Maryland-based Chilito joins crowd Owner Allbritton decides front-runner deserves shot

Notebook

June 05, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ELMONT, N.Y. -- A surprise entrant surfaced yesterday for the Belmont from an unlikely place: Maryland.

The Laurel Park-based trainer H. Graham Motion entered Chilito at the last minute, increasing to 12 the challengers to Real Quiet's Triple Crown bid. Real Quiet will break from the No. 8 post, inside his nemesis, Victory Gallop, who drew an unfortunate outside starting position.

"The horse is doing so well," Motion said by telephone from Laurel. "You only get only one chance to run in the classic races. Mr. Allbritton wanted to take a shot."

Joe Allbritton owns Lazy Lane Farms in Virginia. Allbritton campaigned Hansel, who lost the Kentucky Derby in 1991 as the 5-2 favorite, but won the Preakness, Belmont and 3-year-old male championship.

Chilito also lost the Kentucky Derby. He finished 11th. Then, in the Jersey Derby on turf May 22 at Garden State Park, he finished fifth in a field of eight.

Chilito was denied the lead in the Jersey Derby. His best races, including a powerful victory in the Flamingo Stakes, have come on the lead.

"I'd be surprised if this time we're not on the lead," Motion said of the Belmont. "When he's had the lead, he's been very impressive."

But the Belmont is 1 1/2 miles. How long can Chilito hold the lead?

"We'll have to see how that works out," Motion said.

Horse and trainer will fly today to New York.

At yesterday's post-position draw -- the traditional, random kind -- Chilito drew No. 4 and was promptly labeled a 30-1 long shot in a field of long shots.

Of the 13 entrants, only three are less than 10-1 and five under 20-1. Real Quiet, seeking to become the first Triple Crown winner in 20 years, is 6-5, although most observers figure he'll be lower than that.

Victory Gallop, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is 7-2, but will break from post 11. In the Derby, he broke from post 13 and suffered from a wide trip, especially around the turns.

Although the track at Belmont is 1 1/2 miles with long, sweeping turns, the run from the starting gate to the first turn is a mere 3/16th of a mile. Horses likely to be hung wide are those outside Real Quiet: Hot Wells, Raffie's Majesty, Victory Gallop, Yarrow Brae and Grand Slam.

The two farthest outside, Yarrow Brae and Grand Slam, are trained by three-time Belmont winner D. Wayne Lukas. Grand Slam is 6-1 in the morning line.

He has recovered from a gruesome injury Nov. 8 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Entering the first turn, another horse's hoof struck his left hind leg, ripping it open and slicing a tendon.

"I may be a party of one," Lukas said, "But I think Grand Slam may have been the best 2-year-old in the country last year. If he'd run against Favorite Trick five times, I think he may have beaten him five times."

Favorite Trick won all eight of his races, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in which Grand Slam was injured. Favorite Trick was named 2-year-old male champion and Horse of the Year.

Grand Slam, before his injury, set a 5 1/2 -furlong Belmont track record in his first race and then set a stakes record in the Grade I Champagne Stakes. Grand Slam is undefeated at Belmont Park.

"The fact he's 4-for-4 on this racetrack is something you'd better put in your handicapping," Lukas said.

As for the 20-1 Yarrow Brae, his forgotten other entrant, Lukas said: "If you want to get out of town with coffee money, bet a little show ticket on him."

In his last eight races, dating to Nov. 1, Yarrow Brae has finished first or second seven times. In his last start, May 9, he won the Illinois Derby, earning his Belmont spot.

Real Quiet perky

Real Quiet got his first feel of Belmont Park's racing surface, jogging and galloping once around the nation's largest track. A horde of reporters and photographers watched.

When Real Quiet returned to the barn, the horde in tow, his trainer, Bob Baffert, said he was pleased with the colt's energy.

"He's got that Viagra look," Baffert said.

If Real Quiet wins the Belmont, his owner, Mike Pegram, might also get the Viagra look. A Triple Crown carries a $5 million bonus from Visa, sponsor of the three-race series.

High on breeding

Although Raffie's Majesty is the most lightly raced horse in the Belmont, his trainer, the ever-optimistic H. James Bond, says his long-striding, bred-for-distance colt is primed for the upset.

"The farther you go usually separates the men from the boys," Bond said. "My colt was bred and born to go a mile and a half. I think he's got a great chance for an upset."

The sire of Raffie's Majesty is Cormorant and his dam is the Irish-bred Raffinierte by the German-bred Surumu.

Bond didn't race the colt at 2 because he was slow developing. But this year, he has run him four times and won twice (maiden and allowance) and finished second once (Flamingo Stakes).

Pub Date: 6/05/98

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