Closing statement: `Lawyer' out

Ankle chip keeps trainer Holthus from running horse

Lewis Michael possible addition



After days of shifting back and forth on whether Lawyer Ron would be able to compete in the Preakness on May 20, trainer Bob Holthus made it clear yesterday that his horse won't be running.

The loss of Lawyer Ron brings the confirmed Preakness field to six: Barbaro, Sweetnorthernsaint, Brother Derek, Like Now, Bernardini and Hemingway's Key.

At Fair Hill, where Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro lives, trainer Michael Matz said he has no clear idea what the competition will be for his horse and therefore is not worrying about it. He also said he is not yet sure when next week the horse will ship to Pimlico Race Course.

"Whoever runs, hopefully, in a smaller field everyone will get a fairer trip for their horses and we'll just see what happens," Matz yesterday said during a conference call. "Right now, we're still just enjoying our Kentucky Derby victory."

Holthus told reporters at his Churchill Downs barn that X-rays revealed a small chip in Lawyer Ron's right hind ankle and that he will undergo surgery today in Lexington, Ky.

"The chip is so small," Holthus said, "if he was a cheap horse you wouldn't have thought anything of it."

But Lawyer Ron, who finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby after an impressive win in the Arkansas Derby, is not a cheap horse. Three days before the Kentucky Derby, 80 percent ownership was sold to Audrey Haisfield, owner of Stonewall Farm in Versailles, Ky., for a reported $6 million.

"We will take care of his minor problem now so that he will be in a great position to participate in the major 3-year-old events this summer," Haisfield said. "The timing is unfortunate to miss the rest of the Triple Crown, but our ultimate goal is to have Lawyer Ron in top condition for the Breeders' Cup Classic-G1 at Churchill Downs" this fall.

Holthus said the colt will be out of training for 30 to 40 days.

Among those who will run, as long as he stays healthy, is Sweetnorthernsaint. Trainer Michael Trombetta said yesterday that his horse had a worse Derby trip than he originally thought.

"I had a chance to look at the Derby again last night," he said. "He ran a big race despite the adversity. ... But he seemed to have recovered quickly and quite honestly, I think it's part of growing up."

Trombetta said he has decided to keep Sweetnorthernsaint at his home base at Laurel Park until the morning of the Preakness.

"I don't think I need to disrupt his routine for a gallop at Pimlico," he said. "We'll just stay here, where it is quiet and relaxed, and van over on race morning."

Another possible entry emerged yesterday. Trainer Wayne Catalano said Lewis Michael, fourth in the Illinois Derby behind winner Sweetnorthern- saint, could run in the Preakness, though he is leaning more toward the Peter Pan.

Preakness stakes

May 20

Pimlico Race Course

post time // 6:05 p.m.

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