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TRAINER Bohannan rose through ranks to reach Loblolly position


Tom Bohannan took the typical route to become trainer of Pine bluff, the 1992 Preakness winner.

Recruited by his brother John, a trainer on the Ohio-Kentucky racing circuit, Bohannan started as a hot walker, then became a groom, a foreman and an assistant trainer with George "Rusty" Arnold.

The big break came in 1989, when John Ed Anthony hired Bohannan as the private trainer for Loblolly Stable and Pine Bluff was born.

Three years to the day after the Anthony-Bohannan alliance was cemented they captured the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Bohannan could find no reason for Pine Bluff's fifth-place run in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, when the horse didn't respond.

But he had called it an "omen" for the Preakness in the wake of Hansel's turnaround last year -- from 10th in the Derby to first in Baltimore. They were placed in the same stall at Pimlico in the stakes barn.

"The press made more of (that) than we did, "Bohannan said." that might have been one of the reasons he went off at such a short price."

Pine Bluff came out of the Derby in excellent shape despite a performance that Bohannan labeled a "disappointment."

"He proved to us he was trying, so there was no reason not to run him," he said.

But there was still the matter of the jockey choice. The Trainer said "you always wonder a little bit" when top-fightjockeys take off a horse, as Jerry Bailey did with Pine Bluff after the Arkansas Derby and Craig Perret did aftter Kentucky.

"Perret took off, but he also took off Unbridled in the Breeders' Cuup," Bohannan said. "We didn't let that bother us too bad."

Bailey wavered before committing in Kentucky, and Bohannan wasn't buying.

"He wanted to wait to make a decision,". Bohannan said.

And we weren't going to give him that convenience. I told him to come back and see us and we'd be happy to have him ride if we didn't have a rider by then."

By chance, Chris McCarron became available.

Bohannan worked Pine Bluff at Belmont Park for the race and shipped to Baltimore in midweek.

"I didn't think it was necessary to train over this track," he said. "I had 27 horses up there and it was a short van trip, so there wasn't any reason not to train in New York."

Born May 31, 1955, in Mobile, Ala., Bohannan moved with his family to the center of horse county, Kentucky, before he started school. He owned quarter horses in high school, but decided to try real estate and construction before settling onb a career in racing.

"This is the best horse I've ever trained," Bohannan said. "I say that because he's a competitor. He tries hard all the time.

"He's the type of colt you can place whereever you want, and runs with a lot of confidence. He's shown he wants to go the Belmont distance."

Bohannan will be there. Real estate is now far behind him.

Leading trainers

Trainers who have had the most Preakness winners, and the years they have won.

7 - R. W. Walden: 1875, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1888.

5 - T. J. Healy: 1901, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1929.

4 - James Fitzsimmons: 1930, 1935, 1955, 1957.

- H.A. Jones: 1947, 1948, 1956, 1958.

- J. Whalen: 1907, 1911, 1913.

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