Two months ago, the racing future of Alydeed seemed, at best, uncertain. After chipping a bone in an ankle last year, the promising Canadian horse came down with a serious lung infection.
So, yesterday, when Alydeed lost its lead to Pine Bluff down the stretch to finish second in the Preakness, there was very little disappointment. Alydeed's bumpy past didn't seem as important what jockey Craig Perret called "a very bright future."
"I doubt very much you've seen the best of this horse," said Bob Anderson, who bred Alydeed for owner Donald G. Wilmot, the TC chairman of The Molsons Cos. Limited.
Alydeed, the least experienced horse in the field, was nearly the best yesterday in the Preakness. But after passing early leader Speakerphone at the three-eighths pole, and holding off Dance Floor down the stretch, Alydeed might have showed its inexperience and maybe a lack of stamina.
"We thought we were going to be able to win the race," said trainer Roger Attfield. "We just needed that little bit more fitness. I needed one more race around two turns. I'm usually not pleased with seconds, but I'm pleased with that one."
Perret didn't seem too disappointed either after his horse failed to hold its two-length lead and was passed by Pine Bluff -- the horse he rode to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby -- with 70 yards to go.
"My horse did everything I think he could have done," said Perret.
Asked if he thought he had enough horse to win coming down the stretch, Perret said, "I felt I did. I had a horse with fire in his eyes.
Standing outside Alydeed's barn, Anderson said that his horse's performance backed up what he and Attfield believed right from the start: that it had the talent to back up its good looks.
He also thought the somewhat sluggish track worked against Alydeed.
"If the track had stayed fast like it was yesterday [Friday], it would have been great for him," said Anderson. "He just got a little tired. We just hung a little bit at the end."
Considering how far Alydeed had come back in the last two months, considering the fact that the Preakness was only its fifth race, there were few long faces among Alydeed's handlers.
"After where he was in March, that's a pretty good bounce to where he finished today," said Anderson.
And because of where Alydeed finished yesterday, there are some questions as to whether he will go back to Canada with his owners to race or stay primarily in the United States.
But Perret made a prediction.
"This horse is going to be tough to beat in the future," he said. "He's just filled with talent. He reeks of it."