May 15, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Sun racing reporter Tom Keyser comments on the 129th Preakness:

Lion Heart

He has led in each of his past three races, only to get caught in the stretch - at one mile to Imperialism, at 1 1/8 miles to The Cliff's Edge, at 1 1/4 miles to Smarty Jones. He'll likely be on the lead again playing the same game: Catch me if you can.


His 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby wasn't indicative of his ability - or his chances in the Preakness. He got stuck in traffic and struggled in the slop. He's continually mentioned as a possible upsetter or runner-up at long odds. He has yet to win a stakes.

Little Matth Man

He has won only three of 12 races, encountered breathing problems in the Wood Memorial (finishing seventh) and prepared for the Preakness in obscurity at Philadelphia Park. He's a closer with a chance only if the speedsters sizzle, then fizzle.

The Cliff's Edge

He had perhaps the best chance of upsetting Smarty Jones, but a foot problem forced his withdrawal from the race. Song of the Sword

He was a late entrant who has yet to win a stakes. After winning his first three he finished second in the Illinois Derby, third in the Lexington and 11th in the Kentucky Derby. He encountered trouble in his losing races.

Sir Shackleton

After losing his debut, he has won three straight, including the Derby Trial, which earned his place here. He was a surprise entrant who has never raced farther than one mile or against the best horses. Yesterday, he became trainer Nick Zito's lone hope.

Smarty Jones

His trainer, John Servis, says sooner or later this unbeaten colt will show wear and tear. It hasn't happened yet. He's perfect after seven races, the first unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew. He enters the Preakness as racing's darling.


This will be his 17th start compared with, say, Rock Hard Ten's fourth. He came charging in the Derby - too late after failing to break free until the stretch. His jockey, Kent Desormeaux, says he could have won the Derby - and can win the Preakness.


He has been the "now" horse since a flashy win this winter in Florida. He's bred for the classics, and his jockey, Jerry Bailey, wanted to ride him in the Derby. He's been slow to mature into a fiery competitor, but the raw ability exists for a breakthrough race.

Rock Hard Ten

Gary Stevens flies in from France to ride him. The "wise guys" love him. Like Eddington, he couldn't crack the Derby field because of lack of graded-stakes earnings. He has raced only three times. No horse with three or fewer starts has won the Preakness.

Water Cannon

He's the Maryland-bred hope, based at Bowie, riding a five-race winning streak. He has never raced against such tough horses, but that doesn't mean he can't compete. He's the only Preakness entrant who has raced at Pimlico.

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