- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

BALTIMORE — Eddington found Pimlico more receptive without Smarty Jones, winning the $500,000 Pimlico Special yesterday over a stellar field.

Eddington, which ran third in last year’s Preakness Stakes, finally secured a Grade I victory before becoming a stallion next year at Claiborne Farms in Lexington, Ky. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled often has found trouble on the track. He has raced wide on turns, bobbled from the starting gate, been bumped and run into traffic in winning only five of 16 career races with three seconds and six thirds. Trainer Mark Hennig conceded Eddington’s antics were frustrating.

“There was always something,” Hennig said. “It’s a shame he didn’t come along a little earlier in his career. It took him time to put it together.”

Eddington put it together on the final turn. Replicating the late move he used to win the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 5, Eddington passed four rivals entering the stretch and pulled away for a 51/4-length victory over Pollard’s Vision. Eddington covered 1 3/16 miles in the slop in 1:58 while paying $7.20.

Favorite Offlee Wild showed nothing to finish sixth, beating only Grand Reward, who didn’t finish. Funny Cide closed to second entering the final turn before fading to fourth.

“I don’t care what anyone says. He doesn’t like the mud,” trainer Barclay Tagg said.

The Special, one of the nation’s top races for older horses, included 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, Maryland Million Classic victor Presidentialaffair and multi-stakes winner Pollard’s Vision in the seven-horse field, which featured a combined 42 victories and $8.7 million in career earnings.

Earlier, Spun Sugar won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, Burnish took the Miss Preakness Stakes and Silmaril captured the Pimlico Distaff. Gabianna paid $179.80 in taking the Very One Stakes.

‘Alex’ early choice

Afleet Alex was a lukewarm 4-1 favorite after advance wagering on today’s 130th Preakness.

High Fly was the 9-2 second choice, while Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo was 6-1. Derby runner-up Closing Argument was 8-1, with Greeley’s Galaxy, Malibu Moonshine and Scrappy T at 10-1. Wilko and High Limit were 13-1, Noble Causeway 15-1, Hal’s Image 23-1, Galloping Grocer and Sun King 25-1 and Going Wild 30-1.

Galactic work

Greeley’s Galaxy prepared for the Preakness with an unusually fast workout even though most entrants stayed in the shedrow to avoid the rain. Greeley’s Galaxy covered three-eighths of a mile in 34 4/5 seconds in the slop, the morning’s fastest run over that distance.

“The time wasn’t as important as how he came out of it,” assistant trainer Glen Stute said. “He went that fast, came back and wasn’t blowing a puff. He’s jumping all over the place. He really thinks he’s something.”

Meanwhile, Malibu Moonshine won’t even leave his Laurel Park barn until noon. Trainer King Leatherbury said the local long shot will stay in the receiving barn for a short rest before the race rather than the stakes barn.

“We don’t want him to get a complex over there with the super horses,” Leatherbury said jokingly.

Fast track?

The track conditions should be fast today despite more than an inch of rain yesterday. Pimlico drains quickly, so today’s predicted sunny conditions should dry the dirt course. The turf course also is expected to be used. Track superintendent Jamie Richardson said his staff would work overnight using steel floats to remove moisture from the main track.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it will be fast for the Preakness,” Richardson said. “It would take some rain [shortly before the race] to get it back to sloppy.”

New grass series

The Grand Slam of Grass will include four turf races worth $5 million in purses and bonuses at Colonial Downs, Arlington Park and Belmont Park.

Colonial Downs chairman Jeff Jacobs pledged a $3 million bonus to any 3-year old that can sweep the Colonial Turf Cup on June 25 and the Virginia Derby on July 16 at the Providence Forge, Va., track along with the Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 13 at Arlington and the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Oct. 29 at Belmont. Jacobs hopes to increase the payoff to $10 million by 2010. Sixty-seven horses have pre-entered for the Colonial, including five Europeans.

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