The tents have risen in the infield. The flowers and wood chips have been placed around the stakes barn.
Pimlico Race Course is getting ready for the Preakness. All it needs now are the horses.
They begin arriving today not only for the Preakness on Saturday, but also for the 12 stakes Friday and Saturday that make up the biggest weekend of racing in the state.
Yesterday, post positions were drawn for Friday's races, including the Grade I Pimlico Special, featuring last year's Preakness winner Funny Cide, and the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
But the focus, of course, is the Preakness. And the spotlight, of course, shines on Smarty Jones. The popular Kentucky Derby winner is to arrive Wednesday afternoon after training that morning at Philadelphia Park.
The Preakness field seems to have solidified at 10 - five graduates of the Kentucky Derby and five new shooters, including the highly regarded Eddington and Rock Hard Ten. They were excluded from the Derby field because of a lack of graded-stakes earnings.
`Smarty' to collect bonus
Smarty Jones mania continues at Philadelphia Park.
Yesterday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell issued a proclamation to Smarty Jones' owners, Patricia and Roy Chapman, and trainer John Servis. Today, Charles Cella, owner of Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, will present the Chapmans a $5 million check for Smarty Jones' sweep of the Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby. ... .
The Cliff's Edge breezed four furlongs in 48.40 seconds yesterday at Churchill Downs in his only major work between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Despite losing his two front shoes, The Cliff's Edge finished fifth in the Derby.
Trainer Nick Zito said he was pleased with the exercise.
"We don't need to overdo it," he said. "He had those great workouts before the Kentucky Derby, and he just ran a mile and a quarter. He looks great, and that's what you want."
Zito also breezed Sir Shackleton, his second Preakness candidate. The Derby Trial winner whistled five furlongs in 59 seconds, the fastest of 17 works at that distance.
Borrego and Rock Hard Ten are scheduled to breeze today at Churchill Downs.
Oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough released early odds for the Preakness: Smarty Jones, 8-5; Lion Heart, 7-2; Imperialism, 5-1; Rock Hard Ten, 6-1; The Cliff's Edge, 10-1; Eddington, 12-1; Borrego, 18-1; Sir Shackleton, 25-1; Water Cannon, 40-1; Little Matth Man, 50-1.
Taking on field, newspaper
Post positions were drawn yesterday at Pimlico for Friday's races, including the five stakes. A select seven will contest the $500,000 Pimlico Special. Funny Cide, who won last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness, will break from Post 5 under his regular jockey, Jose Santos.
Santos and Sackatoga Stable, owners of Funny Cide, have filed a libel suit in Louisville, Ky., against The Miami Herald, which published a story a year ago alleging that Santos carried an illegal electrical device when winning the Kentucky Derby. An investigation by Kentucky racing officials promptly cleared Santos of any wrongdoing.
Go For Gin heading to Md.
Smarty Jones and Funny Cide won't be the only Kentucky Derby winners coming to Maryland this year.
Go For Gin, winner of the 1994 Kentucky Derby, will arrive this summer at Bonita Farm in Darlington to stand the 2005 breeding season. Go For Gin also finished second in the Preakness and Belmont.
Since retiring with five wins and seven seconds in 19 starts and earnings of $1,380,866, Go For Gin has stood at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. His first year was 1996. The Grade I winner Albert the Great, who earned $3,012,490, is by far Go For Gin's best offspring.
Go For Gin, 13, will stand for $5,000 at Bonita, which is owned and operated by the Boniface family. He will join Bonita's Deputed Testamony, winner of the 1983 Preakness.
A night to honor
Joining the Preakness week festivities, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association will hold its annual awards dinner tonight at The Center Club in Baltimore.
The group has selected Sondra and Howard Bender as Breeder of the Year for 2003, the third year they've won the honor. Horses they bred earned nearly $1.4 million last year. They bred seven stakes winners.
The association named Foufa as its Broodmare of the Year for 2003. Owned by the Benders, the 21-year-old Foufa has produced five stakes winners. This year she has been bred to Gulch.
Not For Love, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, is 2003 Stallion of the Year. The 14-year-old sire has produced five crops. His progeny earned nearly $5 million last year.
129th Preakness StakesProbable field
Horse Trainer Jockey Last race Arrives
Smarty Jones John Servis Stewart Elliott 1st, Kentucky Derby Wednesday
Lion Heart Patrick Biancone Mike Smith 2nd, Kentucky Derby Wednesday
Imperialism Kristin Mulhall Kent Desormeaux 3rd, Kentucky Derby Tomorrow
The Cliff's Edge Nick Zito Shane Sellers 5th, Kentucky Derby Today
Borrego Beau Greely Victor Espinoza 10th, Kentucky Derby Wednesday
Eddington Mark Hennig Jerry Bailey 3rd, Wood Memorial Wednesday
Rock Hard Ten Jason Orman Gary Stevens 3rd, Santa Anita Derby Wednesday
Little Matth Man Martin Ciresa Undecided 7th, Wood Memorial Friday
Sir Shackleton Nick Zito Rafael Bejarano 1st, Derby Trial Today
Water Cannon Linda Albert Ryan Fogelsonger 1st, Federico Tesio At Bowie