Decisions about Preakness linked to Derby 1-2 finishers

If top 2 enter, trainer says, `Lime,' Ashado likely won't

Horse Racing

May 04, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Limehouse and Ashado, two horses under consideration for the Preakness, will not compete in the May 15 race at Pimlico Race Course unless one of the top two contenders defects, Todd Pletcher, trainer of the horses, said yesterday.

Pletcher said from his barn at Belmont Park that Smarty Jones or Lion Heart, one-two finishers in the Kentucky Derby, would have to be withdrawn from the Preakness before he'd consider running his horses. Limehouse finished fourth in the Derby, and Ashado won the Kentucky Oaks, the 3-year-old filly counterpart to the Derby.

"As a rule, I don't like to run my horses back in two weeks; usually, I don't like to run them back in three weeks," Pletcher said. "And right now, I think we'd be hard-pressed to turn the tables on Smarty Jones or Lion Heart at a sixteenth-mile less."

The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, compared with the Derby's 1 1/4 . Smarty Jones and Lion Heart, both dominant early speed, presumably would be harder to catch in the Preakness, a shorter race than the Derby.

This was the first in what surely will be numerous changes to the prospective Preakness field. Even John Servis, trainer of Smarty Jones, said he won't decide for sure whether the Derby winner will run at Pimlico until he resumes training. Smarty Jones is scheduled to be flown today from Churchill Downs back to his base at Philadelphia Park.

Yesterday, Smarty Jones walked under the shedrow at his barn at Churchill. He'll return to the track tomorrow or Thursday at Philadelphia Park, Servis said.

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