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Conte Di Savoya bit too much for Riley


Conte Di Savoya is fast earning a reputation as an equine pit bull.

On Wednesday, he dumped his rider, Walter Guerra, and kicked him in the ribs.

Yesterday, he bit Shelley Riley, trainer of rival Casual Lies.

Riley showed reporters a large bruise at the bottom of her back where the horse had grabbed her as she walked by his stall.

"He's one I'm staying away from," Riley said.

Riley showed friends a sketch of Casual Lies that one of his fans had sent her.

She also received some hate mail from one fan who took her to task for removing Alan Patterson as the horse's rider. Riley switched over to the better-known Gary Stevens for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

In the letter, the writer referred to Riley as "Mrs. Anything-for-a-buck."

"I guess they don't know I turned down all that money [$2.7 million] to sell this horse," Riley said.

Riley said she was going to send the letter to Patterson. "He'll get a laugh over it," Riley said. "We're still good friends."

* Lynn Whiting, trainer of Lil E. Tee, said he thought the Pimlico racing surface was "a bit cuppy" yesterday, "but I'm sure they'll have the water wagons out on it tomorrow."

Whiting said he had only moderately to lightly trained Lil E. Tee between the Derby and Preakness "because the worst thing you can do is overdo it. The horse is plenty fit. You just want to maintain what you've got. It's like cooking a steak. You don't want to burn it."

Whiting said he considers Pine Bluff and Alydeed as serious challengers.

"By this time, everybody kind of knows what everybody else has got,"Whiting said. "Of course, Tom [Bohannon, trainer of Pine Bluff] has been hiding Pine Bluff up in New York." The horse arrived late Wednesday after completing his serious work for the Preakness at Belmont Park.

Whiting said "Alydeed has got a fine turn of speed. He's on the fresh side, which could be his ally. The other horses could be suffering from running in the Derby and the rigors of getting there. But, on the other hand, Alydeed lacks the seasoning. We'll all have to tune in tomorrow afternoon to see which way the coin falls."

VTC * When Lil E. Tee was made a lukewarm 7-2 choice in the Preakness by Pimlico oddsmaker Eric Johnston, it was one of the longest prices for a favorite in the history of the race.

Before Lil E. Tee, the largest morning line favorite in the last 10 years came in 1981 when Pleasant Colony was the 5-2 pre-race choice, and then won.

The last morning line favorite to win the Preakness was Sunday Silence. He was quoted at 7-5 odds on the early line in 1989, and paid $6.20 when he won. He went off second choice in the actual betting to Easy Goer, who finished second.

* Top-weighted Sky Classic has been established as the 5-2 morning line favorite for today's $150,000 Early Times Dixie Handicap on the turf.

To be ridden by Pat Day, Sky Classic was second to Cudas in the first of a three-race series, the Early Times Turf Classic at Churchill Downs May 1, and boosted his career earnings over $1.5 million.

Canada's leading grass runner has 10 victories in 21 lifetime starts.

Cudas has been scheduled for surgery after breaking a bone in his left front foot in training last Sunday, meaning there won't be a $1 million sponsor's bonus awarded to a horse who wins all three races in the series.

Fourstars Allstar is expected to go off as the second choice in the 10- horse field after a third at Churchill Downs. He will carry second high weight of 116, 6 pounds fewer than Sky Classic.

Another horse to watch is Lotus Pool, who did not run in Kentucky because of a full field and the lack of a graded stakes victory.

* Kelli's Secret, with Charles Fenwick up, won yesterday's $16,000 allowance feature, breaking a string of three races without a victory. He again bested Tracy Road, who was second yesterday.

* Favored Castaneto broke down on the backstretch in the seventh race, but jockey Frank Douglas was unharmed.

* Edgar Prado had the only riding double on the card.

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