- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Cliff’s Edge was withdrawn from today’s 129th Preakness Stakes because of a hoof abscess, and hot weather chased Funny Cide from the $500,000 Pimlico Special yesterday.

Trainer Nick Zito noticed The Cliff’s Edge appeared sore Wednesday but waited until yesterday before declaring the colt out when his right front hoof didn’t improve much. The colt suffered a stone bruise when he lost both front shoes in the Kentucky Derby on May1.

“Sure it’s hard,” Zito said. “But great expectations bring great disappointments. The horse comes first, and we did what’s right for him. After it came out, he was acting more like his normal self [Thursday] afternoon, but he wasn’t the same way [yesterday]. I decided to scratch him as soon as I saw him. It was an easy decision. We pulled his shoes, and we’ll continue to treat him. I’m hoping that having the shoes off will help the healing.”

Zito was unsure whether the fifth-place Derby finisher could enter the Belmont Stakes on June5.

Meanwhile, trainer Barclay Tagg decided not to van Funny Cide from New York after confirming hot and humid conditions here. The 2003 Derby-Preakness champion’s two worst career losses came in similar weather that aggravated a respiratory problem in the gelding. It was 86 degrees at Special post time.

“I scratched because it’s too hot and the air quality’s too bad, and I don’t want to subject him to that,” Tagg told the Daily Racing Form. “It was a tough decision because he is doing very well, and I think he’d like the distance, I know he likes that track, and I thought he would have done well in the race. But I’ve got to do what’s best for him.”

The late scratch caught Funny Cide’s owners by surprise. Seven of Sackatoga Stable’s 10 partners were in the grandstand autographing posters and a new book on the 4-year-old for fans.

Funny Cide may enter the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap on May31 at Belmont Park or the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap run June19 at Suffolk Downs.

Advance wagering

Smarty Jones was the heavy 2-5 Preakness favorite after $116,937 were wagered in advance yesterday.

Imperialism was the 6-1 second choice with Rock Hard Ten and Lion Heart both 8-1. The rest of the field were long shots. Eddington was 20-1, Water Cannon and Borrego 25-1, Sir Shackleton 50-1, Song of the Sword 55-1 and Little Matth Man 60-1.

Elliott responds

Smarty Jones jockey Stewart Elliott said he has been sober for four years after blaming alcoholism for his legal problems, which included an assault conviction. The rider was fined $1,000 by Kentucky officials Thursday for failing to note the conviction on his jockey’s license for the Kentucky Derby. Stewart said subsequent media attention was the harsher penalty.

“I have nothing to hide,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of personal problems, and I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, but that’s behind me. I just want to look ahead to the future, and hopefully all that mess is behind me.”

Elliott delivered a flawless Derby ride as Smarty Jones’ owners, Roy and Patricia Chapman, risked using a first-time Triple Crown jockey instead of Jerry Bailey, who became available the previous day when his mount was scratched. The Chapmans and trainer John Servis knew of Elliott’s conviction but have used him throughout Smarty Jones’ career.

“I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like Stew,” said Servis, who also hunts and fishes with Elliott. “He’s so calm and cool. There’s nobody in the country that could have ridden a better race [in the Derby].”

Down the stretch

Trainer Bob Baffert’s Yearly Report took the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes under jockey Jerry Bailey. The 3-5 favorite outlasted a stretch run by Pawyne Princess to cover 11/8 miles in 1:51 3/5. … Forest Music won the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes for owner Michael Gill’s fourth victory on the card. Among My Souvenirs was destroyed after breaking her ankle near the eighth pole. …

Friel’s For Real won for the third time in Maryland this year after being shipped from her Philadelphia Park base, taking the $150,000 Pimlico Distaff. … Preakness entrant Lion Heart will saddle in the indoor paddock instead of the turf course. Trainer Patrick Biancone wants to keep the colt out of the sun.

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