"He carries it off like the KGB or CIA," says Izrael, laughing.

Once, Stieff had to stay overnight in New York City before returning to Baltimore. What to do?

"You can't leave it in the garage, you can't walk into a hotel lobby," says Andrea Stieff, Jim's wife.




So Stieff went to his daughter's apartment, put the trophy on the living room table and watched it from the sofa all night.

After the race is over, Stieff delivers the Woodlawn replica to Nick Taylor's shop in Owings Mills, where the winning owner's name and the horse's name are engraved in the polished finish.

"It takes a community of artisans to make the Woodlawn replica. It's not push a button and it's done," says Stieff.

But what happens in these days of multiple owners of a single horse?

Sometimes, they take turns displaying it. But other times the owners — Stieff won't say which ones — ask Preakness officials to order an extra.

"It depends how bad they want it," says Stieff, smiling. "If you melted it down it would be $8,000 worth of silver, so it's not cheap. On the other hand, you can't go out to Macy's and just get one."

There's one other thing Stieff, Izrael and Taylor do. They make the trophies for the winning jockey and trainer.

"Five years ago, Gloria Cinquegrani really challenged us to come up with something that was tied to the Woodlawn Vase," says Stieff of the Maryland Jockey Club official. "At that time, they got Revere bowls. They were nice, but they didn't relate to the trophy.

"We took the base of the Woodlawn Vase and made a one-half size replica loving cup. Now they get something that's part of the Preakness and part of the history."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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