Sonny Hine is proof that you can go home again.
It's hard to imagine there could be a more popular local winner of the Preakness than the horseman who called Baltimore home for more than two decades.
Hine, 61, can't even get out of the Pimlico parking lot without person after person coming up to swap old tales or wish him good luck in Saturday's race with Technology.
"There's no money here [on the Maryland circuit], but a lot of camaraderie," Hine said. "[Trainers] Bernie Bond, Dick Small, Sid Watters, John DiNatale, they're all friends. They're all rooting for me. They all want to know what happened to my horse in the Derby."
Technology was the second choice in the 18-horse Kentucky Derby, but finished 10th.
He was the "hot" horse in Louisville during Derby week, "I think because everybody saw the way he was working down there. No horse handled or worked over that track any better than he did," Hine said.
So, what happened?
"It was a crazy race. I think everyone is still in a state of shock. Dennis Manning [trainer of Snappy Landing] told me his horse didn't have any speed, but he ended up with the early lead. It was that kind of race," Hine said.
Technology, who drew the No. 2 post position, broke one step behind the bulky field, then was impeded by Al Sabin.
"He rushed the gate twice before they broke," Hine said. "He was all right while they loaded the first 10 horses. But, after that, he got anxious. Scott Savin [managing partner of the syndicate that owns Technology] timed it with his watch, and it took 30 seconds to load the re maining horses. Technology was all twisted up when they did break, and then Jerry [Bailey, the jockey] had to snatch up on him when the other horse [Al Sabin] bolted toward the inside rail.
"If he had broken, we would have been on the pace."
Technology later was checked a couple of times and raced on the inside, the deepest part of the track.
Bailey said: "The holes were moving faster than we were running."
Hine said Bailey is willing to try again in the Preakness.
"Jerry finished 10th in the Derby last year on Hansel, then came back and won the Preakness," Hine said. "He tells me it's deja vu."
Hine, who trains principally for Savin and former Pimlico owner Ben Cohen, has 36 horses in training at Calder Race Course. He moved to the Florida and New Jersey circuit about four years ago and sold his house in Baltimore.
Hine has prospered since the move. He is South Florida's leading trainer, and is tops among all trainers in stakes winners on the Florida circuit during the past four years.
He occasionally returns to Maryland. Hine won three stakes here last year with Coolin It, a colt who popped a splint this winter, but now is training well for his return. In 1990, Hine won four Maryland stakes.
Hine said he has schooled Technology twice in the gate at Pimlico since the horse arrived last week. "I blame myself for what happened in Kentucky," he said. "I spent plenty of time schooling him in the paddock at Churchill Downs, but not the gate."
He plans a light breeze for the colt either today or tomorrow. "I want him a little sharper for the Preakness than I did [for] the Derby," he said.
Hine also has one other concern. Technology, a big, good-feeling colt, broke away from his groom this winter on his way to the paddock at Gulfstream Park, and then missed a race after he ran loose around the track and was scratched.
"I'm not sure how he'll handle the Preakness infield," Hine said.
The trainer probably will ask track operator Joe De Francis for special permission to saddle Technology in the indoor Pimlico paddock and then parade him with the tack on in the outdoor paddock on the turf course.
C7 "We don't want him getting loose again," Hine said.