Derby winner settles into Pimlico quarters Horse racing notes

Kentucky Derby winner Strike The Gold arrived at Pimlico today after an overnight van ride from Churchill Downs.

The horse was accompanied in the truck by five other horse and his trainer, Nick Zito, who rode with the horse for the entire 10-hour trip.


"I can't let Strike The Gold get too far away from me now," Zit said. He added that the horse was not flown to Pimlico, like many other Preakness starters, because "if you can't make the right connections, you can be sitting at an airport waiting on a van for hours anyway."

Strike The Gold was not stabled in stall 40, the traditional Pimlico stall for Derby winners.


"He is comfortable with two older horses stabled on either side of him," Zito said. Senator To Be, who will run in another Pimlico stakes next week, occupies stall 40. And on the other side of Strike The Gold is Thirty Six Red, another Zito-trained stakes winner.

Strike The Gold is expected to gallop on the Pimlico trac tomorrow. "He will go to the track every day," Zito said. "I might work him next Tuesday."

* CHARLES TOWN SOLD: A press conference was called today to announce the sale of Charles Town, the popular track in West Virginia. Details were unavailable.

* CHANGE OF FOCUS: Fly So Free, latest victim of the 2-year-old champions' jinx, apparently will continue his career as a sprinter.

Loser of two in a row and a disappointing fifth in the 1 1/4 -mile Kentucky Derby, Fly So Free will pass up the final two races in the Triple Crown, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes June 8 -- for less demanding distances.

"He's sound, he's beautiful, but I don't want to destroy him at long distances," Fly So Free's trainer, Scotty Schulhofer, told the New York Times. "I just don't think he wants to go 1 1/4 miles."

* LATEST LINE: Pimlico oddsmaker Jeff Weissman has readjusted his morning line for the Pimlico Special. Weissman has made Summer Squall and Unbridled the 3-1 co-favorites, and made Jolie's Halo and Farma Way the co-third choices at 7-2.

Weissman has made the Pimlico early line for five years, "but thi is the first time I've made co-favorites," he said. "The horses are so close. There is no law that says one horse has to be favored over the other."


Originally, Weissman had made Jolie's Halo second choice t Summer Squall.

"But I looked over the record of Unbridled [last year's champio 3-year-old], and decided he'd get more play than Jolie's Halo," Weissman said. "Then, I decided against making Summer Squall the clear favorite. There is the question of him going 1-3/16 miles after only one sprint race."