Originally created 05/03/04

On to the Preakness



LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones licked up his tub of feed, smacked around a net full of hay, looked "great" on Sunday, and is likely headed to the Preakness is two weeks.

The first undefeated Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977 was scheduled to be shipped to Philadelphia Park on Monday or Tuesday to begin resume training for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

The trip to Pimlico would be a few days before the May 15 race.

Derby runner-up Lion Heart will be there to have another try at the speedy Smarty Jones, with other Derby horses Limehouse, The Cliff's Edge and Borrego also being considered.

Limehouse, trained by Todd Pletcher, was fourth; The Cliff's Edge, trained by Nick Zito, was fifth; and Borrego was 10th.

Also expected for the 1 3/16ths-mile Preakness at Pimlico are Eddington and Rock Hard Ten, a pair of colts who did not have enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Derby, Cheiron and Water Cannon.

Cheiron is trained by 21-year-old Kristin Mulhall, who sent out Imperialism to a third-place finish in the Derby.

John Servis, who trains Smarty Jones said his little red colt "ate really good last night, played with the hay net and that's how he's come out of the earlier races.

"I couldn't ask to see him any brighter than he was this morning," he added.

Smarty Jones and Lion Heart turned what was supposed to be a wide-open Derby into a two-horse race.

Smarty Jones, with rookie Derby rider Stewart Elliott, aboard, caught the pacesetting Lion Heart near the top of the stretch and then pulled away to win the 1 1/4 -mile race by 2 3/4 lengths.

"My horse ran a great race, but he (Smarty Jones) was the better horse on the day," Lion Heart's trainer Patrick Biancone said, already back at Keeneland with his colt. "I have a world of respect for him. Smarty Jones could be anything."

While Smarty Jones is 7-for-7, with five starts this year, Lion Heart has just five career races - three this year.

Servis said the Pimlico course known for tight turns and a speed bias won't give Lion Heart an edge. However, he said Lion Heart "can easily go forward in a big way" since he's so lightly raced.

A few days before the Derby, Biancone told Servis he expected a two-horse race between Speedy Jones and Lion Heart, and would make a good exacta bet.

"I said to all my owners and all my friends that at the half-mile pole it would be a two-horse race," Biancone said. "It would be my horse and Smarty Jones and I hope we can beat him. And that's just what happened."

Servis said if Smarty Jones is not training to his satisfaction, he wouldn't hesitate to pull him from contention.

"If he does go back to the track and I don't like the way he's training, then he's not going," Servis said. "If I'm not as confident as I was this week, we'll skip it. There are too many races down the line."

The Preakness is limited to 14 starters, but there has not been a full field since 1992.