Preakness field still a far cry from firm

Weighing their chances, trainers hedging bets

Horse Racing

May 05, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

As the list of probable starters in the Preakness shrinks, the list of possible starters grows. Expect more changes for the May 15 race at Pimlico as trainers keep one eye on the field and the other on the condition of their horses.

Kristin Mulhall, the 21-year-old trainer, has withdrawn the California-bred Cheiron from Preakness consideration. Mulhall had already said Imperialism, her third-place Derby finisher, would skip the Preakness and await the Belmont.

But trainer Nick Zito has added two horses for Preakness consideration. While The Cliff's Edge, fifth in the Derby, remains the most likely, Zito has added Royal Assault and Sir Shackleton to the list of possible starters.

Sir Shackleton has won three of four races, including the Derby Trial in his previous start. Royal Assault has won only one of four races.

Also, trainer Bob Baffert said two of his horses - Bornwithit and Preachinatthebar - are possible. Preachinatthebar, who breezed four furlongs in 47.60 seconds yesterday at Churchill Downs, was a Derby candidate until lackluster training knocked him off the trail. Bornwithit has won three of six starts but never run in a stakes races.

Meanwhile, Smarty Jones, winner of the 130th Kentucky Derby, was flown from Louisville to Baltimore yesterday and then vanned home to Philadelphia Park. The undefeated colt will prepare for the second jewel of the Triple Crown at his home base in Bensalem, just north of Philadelphia.

Rock Hard Ten, denied a starting spot in the Derby because of lack of graded-stakes earnings, breezed seven furlongs in 1 minute, 26 seconds yesterday at Churchill Downs.

Gary Stevens will fly back from France, where he's been riding, to pilot Rock Hard Ten in the Preakness. Jockey Joe Deegan rode the colt yesterday.

"It's been a long time since I've been on a horse that felt like that," Deegan said. Asked about the colt's chances in the Preakness, Deegan said: "He'll probably win it."

Field for the 129th Preakness Stakes

Horse Trainer Last race

Probable

Smarty Jones John Servis 1st, Kentucky Derby

Lion Heart Patrick Biancone 2nd, Kentucky Derby

The Cliff's Edge Nick Zito 5th, Kentucky Derby

Borrego Beau Greely 10th, Kentucky Derby

Eddington Mark Hennig 3rd, Wood Memorial Stakes

Rock Hard Ten Jason Orman 3rd, Santa Anita Derby

Water Cannon Linda Albert 1st, Federico Tesio Stakes

Possible

Read the Footnotes Rick Violette 7th, Kentucky Derby

Tapit Michael Dickinson 9th, Kentucky Derby

Friends Lake John Kimmel 15th, Kentucky Derby

Bornwithit Bob Baffert 1st, allowance

Preachinatthebar Bob Baffert 7th, Blue Grass Stakes

Royal Assault Nick Zito 5th, Wood Memorial Stakes

Sinister G John Toscano Jr. 10th, Wood Memorial Stakes

Sir Shackleton Nick Zito 1st, Derby Trial

Swingforthefences Rick Violette 4th, Wood Memorial Stakes

Horse racing Q&A

To see responses by reporter Tom Keyser of The Sun to online questions about horse racing, go to The Sun's Web site at www.baltimoresun.com/sports/preakness.

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