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No bluffing

EquestrianPreakness StakesDanceTriple CrownBelmont StakesKentucky Derby

A horse that had been scorned by jockeys, but was loved by the bettors won the 117th running of the Preakness yesterday at Pimlico Race Course. Pine Bluff became only the second favorite in the last decade to win the race and spoiled the Triple Crown hopes of Lil E. Tee. The Kentucky Derby winner, who bled, according to his trainer, Lynn Whiting, finished fifth.

Lil E. Tee went off a surprising second choice to Pine Bluff, who he had beaten soundly in the Derby.

But Pine Bluff was no short-priced choice. He went off at 7-2 odds, indicating the wide-open nature of the race, and paid $9 to win, the highest return for a Preakness favorite since Totalisator machines were introduced at Pimlico in 1941.

Pine Bluff was ridden for the first time by Chris McCarron, one of the nation's winningest jockeys, who got his start in Maryland in the mid-1970s.

McCarron picked up the mount only Sunday after Craig Perret, Pine Bluff's regular rider, took off the horse to take the mount on Alydeed, yesterday's runner-up.

It was the second time that a jockey had forsaken Pine Bluff for another horse. Jerry Bailey, who had won the Arkansas Derby with the colt, chose to ride Technology in the Triple Crown races instead. Technology, with Bailey aboard, finished sixth yesterday.

The actual running of the Preakness unfolded pretty much according to plan.

Speakerphone, one of two Maryland horses in the race, took the early lead after outrunning Alydeed, Big Sur, Dance Floor and Technology into the first turn.

Speakerphone opened up a 2 1/2 -length lead and held it until he was overhauled by Alydeed near the five-eighths pole.

Alydeed then assumed command and looked like a sure winner until Pine Bluff started his determined run on the outside at the top of the stretch.

Pine Bluff, who had been far behind in eighth in the early stages of the race about seven lengths off the pace, began to pick up horses on the backstretch. He overhauled Alydeed about 40 yards from the wire and won by three-quarters of a length.

Casual Lies finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Alydeed and three-quarters of a length in front of Dance Floor.

"I put him in the clear as soon as I could," McCarron said. "We got jostled by Big Sur coming out of the gate, and he squeezed us back pretty good. I was farther back than I wanted to be. But he ran freely, and I was out from the rail, where I wanted to be. I was confident in the stretch. I was hunting for Lil E. Tee, but when I didn't see him, I went 'hot diggity dog.' "

Pine Bluff is the second Preakness winner for McCarron. He won in 1987 aboard Alysheba. McCarron also won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday with Miss Legality. It was the first time since 1984 (Angel Cordero Jr. with Lucky Lucky Lucky and Gate Dancer) that a jockey had pulled off that Pimlico double.

Pine Bluff ran the 1 3/16ths miles in 1 minute, 55 3/5 seconds, the slowest running of the race since 1988 and 1 3/5 seconds slower than Hansel's time of 1:54 last year.

However, the track was rated "good," not "fast" after heavy rains soaked the surface Friday night.

Pine Bluff paid $9, $5.80 and $4.40. Alydeed returned $7.60 and $3.80 and Casual Lies was $4.20 to show.

The 4-12 exacta returned $66.80 and the 4-12-8 triple returned $519.30.

Pine Bluff is owned by John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, Ark., and is trained by Tom Bohannan. The horse is Anthony's second classic winner. Anthony won the 1980 Belmont Stakes with Temperence Hill.

Pine Bluff, who finished fifth in the Derby, reversed positions yesterday with Lil E. Tee, who won the Derby, but finished fifth yesterday.

Pat Day, Lil E. Tee's jockey, said, "My horse spit the bit out the first time past the wire. He acted like he was fighting the track. He just didn't have that big finish."

Pine Bluff and Lil E. Tee each have 10 points in the Triple Crown bonus series. Casual Lies is third with eight points, followed by Dance Floor with four and Conte Di Savoya with one. The horse with the highest number of points after the Belmont Stakes wins a $1 million bonus.

Yesterday's crowd of 96,865 at Pimlico and the Laurel simulcast site wagered $7,439,308. It was the second highest attendance for the Preakness and the third highest betting total.

Lil E. Tee, at 4.20-1 odds, went off as the longest price for a Derby winner in the Preakness since Proud Clarion went off at 4.30-1 odds in 1967. Proud Clarion finished third.

Perret, who finished second with Alydeed, said, "My horse was giving his best and still digging in. The other horse just got by on him, but he [Alydeed] just kept on fighting."

Alydeed was making only his fifth career start in the Preakness.

Pine Bluff's Preakness victory was the first classic win for Bohannan. "You can't imagine how it feels," Bohannan said. "I'm just churning up inside. We've always held this colt highly in our thoughts and the Derby was a big disappointment. He's the nicest horse I've ever trained."

Bohannan said he wasn't all that concerned when Perret took off Pine Bluff to ride Alydeed.

"I told Mr. Anthony 'this is the rider that took off [eventual winner] Unbridled in the [1990] Breeders' Cup Classic.' "

Anthony, who races as the Loblolly Stable, names his horses after towns in his native states. There is a Pine Bluff, Ark., as well as a site known as Temperence Hill.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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