Monarchos' mission: come up lucky at 7

As post selection goes, `it worked out perfectly'

May 17, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The favorite who disappointed in the Kentucky Derby drew the extreme outside again. The Derby winner got exactly where his connections wanted him to be. And the race's speediest entry wound up exactly in the middle of the starting pack despite the first selection in the process.

Those were the highlights yesterday when positions were selected for the 126th Preakness at the ESPN Zone. Nearly all the longest shots will be bunched nearest the rail.

The happiest group had to be the Monarchos team when, picking second in the draw, trainer John Ward Jr. quickly opted for the No. 7 post after the almost-certain pacesetter, Richly Blended, landed in the six hole.

"We wanted [Post] 7, Jorge [jockey Jorge Chavez] wanted 7, and it worked out perfectly," Ward said. "In the Derby we wanted 15 and got 16. Here, you have to make your move on the back side if you come from behind. And we've got the speed inside of us."

Inside of a spot near the rail, trainer Ben Perkins Jr. chose No. 6 (the winningest of all post positions in the Preakness) for Richly Blended, whose only defeat in five races was a third behind Congaree and Monarchos in the Grade II Wood Memorial. Most observers believed Richly Blended would be closer to the inside.`There's not as much early speed as in the Derby," Perkins said, "and this will give him less time to spend in the gate. I don't think being parked out a little bit at the start will hurt because he's very fast from the gate."

A question of distance surrounds Richly Blended because of his pedigree and his history - his only defeat came when going more than a mile. "I guess we'll find out," Perkins said.

Again, Point Given will be the last horse loaded, but trainer Bob Baffert didn't seem overly concerned. In the Derby, he was hustled into good position despite starting at No. 17 before flattening out after a mile. This time, he is in the No. 11 slot.

"We got Real Quiet home from the 11," Baffert said of the 1998 Preakness champion. "That turned out all right. Maybe we'll get lucky again."

The other Baffert-trained entry, Congaree, landed in an ideal No. 5 post, just inside Richly Blended and within eyeball distance of Monarchos.

"The Preakness is a different race from the Derby," said Baffert, winning conditioner in two of the past four Preaknesses. "The riders get professional here. At the Derby, it's just la-la land," referring to the crowded field.

126th Preakness: facts, figures, field

What: Second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. When: Saturday, post time approximately 6 p.m.

Where: Pimlico Race Course. Distance: 1 3/16 miles. Purse: $1 million. TV: Chs. 11, 4 (coverage begins at 5 p.m.)

The field

..........................................................Starts-

PP Horse Trainer Jockey 1st-2nd-3rd Earnings Last race Odds

1. Marciano...Tim Ritchey.... Mark Johnston....11-5-3-0.....$237,500....1st , Tesio Stakes 30-1

2. Mr. John... Elliott Walden.... Corey Nakatani 5-2-1-1...$90,930... 2nd*, Lexington Stakes... 50-1

3. Griffinite... Jennifer Leigh-Pedersen... Shawn Bridgmohan... 8-3-1-1... $215,027... 3rd*, Lexington Stakes... 50-1

4. A P Valentine... Nick Zito... Victor Espinoza.... 8-3-0-2 $368,170... 7th, Kentucky Derby ...10-1

5. Congaree... Bob Baffert... Jerry Bailey... 5-3-0-1... $597,400... 3rd, Kentucky Derby... 5-2

6. Richly Blended... Ben Perkins Jr.... Rick Wilson... 5-4-0-1... $323,280...1st, Withers Stakes... 10-1

7. Monarchos... John Ward Jr. ...Jorge Chavez... 7-4-1-1... $1,605,630... 1st, Kentucky Derby... 2-1

8. Percy Hope... Tony Reinstedler... Jon Court... 12-4-2-2... $428,397... 1st, Lone Star Derby...50-1

9. Bay Eagle... H. Graham Motion... Ramon Dominguez... 10-2-3-3... $117,923... 4th*, Lexington Stakes... 30-1

10. Dollar Bill... Dallas Stewart... Pat Day... 9-3-2-1... $453,696... 15th, Kentucky Derby... 12-1

11. Point Given... Bob Baffert... Gary Stevens... 9-5-3-0... $1,218,500... 5th, Kentucky Derby ...3-1*

- Mr. John was disqualified and placed eighth in the Lexington, with Griffinite placed second and Bay Eagle third.

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