Impeachment works his way into race

Sharp Belmont session earns shot at Pimlico, bringing field to eight

Notebook

May 17, 2000|By Tom Keyser and Kent Baker | Tom Keyser and Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

After losing Wheelaway the day before, the Preakness gained Impeachment yesterday. That brings the field for Saturday's million-dollar race back to eight.

Impeachment finished third in the Kentucky Derby after breaking 19th (and last). He has won only one race - his maiden debut at Calder - and has since lost six in a row. In his two races before the Derby, he finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby and third in the Arkansas Derby.

His trainer, Todd Pletcher, announced his entry into the Preakness after Impeachment's half-mile breeze yesterday at Belmont Park. He blazed the four furlongs in 48 seconds, then galloped out five in 1:00 and six in 1:14.

He was "as sharp as jailhouse coffee," said Cot Campbell, president of Dogwood Stables, which owns the Deputy Minister colt.

Impeachment was one of four horses Pletcher saddled for the Derby, but he is the only one he will ship to Baltimore for the Preakness. Pletcher said More Than Ready, fourth in the Derby, will run next in the Met Mile at Belmont.

Of Impeachment, Pletcher said: "He's the kind of horse who improves each time we run him. ... You get one shot at a race like this, one shot to run in the Preakness."

The morning after the Derby, Pletcher said he would bypass the Preakness unless he thought he could win it. Yesterday, he said: "I think it's a little foolish to say we're going to win it with Drysdale's horse in there. [Neil Drysdale trains Fusaichi Pegasus].

"But Impeachment finished 5 1/2 lengths behind him. If Fusaichi Pegasus moves back a few lengths and Impeachment moves forward a few lengths, he will be right there."

`Blues' has a case

Provided she runs, five-time stakes winner Case of the Blues will be the likely favorite when today's $75,000 Hilltop Stakes kicks off Maryland's richest week of racing.

Trained by Hamilton Smith, the 3-year-old filly has won four consecutive stakes, beating Blushing Broad, another top contender, on April 22 in the Caesars Wish at Pimlico. She also owns a victory over Dinner Party - who figures to attract considerable betting attention - in the Landaura Stakes last winter.

Case of the Blues is cross-entered in Friday's Black Eyed Susan Stakes, so she may be scratched today.

This would be the first time on grass for all three fillies, with the race scheduled for 1 1/16 miles. Four other entries in the 11-horse field already have scored on turf.

The stakes pace begins to quicken tomorrow when eight fillies vie in the $100,000 Miss Preakness at six furlongs and 10 - including an Augustin Stable entry -- go steeplechasing over 2 1/8 miles for $100,000 in the Grade I Joe Aitcheson Stakes.

Highly regarded Swept Away may be the one to beat in the Miss Preakness after finishing second in the Grade II Beaumont at Keeneland in her last outing, but Magicalmysterycat, another Storm Cat offspring trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and Field of Dreams figure to argue.

In the jump race, Pompeyo and Shahrahere, 1-2 in the Grade I Hardscuffle at Churchill Downs May 4, look like the leading contenders in a wide-open field.

Taking it easy

It was a slow day for the top Preakness horses, whose morning activity was confined to galloping and walking.

In Kentucky, Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus walked under tack at Churchill Downs and Drysdale pronounced him "bright and alert. He's well within himself."

Fifteen horses are scheduled to accompany Fusaichi Pegasus on a flight to Baltimore today. Among them will be Captain Steve, who "is doing excellent," said trainer Bob Baffert. "He came out of the work [Monday] in great shape."

At Pimlico, High Yield walked under the shedrow. "We're not here trying to beat one horse," said his trainer, Lukas, of Fusaichi Pegasus. "We're here because we want to win. We don't pick out horses to beat in some kind of obsession."

Red Bullet galloped two miles, going faster in the second. Trainer Joe Orseno plans to send him through an open gallop for a half mile today.

Florida Derby winner Hal's Hope jogged and galloped and owner-breeder-trainer Harold Rose said, "If he's not fit now, he'll never be."

Miscellaneous

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