Bonus added to `Smarty's' plaudits

Oaklawn Park owner says country needs this horse

Zito's 2 arrive at Pimlico

Preakness notebook

Horse Racing

May 11, 2004|By Tom Keyser and Kent Baker | Tom Keyser and Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

BENSALEM, Pa. - Charles J. Cella, the flashy owner of Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, strolled into Philadelphia Park yesterday with a $5 million check for the owners of Smarty Jones.

Wearing an outfit featuring a green and black stripe sports coat, Cella presented the check to Patricia and Roy Chapman, whose popular 3-year-old Smarty Jones earned Oaklawn Park's $5 million bonus for sweeping two stakes at Oaklawn and then winning the Kentucky Derby.

Cella compared what Smarty Jones is doing for the country to what Secretariat did three decades ago during the Watergate scandal. America is at war, Cella said, and news on the front page is bleak.

"It's, again, another thoroughbred that has returned to us the happiness, the equilibrium, we as Americans know," Cella said.

The bonus is the richest ever paid in horse racing history. Cella insured half last fall and half the week of the Kentucky Derby, he said.

"I think everybody's happy except the insurance companies," Cella said.

The Chapmans, who live in Florida during the winter and Pennsylvania the rest of the year, said they haven't decided what to do with the money. However, they've made their concern for backstretch workers a priority. Philadelphia Park has been selling Smarty Jones T-shirts, hats and photos, and all the proceeds are going to grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders and other stable workers, according to the Chapmans and Philadelphia Park officials.

"They're the people who keep the industry going," Patricia Chapman said of the backstretch workers. "They're the unsung heroes."

Zito's Preakness pair arrives

Smarty Jones galloped a mile and a half with his pony yesterday at Philadelphia Park, and John Servis, his trainer, said everything continues to go well. The Derby winner is due tomorrow at Pimlico.

The first Preakness horses arrived yesterday morning, as Nick Zito's pair beat the competition to the Pimlico stakes barn. The Cliff's Edge, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, and Sir Shackleton, winner of the Derby Trial, will get their first look at the track this morning.

Three Preakness entrants breezed yesterday, two at Churchill Downs and one at Philadelphia Park. The other Philadelphia Park horse, long shot Little Matth Man, breezed a half mile in 47 seconds, prompting his trainer, Marty Ciresa, to say: "He was awesome out there today."

At Churchill Downs, Borrego, 10th in the Kentucky Derby, blistered a half mile in 46 seconds, the fastest of 53 works at that distance. Rock Hard Ten also worked at Churchill Downs, covering five furlongs in 1 minute.

Heat may scratch `Funny'

Funny Cide, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness, could be withdrawn from Friday's Pimlico Special if hot, muggy conditions continue in Baltimore. The 4-year-old gelding has a chronic respiratory condition that compromises him in hot weather.

"If it's going to be really hot, then I'm not going to run," said Barclay Tagg, his trainer.

Tagg said he'd decide later this week whether to van Funny Cide down from Belmont Park. Tagg said he'd either send the horse Thursday or Friday.

Frank Carulli, Pimlico oddsmaker, named Funny Cide the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the seven-horse Pimlico Special, a Grade I stakes worth $500,000. He estimated the public would bet this way on the rest of the field: Dynever 5-2; Southern Image 3-1; Midway Road 5-1; Evening Attire 8-1; Bowman's Band 12-1, and Ole Faunty 20-1.

The only Special entry currently at Pimlico is Midway Road, surprising runner-up to Funny Cide in last year's Preakness. Midway Road arrived yesterday on the flight from Kentucky. His trainer, Neil Howard, conditioned last year's Special winner, Mineshaft, who went on to become Horse of the Year.

Wilson improving

Jockey Rick Wilson continues to improve, although he remains at Maryland Shock Trauma Center with head injuries following Saturday's spill at Pimlico.

"Things are looking positive," said John Salzman Jr., the jockey's agent. "He's still being sedated, but the swelling has gone down in his face."

Wilson, 50, was injured when his mount Advance to Go stumbled out of the starting gate during the second race, unseating him and then kicking him in the head.

Fasig-Tipton sale set

The sales company Fasig-Tipton Midlantic will conduct its annual 2-year-olds-in-training auction Monday and next Tuesday at the Timonium Fairgrounds, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. The catalog features 631 horses. The 2-year-olds will be shown under tack and breezed Thursday and Friday, also beginning at 10 a.m.

"This is a loaded-type sale," said Mason Grasty, executive vice president of the sales company. "Water Cannon [the local Preakness entrant] came out of this sale last year."

Probable field for 129th Preakness Stakes

Horse Trainer Jockey Last race Arrives

Smarty Jones John Servis Stewart Elliott 1st, Kentucky Derby Tomorrow

Lion Heart Patrick Biancone Mike Smith 2nd, Kentucky Derby Tomorrow

Imperialism Kristin Mulhall Kent Desormeaux 3rd, Kentucky Derby Today

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

Borrego Beau Greely Victor Espinoza 10th, Kentucky Derby Tomorrow

Eddington Mark Hennig Jerry Bailey 3rd, Wood Memorial Tomorrow

Rock Hard Ten Jason Orman Gary Stevens 3rd, Santa Anita Derby Tomorrow

Little Matth Man Martin Ciresa Undecided 7th, Wood Memorial Friday

Sir Shackleton Nick Zito Rafael Bejarano 1st, Derby Trial Yesterday

Water Cannon Linda Albert Ryan Fogelsonger 1st, Federico Tesio At Bowie

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