- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

BALTIMORE — It was a gratifying Preakness Stakes debut for Maryland native Michael Trombetta, but not a winning one as Sweetnorthernsaint finished second yesterday at Pimlico Race Course, 51/4 lengths behind Bernardini.

Sweetnorthernsaint, who was seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, ran the kind of race that put him on the Derby Trail earlier this spring, but was passed by Bernardini near the top of the stretch and did not threaten down the lane of the 1 3/16-mile race.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux said Sweetnorthernsaint tore his quarter off, “which is like pulling your thumb off,” at the start of the race. When the horse’s hind leg slightly clipped his front leg, a piece of the colt’s skin was torn off.

Sweetnorthernsaint rebounded quickly and was second after a quarter mile.

“Brother Derek took us to the pedal and I had to go full throttle to the half-mile pole,” Desormeaux said. “It was not a conventional race where you get to cruise to the half-mile pole.”

Sweetnorthernsaint was third at the half-mile mark and second after three-quarters of a mile. Brother Derek and Like Now faded and Sweetnorthernsaint was passed by Bernardini.

One of the surprises of the race was Hemingway’s Key, who closed from seventh to finish third. Hemingway’s Key had finished 11th, eighth, sixth and eighth in his previous four stakes efforts.

On the undercard

Ah Day, who was under Preakness consideration, finished fifth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton Stakes. Ah Day was defeated by nearly 12 lengths, breaking a two-race winning streak.

“[Jockey] Ryan [Fogelsonger] said he had no horse at the half-mile pole,” trainer King Leatherbury said. “That’s the first bad race he’s thrown in.” …

Artie Schiller, who has earned more than $2 million in his career, was defeated by former Breeders Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now in the Dixie Stakes. Artie Schiller finished third. “The rabbit [early leader Shake The Bank] went out and did his job,” Artie Schiller jockey Garrett Gomez said. “On the far turn, I asked him to pick it up and he ran really hard down t he lane, but couldn’t hold on.” …

Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, finished third in the Schaefer Handicap, behind Master Command and Andromeda’s Hero. Funny Cide dropped to 9-for-30 lifetime and has won one race since October 2004. …

At Belmont Park, the Grade II Peter Pan served as a Belmont Stakes prep race and Sunriver — considered the best 3-year old in Todd Pletcher’s barn but was unable to run in the Kentucky Derby because of not enough earnings — passed Lewis Michael near the wire.

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