- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

Smarty Jones will enter the 129th Preakness Stakes after galloping yesterday for the first time since winning the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer John Servis said the colt will arrive for the May15 classic at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Wednesday, hours before the post position draw. Servis had been leaning toward continuing the quest for the first Triple Crown championship in 26 years but awaited Smarty Jones’ on-track return before committing.

Exercise rider Pete Van Trump, who weighs 170 pounds, stood in the irons during the 11/2-mile gallop at Philadelphia Park to prevent Smarty Jones from working too quickly. The colt didn’t even take his usual breather midway through the gallop.

“Today he showed me he’s ready to go on,” Servis said. “He looked great, super actually. Once he hits the race track, he knows he’s supposed to do something. He puts his game face on and as soon as he’s done, he mellows right out and walks home. That’s the maturity that enables him to be the horse he is today.”

Servis wasn’t surprised by Smarty Jones’ smart effort. The colt has trained consistently well since February.

“He goes out and trains like he wants to be the best there is,” Servis said, “like a prize fighter getting ready for a fight who trains hard to make sure he’s at his best. What’s made him so special is, he’s been able to overcome what he’s overcome and matured into such a quiet, gentle horse, but when you take him out and put that tack on him, he trains like he’s going into the last race of his career.”

Lion Heart trainer Patrick Biancone has long been impressed by Smarty Jones’ workouts.

“He’s a galloping machine,” Biancone said. “After I saw him train [at Churchill Downs before the Derby], I said to my people, ‘This is going to be a tough cookie.’”

Smarty Jones is expected to draw a large crowd when he gallops today. The mayor of Bensalem, Pa., where the track is located, will attend the outing. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell will declare tomorrow “Smarty Jones Day.”

Meanwhile, Little Matth Man is closer to becoming the eighth member of the field. Stabled near Smarty Jones, Little Matth Man missed the Derby with a throat injury. He finished seventh in the Wood Memorial on April10. Trainer Marty Ciresa changed shoes on the colt’s sore feet and will discard blinkers for the Preakness.

Sir Shackleton is being considered for the Preakness or the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on the undercard. A good workout tomorrow at Churchill Downs probably would send him to the Preakness.

Notes — Trainer Barclay Tagg said he won’t ship 2003 Derby-Preakness winner Funny Cide for the $500,000 Pimlico Special (May14) until the day before at the earliest. Funny Cide may even be vanned from New York on race day. … Last year’s Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando is expected for the $200,000 Dixie Stakes on May 15. … Friday Servis will gain the traditional honor of throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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