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This Preakness could be the track's last
By wire services
Published May 21, 2005
BALTIMORE - The blanket of black-eyed Susans that will be placed across the withers of today's Preakness Stakes winner is actually made from yellow Viking daisies, their centers daubed by shoe polish in order to resemble the real article.
The black-eyed Susan, the state flower of Maryland, doesn't bloom until next month, which explains that bit of harmless subterfuge. Of far more concern for local racing enthusiasts, and civic boosters who believe today might be the highlight of the city's calendar, is that the Preakness might never bloom again at weathered and worn Pimlico Race Course.
Old Hilltop, after years of neglect and underfinancing, is more like Old Dustmop and could be for sale, with rumors that Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Pimlico and the Preakness, is considering moving the race. Santa Anita Park in California and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach are the tracks most prominently mentioned.
"It's more than rumors," former Pimlico general manager Chick Lang told the Baltimore Sun.
The problem? If you guessed "money," you can collect.
Maryland has been unable to pass legislation legalizing slot-machine gambling at its tracks, something Magna believes must happen for Pimlico to compete with tracks in West Virginia, Delaware and, starting next year, Pennsylvania.
PIMLICO SPECIAL: Eddington's return to Pimlico was much more successful than Funny Cide's.
Running on a damp, overcast Friday, both horses showed up here for the first time since their separate Preakness appearances, with Eddington winning the $500,000 Pimlico Special and Funny Cide fourth in a seven-horse field before a crowd of 13,265.
Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2003 but winner of only three of 14 starts since, loomed close to the leaders on the far turn, but had no punch through the stretch after jockey Jose Santos moved him to the outside. Funny Cide, running for the first time in almost seven months, was beaten by 8 lengths on a sloppy track.
Eddington, third in last year's Preakness, beat Pollard's Vision by 13/4 lengths to win for the third time in five starts this year. The heavy hitters in the older-male division - Ghostzapper, Rock Hard Ten, Roses In May and Southern Image, winner of the Special a year ago - weren't here.
After Pollard's Vision, the rest of the order of finish was Presidentialaffair, Funny Cide, Eurosilver, Offlee Wild (the 2-1 favorite) and Grand Reward. Badge Of Silver and Second Of June were scratched. Presidentialaffair blew a shoe, and Grand Reward was reported to have displaced his palate.
Eddington, ridden by Eibar Coa, is trained by Mark Hennig. He paid $7.20, running 1 3/16 miles in 1:58.
THE OTHER STAKES: Silmaril won the $107,400 Pimlico Distaff Handicap by three-quarters of a length as Ashado, at 3-10, finished second in a four-horse field; Spun Sugar, owned by Frank Stronach, whose Magna Entertainment owns Pimlico, won the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan; Burnish, trained by Nick Zito, won the $100,000 Miss Preakness; and Gabianna, paying $179.80, won the $75,000 The Very One.