Small field, speed put everyone in perfect positions

`Pegasus' in No. 7 slot

`Bullet' in middle at 4

125th Preakness

May 18, 2000|By Kent Baker and Tom Keyser | Kent Baker and Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

There is speed on the rail, on the far outside and in the center of the pack.

The overwhelming favorite, Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, and the second choice, Red Bullet, are right where they want to be.

So, the 125th Preakness should provide an intriguing race after the post position draw was executed yesterday at the ESPN Zone.

With only eight horses and a quarter mile of ground to the first turn, the Preakness draw usually lacks the drama of the Kentucky Derby, where a cavalry charge for position frequently occurs in a crowded field.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has been through the routine many times, said he wrote down the positions beforehand exactly as they developed.

Lukas believes the pace will be slightly less blistering than in Kentucky when Hal's Hope-on the far outside here-burned six furlongs in 1 minute, 9 4/5 seconds and buried the chances of the front-runners."I think they'll be a little more cautious this time," he said after being one of three connections to spurn the rail before California speed horse Hugh Hefner wound up there with the fourth pick."I think what has happened to Pimlico in recent years is the track has changed. It's very much a different surface now, much softer and less abrasive," said Lukas. "It's a really nice track that doesn't favor anywhere." Fusaichi Pegasus, installed as the 3-to-5 favorite by track oddsmaker Clem Florio, got the seven slot and will not have to stand in the gate very long - as is trainer Neil Drysdale's preference.

Drysdale said he is "not interested" in his horse's short odds because "that has no bearing on my department."

Joe Orseno picked first for Red Bullet and chose to run from the No. 4 post. "It worked out well," he said. "Now Jerry [jockey Jerry Bailey] can do what he wants with him."

Impeachment's connections opted for No. 3 next, but the postposition is not really relevant for the Derby's third finisher because he comes from so far behind.

Then, Lukas spurned the rail despite High Yield's speed and chose No. 5. Like several of the competitors, he feels Fusaichi is "beatable. I don't think we should anoint the Derby winner yet."

Hugh Hefner's trainer, Martin Jones, then snapped up No. 1 followed by Snuck In going for the two hole.

Steve Asmussen, trainer of Snuck In, believes Hal's Hope is again the key to the race."If he breaks well or if he gets any bad start might determine what happens," Asmussen said of Hal's Hope. "The first 100 yards could determine the difference in the second half."We chose two because we're going to have to get the trip. If we get in traffic, we're not going to win." Snuck In is considered a stalker.

Bob Baffert, trainer of Captain Steve, expects an honestly race because "a lot of speed is in there and there are no wacky horses ."

Captain Steve's new digs

Along with Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Derby also-ran Captain Steve and fresh challenger Snuck In arrived yesterday at Pimlico. But unlike Fusaichi Pegasus, Captain Steve and Snuck In settled into the stakes barn.

Captain Steve moved into Stall 40, traditionally reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner. Baffert, a familiar Preakness presence in recent years, said this would be his colt's final Triple Crown effort; he will not contest the Belmont."I'm getting off at this bus stop," Baffert said. "This is it for me."

Long trip for `Hefner'

Hugh Hefner, the Preakness long shot, also arrived at Pimlico yesterday, about five hours before the bunch from Louisville.

Based at Hollywood Park, Hugh Hefner flew on an overnight cargo flight from Los Angeles that stopped for an hour in Dayton, Ohio. His trainer Jones took a commercial red-eye."I'm a little tired, but he seems fine," Jones said. "Better the trainer is tired than the horse."

`Hope' ready to go

Red Bullet and Hal's Hope galloped at Pimlico - Red Bullet two miles and Hal's Hope 2 1/2 miles.

The trainer of Hal's Hope, Harold J. Rose, said he would not breeze his colt between the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 16th, and the Preakness."He's fit enough," Rose said. "This will be his third race in a five-week span. He really doesn't need much work."

Et cetera

Impeachment, third in the Kentucky Derby, is the only Preakness horse not at Pimlico. He is scheduled to leave Belmont Park at 4:30 a.m. today by van and arrive in Baltimore about 9 a.m. ... After his disappointing 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, High Yield continues to impress his trainer Lukas in workouts at Pimlico. "I didn't think he could do any better than he did leading up to the Derby," Lukas said. "But if it's possible, he is doing better." ... The $75,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf kicked off the Preakness week stakes program yesterday at Pimlico, and a horse from Kentucky won it. Trained by Tom Amoss at Churchill Downs, Azireprice raced wide for a three-quarter-length victory over the local filly Good Game.

Preakness field

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Earnings Last race Odds

1.Hugh Hefner Martin Jones Victor Espinoza $167,855 2nd, Snow Chief Stakes 20-1

2.Snuck In Steve Asmussen Cash Asmussen $519,820 2nd, Arkansas Derby 12-1

3. Impeachment Todd Pletcher Craig Perret $180,450 3rd, Kentucky Derby 8-1

4. Red Bullet Joe Orseno Jerry Bailey $313,800 2nd, Wood Memorial 9-2

5. High Yield D. Wayne Lukas Pat Day $1,170,196 15th, Kentucky Derby 10-1

6.Captain Steve Bob Baffert Robbie Albarado $960,256 8th, Kentucky Derby 8-1

7.Fusaichi Pegasus Neil Drysdale Kent Desormeaux $1,554,400 1st, Kentucky Derby 3-5

8.Hal's Hope Harold Rose Roger Velez $582,160 16th, Kentucky Derby 20-1

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