Point Given's triumph at Pimlico deprived racing of any chance for a Triple Crown winner - for the 23rd year in a row. Monarchos, who prevailed in the Kentucky Derby, ran sluggishly in the Preakness and finished sixth.Shifting tactics after a disappointing Derby, jockey Gary Stevens allowed Point Given to relax early at the back of the pack and then accelerate steadily around horses. Surging around the final turn, he encountered his last obstacle, Congaree, his stablemate. The two dueled briefly until Point Given, the massive chestnut, pulled ahead and drew away for a 2 1/4 -length victory.
With his winning time of 1 minute, 55 2/5 seconds, Point Given returned $6.60, $5 and $4.
A P Valentine overtook Congaree in the final strides for second place. Dollar Bill, after another troubled trip, charged extremely wide for fourth.
Stevens said he knew by the first turn that the day belonged to Point Given.
"I thought, `The race is over with. Just keep him out of trouble,' " Stevens said. "I felt like I was loaded for bear every step of the way."
Despite Point Given's overpowering performance, the jockey said he believes the colt won the Preakness at 75-percent capacity. He said the country has yet to see Point Given at full throttle.
"For whatever reason, he wasn't himself in the Derby," Stevens said. "The real Point Given showed up today. Now all of America knows what a great horse he is."
John Ward Jr., trainer of Monarchos, said that he didn't know why his Kentucky Derby winner ran poorly, but that "I had a terrible feeling going into the first turn. I just think he was fighting the racetrack. He was trying to run hard, but he didn't do anything. We all have those days."
Ward, an even-keeled Kentucky horseman, said Monarchos came out of the Preakness more tired than he had exited the Derby. And in the Derby, Monarchos ran the second-fastest time in history, slower than only Secretariat's.
Asked whether he was as disappointed over losing the Preakness as he was high over winning the Derby, Ward said: "If you don't know how to lose in this business, you'd better get out. I was shocked to win the Derby. This is the normal part of racing, getting beat."
Ward said he wanted to make sure Monarchos had no physical problems before committing the colt to the Belmont. Richard Mulhall, president of The Thoroughbred Corp., which owns Point Given, said the Preakness winner would run in the Belmont as long as he remains healthy.
Just as he was in the Derby, Point Given was favored in the Preakness. He and Monarchos were 2-1 on the odds board, but more money was bet on Point Given. Like Bob Baffert, Point Given's trainer, bettors had not given up on Point Given.
"We didn't lose any confidence in the horse," Baffert said. "We were very disappointed after the Derby, scratching our heads. But he looked great today."
For Baffert, this was his third Preakness victory. He won in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet, respectively.
Like Real Quiet, who won from the No. 10 post position, Point Given drew the outside post, No. 11 this year. And like Real Quiet, Point Given handled it with aplomb.
After breaking eagerly in the Derby and chasing a wildly fast pace, Point Given broke last in the Preakness. He had only two horses beaten as he leaned four-wide into the first turn, Bay Eagle and the struggling Monarchos.
Down the backstretch Point Given, still racing wide, picked off horses one by one. He charged into the final turn, Stevens riding low in green and white silks.
Point Given roared quickly into third, outside Richly Blended, the tiring pacesetter, and Congaree, the overeager speedster. At the head of the stretch, the Baffert pair hooked up.
Stevens looked over his shoulder for Monarchos. But the Derby winner was nowhere in sight. Point Given lugged inside and nearly collided with Congaree. But he straightened out after a couple of strides and left Congaree to battle for the spoils.
Stevens said Point Given looked into the crowd and lost his concentration. Baffert called the colt "a big clown."
Baffert was so confident in his two sparking 3-year-olds before the Kentucky Derby that he said he thought he had a chance of running 1-2. As he watched his pair turning for home in the Preakness, he thought that would happen here.
"I really wanted to run 1-2," Baffert said. "Congaree, he ran his heart out. Jerry just couldn't get him back off the pace."
Baffert had hired Jerry Bailey to ride Congaree in the Preakness in hopes that the Hall of Fame jockey could persuade Congaree to relax. But Congaree, a headstrong son of Arazi, chased the leader, as he did in the Derby, and held on with determination.
Still, the Preakness belonged to Point Given, the anointed one before the Derby. He was supposed to be racing's next hero, perhaps even its next Triple Crown winner.
The Derby eluded him. The Preakness brought redemption.