Bill Donovan no longer has to worry about his horse missing the Preakness field for want of enough earnings.
"We're in, definitely," the trainer of Dash For Dotty said yesterday morning. "I knew it when they brought over my Preakness jackets."
Finally, Dash For Dotty is getting some good fortune after a disappointment in the Blue Grass Stakes and a controversy that kept the gelding out of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, the major prep for the Preakness.
Donovan could find easier pickings on the 3-year-old schedule, but the horse's owner, Henry Rosenberg Jr., chairman of the board of Crown Central Petroleum, wanted to take a shot at his hometown's biggest race.
"Sure, we could have found easier spots," said the trainer. "But Mr. Rosenberg wants to run here. He wants to have some fun with his friends. I sympathize with him. It's not every day you get a horse of this caliber, and you might not have another."
It is Donovan's best horse since Lost Code, a $2 million winner, but a non-participant in the Triple Crown series.
"Things kind of dried up after Lost Code," he said. "We soared with the eagles for a long time, but when we came down, we came down hard."
Dash For Dotty thrived while wintering in Florida, running second to Pistols And Roses by 1 1/4 lengths while coming from 14 behind in the Everglades, then winning several allowance races at Gulfstream Park. He won in the mud and on the turf.
But while Donovan was preparing the horse for the Kentucky Derby, Dash For Dotty "bounced" with a ninth in the Blue Grass on April 11, almost 15 lengths behind Pistols And Roses.
"We still don't know why that happened," he said. "We searched souls and probed minds and can't figure it out."
That was his last race. Dash For Dotty was being pointed to the Tesio April 25 after the Derby plans were scrubbed, but a stir arose over how he was nominated. He did not run.
"Mr. Rosenberg and I didn't want to get involved in it," said Donovan. "It was best left alone because we could do nothing but create ill will."
So, the horse will enter the Preakness with more than a month away from competition and Donovan said "he needed that."
The trainer was pleased with the final serious workout, 1 minute, 26 4/5 seconds over seven furlongs Monday at Pimlico.
Dash For Dotty was bred at recently-sold Calumet Farm, the record-holder with seven winning Preakness horses and also home of Alydar, the runner-up to the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, in all three races in 1978.
He will carry the most weight of his career (4 pounds higher than the 122 previous tops) and will be a decided long shot.
Donovan is hoping for a fast pace, because Dash For Dotty is a closer who likes to mount a furious rally. With more speed in the Preakness (Alydeed, Speakerphone) than in the Kentucky Derby, the race may set up nicely for him.
"But it's not going to be easy," said Donovan. "Facing reality, this is an awful tough spot. But you never know."
Ask the connections of Bee Bee Bee (18-1 in 1972), Aloma's Ruler (7-1 in 1982) and Deputed Testamony (14-1 in 1983), local ** runners who grabbed the black-eyed Susans.
0 Dash For Dotty has that same look about him.