Trainer Motion believes in Equality

Top rider, freshness give `legitimate horse' a shot

Preakness notebook

Horse Racing

May 13, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Apprehensive of little cooperation from the weather, trainer H. Graham Motion sent Preakness entry Equality to the track at Pimlico earlier than expected yesterday morning and the colt responded with a 1:13 4/5 effort over six furlongs.

"He worked in 13 and change at Delaware [May 5], and I thought he might go a little faster here," Motion said. "But this track is a little more conservative than I believed. He finished the final half [mile] in 48 seconds, which is a good work by any standard."

Motion saddled his first Triple Crown horse last year when Bay Eagle ran eighth behind Point Given in the Preakness. He likes his chances better this time with a strapping gray-roan colt who won the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby on March 17.

"The whole picture appears kind of wide-open and we have a fresh horse. That plays in his favor," Motion said. "Bay Eagle won the Private Terms and we took a shot. But this one has a little stronger credentials. We feel this is a legitimate horse in this race."

Equality - by Mt. Livermore out of Equlibrate - last ran April 6, finishing second at 3-to-5 odds to Mascara in the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park after encountering trouble on the turn. Had he won, he might have been in the Kentucky Derby after wins in three of his previous four.

But he has never run at Pimlico and has not raced farther than 1 1/16 miles, a furlong shorter than the Preakness distance.

Motion said Equality will not be in the contingent that figures to challenge Derby winner War Emblem for the front.

"It's hard to knock what he [War Emblem] did, but sometimes people hype up the speed factor a lot," Motion said. "I think we'll be fairly close to the pace, whatever it is."

Last year's No. 1 rider nationally, Ramon Dominguez, will be aboard Equality. Said Motion: "Mrs. Abercrombie [Josephine, owner of Pin Oak Stable] has a lot of confidence in him. Ramon is a local rider and sometimes that works to your advantage."

Yesterday, Dominguez was "happy the way he picked it up from the three-eighths pole to the wire. He's a big horse and he just keeps getting better."

Rather than commute from Delaware Park, where half his stable is located, Motion decided to bring Equality to Old Hilltop "to get him accustomed to the surroundings." He was accompanied by another gray-roan horse, He's A Knockout, who is entered in the Maryland Breeders' Cup on the Preakness undercard.

"It would be my greatest accomplishment," Motion said of winning the Preakness. "But just to be associated with the kind of horses that Pin Oak has, to be around them, is a joy."

Zito steps up workouts

Trainer Nick Zito will drill Straight Gin this morning and Crimson Hero tomorrow morning after both colts galloped around the Pimlico oval yesterday.

Chris McCarron will ride Crimson Hero for the first time in the Preakness. Zito has not named a jockey on Straight Gin.

The lightly raced Menacing Dennis was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico late last night after being delayed by airplane problems Friday.

Et cetera

The week's stakes races begin Thursday with the Grade III, $100,000 Miss Preakness, which has drawn 10 3-year-old fillies to vie at six furlongs. Preakness jockeys Pat Day (A New Twist) and Victor Espinoza (Shameful) are listed to ride in the race. Both horses have already run second in graded stakes. ... The third annual public auction of horse racing memorabilia will be held Sunday at the Timonium grandstand, beginning at 1 p.m. For additional information contact Frank B. Russo Jr. Auctioneers, Inc., at 410-592-3111.

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