Slow-starting Impeachment has staying power

Horse could benefit from smaller field, fast pace in Preakness

125th Preakness

May 19, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

He seemingly comes from the next county, a modern-day Silky Sullivan who is so far back at the beginning that he seems to be running in a different race.

Another torrid pace - such as the one Hal's Hope established in the Kentucky Derby - would be just peachy for Impeachment, a horse with serious late kick and hopes of having enough left down the lane tomorrow to outfinish Fusaichi Pegasus or whomever else might be at the front."If he moves forward two or three lengths and Fusaichi moves back a couple, we're right there," said Impeachment's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "He beat us 5 1/2 lengths, so that's all it'll take."

The Deputy Minister colt was 19th and last in the Kentucky Derby after a half mile, but jockey Craig Perret found room along the rail and steadily advanced.

Since the Preakness is a sixteenth of a mile shorter, logic would dictate that this one will be tougher for Impeachment. Conversely, the field of eight is less than half as large, so there will be less traffic to encounter."He shouldn't have to weave through too many in this one," said Pletcher, who captured the Miss Preakness Stakes yesterday with Lucky Livi.

Pletcher has been a traveling man for almost two months, so he kept Impeachment at his home base in New York until yesterday."I've been away from home a lot, so I wanted to be with the family," he said. "And [trainer] Tom Bohanon worked both Pine Bluff and Prairie Bayou at Belmont before the Preakness and they did all right."

In his final workout, Impeachment blazed through a half mile in 48 seconds, galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 and went through six in 1:14, satisfying his connections that he was ready for Pimlico's biggest race.

Cot Campbell, president of Dogwood Stable, which owns the colt, pronounced him "as sharp as jailhouse coffee."

The 1 1/2 -mile Belmont Stakes has long been the target for Impeachment, whose style is most suited for the distance and Belmont Park's long stretch to the finish line."Although we have the Belmont to aim for, Impeachment needs a race before then and the $1 million Preakness is a juicy sort of prep race," Campbell said with a laugh.

As for the distance, Pletcher isn't concerned because the Preakness will be the second longest (to Derby) test in his eight-race career."It's 1 and 3/16ths, not 1/16th," he said.

Before Hugh Hefner entered, Impeachment had the lowest earnings of anyone in the eight-horse field, less than $200,000.

He has won only once, breaking his maiden Dec. 29 at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of a length.

But the key for him are the early fractions expected to be set by Hal's Hope or Hugh Hefner, who has the rail."I hope it's blistering again," said Pletcher. "With this horse, you have to be careful how to ride him. You can't rush him too quickly."

Closers have taken half of the last 10 Preaknesses, front-runners only two.

So, the chances seem better than they appear on paper.

Campbell knows that tackling Fusaichi Pegasus is a mammoth assignment.

Beating him is a "double-tough assignment," said Campbell. "But we're talking about the Preakness and it's worth going for. You can't win the fight if you don't get into the ring."

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