- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
Smith is perfect fit
Question of the Day
BALTIMORE | Mine That Bird co-owner Dr. Leonard Blach got to know Mike Smith in the 1970s when the jockey was riding match races as a teenager in New Mexico.
They struck up a friendship that has lasted more than 30 years, so when Blach discovered he needed a jockey to replace Calvin Borel at the Preakness, he called Smith - who rode Chocolate Candy in the Kentucky Derby - for advice.
“Then he told me he was available,” Blach said. “Of course I didn’t know; I didn’t know whether Chocolate Candy would go back, and he said, ‘No, right now I’m available.’ So I said, ‘Well, you just plan on it.’ ”
Just like that, the Derby winner had a Hall of Fame rider. Smith arrived at Pimlico on Friday and met with Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley. Bob Baffert, whose horse Pioneerof the Nile finished second in the Derby, joked that Borel should’ve gotten the purse and given the owners 10 percent instead of the opposite - more praise for Borel’s rail-hugging ride. But Smith said he didn’t feel any pressure to follow that performance.
“There’s pressure in every race,” Smith said. “If there’s not, then you’re not excited about your job. It’s just how you use that energy. We’re gonna go out there and do our best.”
Born in Roswell, Smith makes Mine That Bird’s New Mexico ties that much stronger. And the connections don’t end there; Smith was the jockey aboard 50-1 shot Giacomo when he won the 2005 Derby.
Smith said he hopes Saturday’s result is the same, adding that a muddy track similar to what was present at Churchill Downs couldn’t hurt. And if the result is the same, what would Blach and co-owner Mark Allen do for the Belmont Stakes if Borel’s new ride, Rachel Alexandra, doesn’t run?
“Mark and I will have to talk about that,” Blach said. “We’re pretty loyal people, so we’ll probably stay like we are. We were fortunate to get Mike.”
Second chance for ‘Pioneer’
Even though Pioneer of the Nile finished second in the Derby, Baffert didn’t hesitate to say he thought his horse got the worst trip in the race. He cited the Ricky Bobby character in “Talladega Nights” by noting, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
“Only race in America - nobody remembers who runs second,” Baffert said. “This is a redeeming race.”
Woolley has been shaking off questions about the lack of respect Mine That Bird is getting. Instead, he suggested that Pioneerof the Nile, the 5-1 second choice on the morning line, is being ignored.
Rachel Alexandra got her first gallop in on the Pimlico dirt Friday morning with exercise rider Dominic Terry. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi said the 8-5 morning-line favorite looks relaxed and happy.
D. Wayne Lukas, who has won the Preakness five times and will run Flying Private and Luv Gov on Saturday, said Rachel Alexandra’s lead-up to the race has been “perfect.”
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq