No field of dreams for the Preakness Racing: Having already lost two leading contenders, the Preakness is also without Coronado's Quest, withdrawn because of a bruised foot.

May 16, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

During the first week after the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness resembled an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Trainers and owners of prospective Preakness horses couldn't make up their minds whether to come or not. Nobody knew who was in, who was out, who was on the fence, who was waiting in the wings.

You started wondering what could possibly be so unappealing about a million-dollar horse race -- the richest ever in Maryland -- scheduled at 5: 27 p.m. today at Pimlico.

This past week, the Preakness turned into an Alfred Hitchcock film.

Halory Hunter broke his leg on a rain-soaked day at Pimlico. Indian Charlie was withdrawn because his trainer had a "gut feeling" that something was amiss.

They were two of the major contenders. The 123rd Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, began showing tarnish around the edges.

And then yesterday, when it appeared nothing else could go wrong, Coronado's Quest, the potential favorite, was scratched because of a bruised foot.

His trainer, Shug McGaughey, discovered the injury yesterday morning after the colt had galloped a mile and a half at Belmont Park. He promptly called the horse's owner, Stuart S. Janney III, who lives in Butler in Baltimore County. Janney was disappointed, he said. But ever the realist, he understands the emotional extremes of the sport.

"I hate to miss the race," Janney said. "I thought he had a terrific chance. But it's an aspect of racing that they're not always ready on the day you want them to run."

Real Quiet, the Kentucky Derby winner, inherited the favorite's role. His early odds to win are 2-1. Victory Gallop, the Derby runner-up, became the second-choice at 5-2.

And Cape Town, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, dropped to 4-1. He is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who has started 21 horses in the Preakness -- more than any other trainer -- and won with four of them.

"We lost some major players," Lukas said at the Pimlico stakes barn.

"But the Preakness is always going to be a great race. At 6 o'clock, when we get all done and we're standing here, it'll still go down in the history books as a classic."

Pub Date: 5/16/98

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