Two veteran trainers who have won a combined nine Preaknesses came to Pimlico Race Course yesterday with three entries for 2003, all of whom figure to be moderate to distinctive long shots.
D. Wayne Lukas (five Preakness champions) arrived with Scrimshaw and Ten Cents A Shine, both Kentucky Derby also-rans, and Bob Baffert (four) is here with Senor Swinger, considered more of a turf runner and a non-Derby participant.
Lukas may have a sleeper in Ten Cents A Shine, whose workouts at Churchill Downs have impressed owner Ken Ramsey. "If we don't finish on the board, I'll be disappointed," Ramsey said.
The trainer pointed to poor racing luck as responsible for his charges' disappointments in Kentucky. Ten Cents A Shine ran eighth and Scrimshaw 11th.
Scrimshaw likes to be near the pace while Ten Cents A Shine is clearly a closer, so they should not interfere with each other.
In an oddity, Lukas and Baffert will be coupled because Scrimshaw and Senor Swinger are both owned by Robert and Beverly Lewis.
Baffert also considered running During in the Preakness, but he will now go on the undercard in the Sir Barton Stakes.
The field was reduced to 10 when Champali was withdrawn because of colic, according to trainer Greg Foley.
Start of stakes
The first of 13 stakes races offering more than $3 million in purse money this weekend occurs today when six fillies vie in the Grade III, $100,000 Miss Preakness over six furlongs.
Despite the probable defection of unbeaten and three-time graded stakes winner Awesome Humor, who ran yesterday, the field is attractive.
Forever Partners, second in the Grade I Spinaway to Awesome Humor (her only loss in four starts), tuned up with an impressive allowance win at Pimlico on April 12.
Chimichurri has a victory in graded company, local runner Pompanmento has captured her first two starts by more than eight lengths, and New York runner Belong To Sea is unvanquished in two outings at Aqueduct this spring.
Running it again
The famed 1938 match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in the Pimlico Special will be re-enacted tomorrow at 3:20 p.m. over the Pimlico oval.
Locally based horses and jockeys will play the parts of the participants, including Seabiscuit rider George Woolf and War Admiral jockey Charley Kurtsinger.
Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who plays Kurtsinger in the forthcoming film Seabiscuit, will be in the grandstand from 11 a.m. until noon to autograph collectibles from the movie.
Aitcheson field at 12
Four horses from the opening leg at Churchill Downs, including the top three finishers, will headline the 12-horse field in tomorrow's second race in the Steeplechase Triple Crown, the $100,000-added Joe Aitcheson Stakes at 2 1/8 miles.
Winner Trebizond, runner-up Naughty Prince and third-place Fighting Star are back from the Hard Scuffle Stakes along with Major Hero, a horse trained by Maryland-based Tom Voss who fell at the sixth fence in Kentucky after taking an early lead.
Mr. Perkolater, I'm Hit Sarge, former Maryland Juvenile champion Crafty Celt and Ghost Fever also have strong credentials.
The race is named for Laurel resident Aitcheson, who won a record 110 American steeplechase races, including the single-season high of 40 in 1964.
Mayor Martin O'Malley said there would be tighter than normal security for this year's Preakness.
"We are going to have plenty of security for the Preakness," O'Malley said yesterday. "We'll have a lot of officers around the perimeter and a lot more plain-clothed officers ... and the Maryland Jockey Club will have the responsibility for ejecting any unruly patrons.
"Obviously, there is going to be a lot of security - more than before Sept. 11. Hopefully, we'll have a peaceful and happy Preakness."