Even tight turns don't make for crowd of excuses

Unlike demolition Derby, Charismatic's pursuers cite winner, not conditions

Analysis 124TH PREAKNESS

May 16, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

They reran the Kentucky Derby yesterday at Pimlico -- without much of the demolition.

There was some minor bumping, some tight quarters and some traffic problems in the 124th Preakness, but there was also no doubt that Charismatic, the one-time claimer, was superior again.

As is usually the custom, the Preakness was a much truer race than the Derby with its bulging field, jostling and traffic problems.

If any camp had a valid reason for a poor finish, it was that of the filly, Excellent Meeting, who had trouble in tight quarters early and was pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux at the three-eighths pole, the dream of the first female Preakness winner since 1924 gone.

Veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramledge said the horse "had some breathing problems and just had a bad day. She couldn't get her air. It's like asthma in people."

Excuses were difficult to find for the rest. Cat Thief, third in Kentucky, and Kimberlite Pipe destroyed each other while setting a killer pace (22 2/5, 45 1/5 and 1: 10 1/5, a fifth off the six-furlong track record) to ideally play setup for Charismatic and Menifee.

Menifee suffered a bump and lost position briefly, but generally ran his race and was hard-pressed to hold second against the surprising long shot, Badge, who came chugging off the final turn just behind Charismatic.

Stephen Got Even took the long road and did well despite an erratic running style. Patience Game, a relatively inexperienced horse, was making a move before being steadied when bothered by Badge as they neared the stretch and probably had a bigger complaint than anyone else.

Vicar, the horse who was never scratched, broke from the No. 13 post and tried to keep up with the early speed, but backed up quickly in the stretch. Worldly Manner was wide, but that wasn't a big detriment on a day the track was honest. He just never kicked in.

Torrid Sand was another who experienced breathing problems and Valhol was coughing after the race, but they didn't appear serious challengers.

In the end, they all succumbed to another determined run by the son of Summer Squall, who becomes the third straight Preakness champion to shoot for the Triple Crown.

The big chestnut looked a lot like Real Quiet in 1998 when he stormed around the final turn to take command just after they entered the lane.

"We felt we couldn't change our style," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "A lot of people were talking to us about the rail bias [from Friday], but you don't want to change in the big game. He made a bigger move than he did in the Derby."

There was little respect from the bettors, who made Charismatic's odds (8-1) the longest for a Derby winner since Dark Star's in 1953. Lukas tried to tell the media the horse was improving nicely and deserved more attention. He was paid little heed.

Going into the Belmont Stakes, the listeners should be a little more attentive.

1... 2... 3?

Charismatic is the 28th horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. How those horses fared in the Belmont:

Year Horse Belmont

1919 Sir Barton Won

1930 Gallant Fox Won

1932 Burgoo King DNS

1935 Omaha Won

1936 Bold Venture DNS

1937 War Admiral Won

1941 Whirlaway Won

1943 Count Fleet Won

1944 Pensive Second

1946 Assault Won

1948 Citation Won

1958 Tim Tam Second

1961 Carry Back Seventh

1964 Northern Dancer Third

1966 Kauai King Fourth

1968 Forward Pass* Second

1969 Majestic Prince Second

1971 Canonero II Fourth

1973 Secretariat Won

1977 Seattle Slew Won

1978 Affirmed Won

1979 Spectacular Bid Third

1981 Pleasant Colony Third

1987 Alysheba Fourth

1989 Sunday Silence Second

1997 Silver Charm Second

1998 Real Quiet Second

1999 Charismatic

Triple Crown winners in bold

DNS - Did not start

* - Won Derby on disqualification

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