'Quest' is favorite 'Quiet' gets far post

Derby's 1-2 finishers draw outside spots under new format

May 14, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The horse portrayed as a bad actor won the leading role yesterday at the post position draw for the 123rd Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

Coronado's Quest, the unruly teen-ager owned by Stuart S. Janney III, drew post No. 4 and was installed as the early 2-1 favorite in a field of 11. But the first two finishers in the Kentucky Derby, Real Quiet and Victory Gallop, drew dreadful outside posts -- and then drew groans from their trainers.

"He's going to have a tough time," trainer Bob Baffert said of Real Quiet, who won the Derby from post 3. "We'll have to pull a rabbit out of the hat."

Real Quiet will break from post 11, Victory Gallop from post 10.

Only one horse has won the Preakness from the 11 post -- Display in 1926. And only one has won from No. 10 -- Greek Money in 1962. (Ten or more horses have run in the Preakness 46 times.)

Asked about post 11, Real Quiet's owner Mike Pegram said: "It's a good number in a craps game."

Despite the outside positions, Pimlico oddsmaker Clem Florio declared Real Quiet the second-favorite at 5-2 and Victory Gallop the third-favorite at 3-1. He made only one other horse less than 10-1 -- Cape Town at 5-1.

Held in the Pimlico Sports Palace live on ESPN, the draw was the first in Preakness history in which the horses' representatives selected their post positions. And it went without a hitch.

At the post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago -- at which the same format was also employed for the first time -- Chris Lincoln of ESPN apparently misread a number. Kentucky racing officials ordered an embarrassing re-draw.

Yesterday, Lincoln was the host of the hour-long show but did not participate in the draw. Mark D. Euga, Pimlico paddock judge and timer, handled the numbered pills flawlessly. Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh and Pimlico's vice president of racing Lenny Hale assisted.

The Derby and Preakness draws were revamped to add drama and suspense. First, pills were drawn to establish the draw order. Coronado's Quest drew No. 1, meaning his representatives could pick first. Cape Town drew No. 2 and so on. Then, the representatives selected post positions in that order.

Janney, who lives in Butler, Md., selected for Coronado's Quest after calling Shug McGaughey, the colt's trainer, at his barn at Belmont Park. McGaughey and the horse's jockey, Mike Smith, both preferred post 4. Janney's task was easy.

"We can't argue with that, can we?" he said.

Asked whether his colt was best and deserved to be favored, Janney said: "I don't know whether we've got the best horse. We'll figure that out on Saturday. But I certainly would think they'd make him the favorite.

"After all, all these other trainers seem so concerned about him. If he wasn't going to be the favorite before that, he probably was going to be afterward."

Other trainers, notably Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, had complained about the prospect of Coronado's Quest receiving special treatment, such as being allowed to saddle apart from the other horses or not participate in the post parade.

Coronado's Quest, who has thrown temper tantrums before races, has been saddled in solitude and allowed to go onto the track before other horses. After winning the Wood Memorial Stakes on his best behavior, he skipped the Kentucky Derby because Janney and McGaughey were afraid he might regress and unravel before the boisterous crowd.

In recent days rival trainers have said that in classic races such as the Preakness, all horses should be treated equally. Janney said Coronado's Quest will do everything the other horses do.

"I think he'll be fine," Janney said.

As for the outspoken trainers, he said: "It seems to me they were boxing at shadows."

From the 4 post Coronado's Quest should be able to claim the rail, usually the place to be at Pimlico, save ground around the first turn and be in position to stay out of trouble down the backstretch. Real Quiet and Victory Gallop might not be so fortunate.

"The post [stinks]," Baffert said.

In the Kentucky Derby, Victory Gallop broke from post 13 and was forced to race wide the entire race. He might have been the best horse, but he had to run farther than Real Quiet, who raced closer to the rail.

Baffert said Real Quiet's jockey Kent Desormeaux might have to hustle the colt early to gain favorable position around the first turn.

"You hate to see that," Baffert said. "But what else can you do?

"All I know is I'm going to lead a horse over there who's ready to run. And if it doesn't work out, hey, it doesn't work out. It wasn't meant to be."

A few hours earlier Baffert basked in the first sunshine in days at Pimlico when Real Quiet arrived at the stakes barn. He and several horses, including Cape Town, were flown in the morning from Churchill Downs. Victory Gallop and Black Cash caught an afternoon flight.

Baffert said Real Quiet, in his first racing season last year, was a timid horse slow to catch on to what he was supposed to do.

"Now he's tough. Right now, he thinks he's King Kong. And that's great, because he's going to need to be King Kong come Saturday."

And Baffert said that before the post-position draw.

Race facts

Where: Pimlico Race Course

When: Saturday

Post time: 5: 27 p.m.

Gates open: 8: 30 a.m.

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

Purse: $1 million

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Derby winner: Real Quiet

Information: 410-542-9400


Favored 'Quest' will be late arrival. 10d

Halory Hunter recovering well. 10d

A look at the lineup. 10d


Winners by post

Post .. Winners .. Post .. Winners

No. 1 . .. . 9 ... No. 7 ... 11

No. 2 . ... 11 ... No. 8 ... 8

No. 3 . ... 11 ... No. 9 ... 2

No. 4 . ... 11 ... No. 10 .. 1

No. 5 . ... 10 ... No. 11 .. 1

No. 6 . ... 13 ... No. 12 .. 2

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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