Horse racing: Caracortado sets sights on the Preakness
By MIKE FARRELL
For The Associated Press
BALTIMORE — Caracortado had the longest journey to join the field for the Preakness on Saturday.
The chestnut gelding bred in California will be making the first start outside his native state when he faces 11 rivals in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
He had to be an early riser to make the trip. He left Santa Anita at 2:45 in the morning on Wednesday to catch a flight. The plane made a stop in Louisville to pick up eight other Preakness runners, including Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. Everyone arrived safely at Pimlico by 4 p.m. local time.
Caracortado is 10-1 on the Preakness morning from post No. 9. He has already beaten long odds to this point. He is the product of an unraced mare, Mons Venus, sired by a California stallion, Cat Dreams who ran only one time and carried a very modest stud fee only $1,500.
"There wasn't a whole lot of thought that went into it," said Mike Machowsky, Caracortado's owner, breeder and trainer. "My buddy was standing the stud. He was a new stallion who raced only once. He was 1-for-1; he was well-bred and he looked like he had some ability."
Paul Atkinson has the return mount aboard Caracortado, whom he has ridden in all seven starts, including five straight wins to begin the gelding's career. Most recently, Caracortado ran fourth in the Santa Anita Derby.
INJURED IKE: A left hind leg injury knocked Hurricane Ike out of the Preakness, making this a Triple Crown to forget for trainer John Sadler.
He had high hopes heading into the Kentucky Derby, where he saddled Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy and Arkansas Derby winner Line of David. Sidney's Candy faded to 17th after chasing the early pace, finishing one position better than his stablemate.
The Preakness was a chance for Sadler, one of the top trainers in Southern California, to regroup with Hurricane Ike, the Derby Trial winner.
Sadler, back home at Hollywood Park, got the bad news in a morning phone call from assistant Larry Benevidez, who stayed behind at Churchill Downs to supervise the preparations for the Preakness.
Hurricane Ike might have aggravated an old injury, one that developed last fall at Santa Anita and kept him sidelined until March.
There is one silver lining for Sadler: the injury does not appear to be career threatening.
"It's disappointing, but what can you do? Sometimes they don't cooperate," he said. "Hopefully, we'll get him into some big races later this year."
MELLOW WAYNE: D. Wayne Lukas says the passing years have had a calming effect.
The Hall of Fame trainer turns 75 on Sept. 2. He's here with Dublin, 10-1 from post No. 12, and Northern Giant, 30-1 from post No. 4, in a quest for his sixth Preakness win, which would leave him one shy of the career mark set by Robert Wyndham Walden (1875-1888).
Lukas claims he doesn't get as riled up as he used to.
"It's old age taking over," he said. "You don't fight it nearly as bad as you did in 1980. As you get older, you roll with things. I'm a lot more relaxed."
That's a good thing, because a cool head was needed on the trouble-filled trip from Kentucky from Baltimore.
Lukas loaded four racehorses — the two Preakness runners; filly Tidal Pool, who is the morning line favorite for the Black-Eyed Susan on Friday; and Flying Private, fourth in last year's Preakness — along with stable pony Poncho onto two vans that left Churchill Downs on Tuesday. One of the vans broke down at a rest stop in Pennsylvania in the parking lot of a McDonald's.
Told it would take six to eight hours for a replacement truck to arrive, Lukas took charge. He reconfigured the stalls on the functioning truck and loaded the four racehorses aboard. It created an unexpected show for the diners under the golden arches as they watched the horses milling about.
"They thought we were going to increase the quality of their hamburgers," Lukas said. "We really didn't have that in mind."
Repacked and loaded, the functioning van took off and pulled into Pimlico shortly before 6 p.m., about 40 minutes behind schedule, according to Lukas.
Poncho, left behind to wait for the replacement truck, didn't arrive until 2 a.m.
"I really felt good I was sitting in the other truck," Lukas said. "If I had been on an airplane, they would have had to make a decision. I don't know if they would have made the same one."
LOOKING GOOD: The persistent rain in the Baltimore area is expected to clear out Friday night, brightening the outlook for the Preakness.
The forecast calls for a sunny afternoon on Saturday with temperatures in the mid 70s, continuing the recent Preakness pattern. The last six renewals have been run over a fast track. The strip was labeled good in 2003 when Funny Cide added the Preakness to his Kentucky Derby victory.
The last Preakness run in the slop was 1983 when Maryland-bred Deputed Testamony splashed home a 2ﬂ-length winner over Desert Wine with Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo a distant sixth.