Preakness Stakes Notebook

May 20, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

Funny Cide favored in Schaefer

Funny Cide, the 2003 Preakness winner, who is recovering from a nagging back injury that sent the gelding on an eight-race losing streak before he won his last time out, will attempt to make it two straight today in the Grade III $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap.

The 8-5 favorite faces six other older horses, including Andromeda's Hero, a 4-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus, trained by Nick Zito.

"This is the right spot for him," said Funny Cide trainer Barclay Tagg, explaining his decision to run him in the Schaefer instead of the more ambitious Grade I Pimlico Special yesterday. Tagg said he is determined to keep to a conservative schedule to help Funny Cide regain his confidence.

Ah Day, the Tesio Stakes winner, who had been considered for the Preakness, is the 8-5 favorite in the $100,000 Sir Barton today and will run against six other starters. In the field are two trained by Todd Pletcher, High Cotton, who was on the Derby trail until a troubled trip in the Arkansas Derby produced a ninth-place finish, and Ultimate Goal, a Storm Cat colt who comes in off two victories.

Derby winner has a short ride

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro arrived at Pimlico yesterday afternoon, having shared a van ride with fellow Preakness contender Diabolical from their Fair Hill Training Center stables in Cecil County.

"It was a real pleasure to take him back to Fair Hill and let him be a horse for a week," said assistant trainer Peter Brette as he settled Barbaro into Stall 40, the traditional Kentucky Derby winner's stall. "It was pretty quiet there. He relaxes there. He's home."

Brette said there is no reason to expect a different horse today from the one who dominated at Churchill Downs.

"He's a man now," he said. "I think at Churchill he showed what a classy animal he is. He'll settle in straight away here, also. He's a real professional."

Greeley's Legacy, Like Now and Bernardini arrived at the track by 4:15 p.m. yesterday. The last to arrive will be Sweetnorthernsaint, who bunks at Laurel Park. He was due around 6:30 a.m. today.

They're big fans of Barbaro in N.Y., too

William Nader, vice president of the New York Racing Association, has been around the Preakness Stakes barn area this week. A few days ago, some reporters started asking him what he'd like to see happen in the Preakness.

"I jokingly said the biggest race in New York this year is the Preakness," he said yesterday. "But it might well be true."

A win by Barbaro today in the Preakness could mean the difference between a crowd of 60,000 for the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, and one that exceeds 100,000.

Nader said that when Secretariat went for the Triple Crown 33 years ago, a crowd of about 70,000 showed up to watch the Belmont, and that was considered big at the time. Now, he said, with the increased and diverse media outlets covering the races, a Barbaro victory here could be enormous for New York.

"In truth, if Barbaro wins and there's a chance for a Triple Crown, it could double our attendance," Nader said. "I know we're not supposed to cheer, but a Barbaro victory is great for the Belmont and great for the industry. It's been [28] years since we've had a Triple Crown winner."

Pool Land sets mark

Pool Land, the prohibitive betting choice, out-kicked Josh's Madelyn through the lane to shatter the stakes record in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Distaff Stakes yesterday.

Winning by a length, Pool Land completed the race in 1:42.71, .09 of a second better than the record set by Summer Colony four years ago. Trained by Todd Pletcher, she scored her fifth victory in six lifetime starts under Garrett Gomez.

In the Grade III event, it was Pool Land's first graded triumph.

Wildcat Bettie B wins

Wildcat Bettie B narrowly missed the stakes record of 1:10 while winning the 21st running of the $125,000, Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes in 1:10.05 over six furlongs under Ramon Dominguez.

In her fourth lifetime victory in seven starts, the 3-year-old filly took full command on the final turn and easily held off a late run by California invader Press Camp, who had some traffic trouble earlier. The post-time favorite, G City Gal, was a distant third.

3 in row for Gilded Gold

The speedy Gilded Gold scored a third straight win in the $75,000 Very One Stakes, covering five furlongs on the turf in 57.37. Bright Gold, second in the past two meetings with Gilded Gold, overcame the No. 13 post to edge Kiss Me Katie for place money.

Et cetera

Morty Mittenthal, 59, grew up two blocks from Pimlico Race Course and went to his first Preakness in 1960 when Bally Ache won. From that moment, he was hooked.

Now a producer in California who concentrates mostly on golf commercials, Mittenthal has retained his interest in racing and has united with retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey to produce two DVDs for the semi-regular racetrack goer. The DVDs cover everything from jockeys, trainers and veterinarians to a horse's body language.

"I'm really proud of it," said Mittenthal, who is also proud of his brother Herb, whose horse Honor Student won yesterday's second Pimlico race. ...

Other than Nick Zito (Hemingway's Key) and Kiaran McLaughlin (Like Now), no trainer in today's Preakness has had a horse in the race before.

smm2me@aol.com

Sun reporter Kent Baker contributed to this article.

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