Lion Heart should be in prime position to make another run at Smarty Jones on Saturday in the Preakness Stakes.
Trainer Patrick Biancone's colt drew the inside post for the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, presumably right where he can make another dash to the front as he did in leading much of the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Lion Heart, under Mike Smith, was caught in the final mucky three-eighths of a mile by Smarty Jones and finished second.
Pimlico's speed bias along the inside lanes, where the track is harder, could make Lion Heart's early bid even stronger.
If Lion Heart is able to blaze ahead, the Preakness' shorter distance - 1 3/16 miles compared to the Derby's 11/4 - may not leave Smarty Jones enough room for a late charge. Smarty Jones, which will break from the seventh post under jockey Stewart Elliott, has shown an ability to rate off the pace despite his urge to go to the front, however, and an 11-horse field will leave him less traffic to negotiate.
Imperialism, a closer who finished third in the Derby, drew the eighth position Wednesday.
Smarty Jones, the first undefeated colt since Seattle Slew (1977) to win the Derby, was installed as an 8-5 favorite with Lion Heart second at 3-1 and Imperialism at 5-1.
Smarty Jones trainer John Servis is hoping there is luck in the number seven.
"He won the Southwest and the Rebel Stakes from No. 7, and the Kentucky Derby was his seventh win in a row," he said.
Trainer Nick Zito said The Cliff's Edge, fifth in the Kentucky Derby after losing two shoes in the mud, may not run after the discovery of a bruised right front foot Wednesday morning. He drew the fourth post.
The son of Gulch, who ran second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, walked the shedrow and galloped after the injury was discovered and was walking "a little funny," Zito said, during his bath.
"It's just one of those day-to-day things," Zito told The Thoroughbred Times. "I'm not going to be stupid about this horse. That's period. But if he's getting better and we can train him, let's see what happens."
ADVERTISMENTS: The Maryland Jockey Club issued a set of rules similar to those at Churchill Downs in governing how jockeys may display sponsor logos before and during the Preakness.
Jockeys are allowed to wear logos on the breeches and neckwear only, as long as they do not conflict with existing corporate partners of Pimlico Race Course. Agents and family are bound by the same restrictions in the paddock, Winner's Circle, and cupola, where television exposure is high.
A United States Circuit Court in Louisville, Ky., ruled days before the Derby that jockeys have a constitutional right to advertise products on their uniforms.
Sports agent Leigh Steinberg, one of the more recognizable power brokers in his business, announced this week that his firm will help Jockeys Management Group leverage those rights in the future.
Jockeys have been allowed to bear advertising in California since 2002.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS: Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, was installed as a 2-1 favorite for the Grade I Pimlico Special for 4-year-olds and up over 1 3/16th miles. The seven-horse field includes three Grade I winners (Funny Cide, Southern Image and Evening Attire) and last year's Preakness runnerup, Midway Road, who won the Grade III Ben Ali Handicap by 111/4 lengths at Keeneland in April.
Funny Cide, whose odyssey from obscure New York-bred owned by a bunch of old high school chums to near Triple Crown winner was the story of 2003, could become the seventh horse to win the Preakness and the Special. He would join elite company including War Admiral, Whirlaway and Citation.
Servis and Elliott will likely saddle the favorite in the Preakness, but their entry in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was listed as the morning line long shot.
Pilfer, owned by Fox Hill Farms, will make just her second start in the Grade I filly-equivalent to the Preakness and is listed at 30-1.
Before Smarty Jones, Servis considered 2000 Black-Eyed Susan-winner Jostle his best horse.