coming."

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Cape Town, said his horse was in perfect position to win at the head of the stretch, "but he just didn't punch that last eighth of a mile for some reason."

Even though Real Quiet, the late-developing colt with only two wins in 12 starts entering the Derby, brought home the roses for Baffert, the trainer indicated that his heart remains with Indian Charlie.

"I was sort of disappointed in the way he ran," Baffert said. "I think the lack of racing caught up with him, because horses kept coming at him, and he kept making different runs.

"Gary [Stevens, his jockey] said any normal horse would have gotten beat 15 lengths. He passed the test. He really fought hard to stay up there for third."

Of Real Quiet, Baffert said: "I'm not sure he's the kind of horse who can come back and win the Preakness. He's had trouble putting two good races together."

Baffert said he wouldn't be surprised if Indian Charlie was favored in the Preakness. There is precedent. In two of the past three Preaknesses, the Derby winner went off as third choice in Baltimore.

Elliott Walden, trainer of Derby runner-up Victory Gallop, said his Canadian-bred colt might skip the Preakness and run in the Belmont on June 6 and then the Queen's Plate Stakes at Woodbine two weeks later. The Queen's Plate is the first leg of Canada's Triple Crown.

"But that's not etched in stone," Walden said. "We'll sit down and evaluate everything. The Preakness isn't totally out of the question."

Bill Mott, trainer of Favorite Trick, was disappointed by the effort of the 1997 Horse of the Year.

"This morning, I'm not particularly interested in going to the Preakness," Mott said.

Asked about Favorite Trick's eighth-place finish in the Derby, Mott said: "He had a perfect trip. He was in position to win the race when they turned for home, but he came up empty."

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