`Quiet' makes Special return

'98 Preakness victor hasn't won race since

May 06, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Real Quiet arrived at the scene of his last victory yesterday and settled in to mount a challenge against a hard-luck member of the 1997 Triple Crown series, Free House, in Saturday's $500,000 Pimlico Special.

The 1998 Preakness winner -- who was nudged out of a Triple Crown by Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes -- was flown from Kentucky to Baltimore and took up in Stall 27 of Pimlico's stakes barn for a race that has been reduced to five starters by defections.

The son of Quiet American was given a nine-month layoff after last year's Belmont, returned March 7 to finish second to Precocity by a half-length in the New Orleans Handicap, then lost by a neck to Littlebitlively in the Texas Mile on April 18.

His most recent win was in the blackout-marred Preakness.

Trainer Bob Baffert remained in Kentucky yesterday, so Larry Damore, Real Quiet's exercise rider, said the hope is that Free House does not race off to an insurmountable lead as Littlebitlively did in Texas.

"If he gets out there too easy, it'll make it tough. Another speed horse in there might be to our benefit," said Damore. "We just got too far back going a mile in Texas. I knew after the first half that horse [Littlebitlively] would be tough to catch. It's hard to beat those kind."

Real Quiet is the first Preakness champion to run in the following year's Special since Summer Squall, who finished second in 1991.

"It's neat for the racetrack and we might get a few more fans here because the Preakness winner is here," said Damore. "This is a good field even though it's not big. He had a good performance in Texas, so maybe now is the time."

In the draw yesterday, Real Quiet was assigned the outside (No. 5) post, not an issue in such a small field and since he runs from off the pace.

Free House, who was due in from California via Newark, N.J., last night, will break from the fourth post and carry high weight of 124 pounds while Precocity, the other solid contender, drew No. 2. Likely long shots Fred Bear Claw and Brushing Up are on the rail and No. 3, respectively.

In his first visit to Pimlico since being beaten by a head by Silver Charm in the '97 Preakness, Free House will be seeking to extend a win streak to three.

Meanwhile, all the big guns in the Preakness field remained off the grounds, but First American and Valhol, the controversial Arkansas Derby winner, took their places on stakes row.

Valhol -- whose Arkansas victory was overturned yesterday by stewards who ruled that his jockey used an electric shocking device on him -- was given the distinction of being bedded in Stall 40, usually reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner. That stall was open this year because D. Wayne Lukas-trained Charismatic will be at the other end of the barn where Lukas is always quartered here.

Trainer Eduardo Caramori accompanied First American and said there were no problems with the flight.

"It's our first trip here. We don't know the place, so we believe it'll take like three or four days to get used to it," said Caramori.

First American jogged Monday and galloped Tuesday at Churchill Downs after finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby. He was fifth after a half-mile, but tired in the final eighth of a mile.

"He made a nice impression, a nice move down the stretch, but at the eighth pole, no more horse," said the trainer. "He's fit. Some got cut, but nothing happened to him in the Derby, so we decided to try again."

The next Preakness horses to arrive are expected to be Stephen Got Even and Adonis, Nick Zito's contingent that is due tomorrow.

Pimlico Special

What: Grade I, $500,000 Pimlico Special

Where: Pimlico Race Course

When: Saturday Post time: 3: 43 p.m.

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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