BALTIMORE - If there's such a thing as hometrack advantage in horse racing, then Cherokee's Boy could make history in the Preakness.
The Maryland-bred colt never has lost at Pimlico, and jockey Ryan Fogelsonger is the leading money winner at the track this year. That should bode well for Cherokee's Boy, who is spending the week at his stable in nearby Bowie.
A year ago, Maryland-bred Magic Weisner finished second in the Preakness. Starting from the No. 1 post, Cherokee's Boy will seek to become the first Maryland-bred to win the middle jewel of the Triple Crown since Deputed Testamony in 1983.
"We're all overdue," said Gary Capuano, the Maryland-based trainer for Cherokee's Boy. "Hopefully, one of the three Maryland-breds wins the race - preferably mine."
Cherokee's Boy was listed at 15-1 in the morning line. The other two Maryland horses, Foufa's Warrior and New York Hero, were at 20-1.
Of those three, Cherokee's Boy has enjoyed the most success at Pimlico, improving to 3-0 by prevailing in the Federico Tesio Stakes on April 19.
"He likes Pimlico and likes the rail," Capuano said.
The same can be said for Fogelsonger, who ranks second in the nation in victories this year.
Cherokee's Boy has won six of 12 starts. No Tesio winner has won the Preakness, but this colt has the potential to pull it off - especially with Fogelsonger in the saddle.
After winning the 2002 Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice rider of the year, Fogelsonger has enjoyed similar success this season and knows just about every square inch of the oval track at Pimlico.
"Pimlico is known for speed on the rail. If you get any kind of trip and don't have to use your horse too much early, then the rail is the place to be," he said.
MIDDLING MIDWAY: It isn't often that a trainer considers his Preakness entrant to be the second-best horse in the stable, but such is the case with Midway Road.
A 20-1 long shot, Midway Road will move from allowance to Grade 1 competition when he runs in the Preakness. In contrast, Mineshaft will seek his seventh win in 14 races in today's Pimlico Special.
"Midway Road is a lightly raced young horse who is a little short on seasoning," trainer Neil Howard said. "He's had a few setbacks along the way - nothing drastic - but he hasn't had a chance to really prove himself in this kind of company."
Owner William Farish sent Midway Road to the Preakness after the horse ran away from the field in an allowance race in Keeneland.
"This is a little out of character for us, but we're going to give it a shot," Howard said.
Two things that could work in Midway Road's favor: rain on Saturday, and the No. 6 post, which has produced more Preakness winners than any other post.
"We're very happy with the draw, and the horse will love it if it rains," Howard said.
PRAISED SAINT: Lisa Lewis will be the 11th female trainer to saddle a horse in the Preakness - the second from her family.
Lewis will follow the lead of her mother, Penny Lewis, who finished ninth with Hegar in 1993.