Despite losing a couple of its big names, seven horses, including last year's winner, Strike the Gold, will run next Saturday in the $600,000 Pimlico Special.
First, 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee defected when he came down with a lung infection.
Then yesterday trainer Bruce Jackson said that Jovial, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap, had rapped (struck) his tendon and will miss the race.
In addition to Strike the Gold, the other preliminary entries are Devil His Due, Pistols and Roses, Conte di Savoya, Ibex, Valley Crossing and expected pacesetter Waki Warrior.
Strike the Gold shipped to Pimlico yesterday after a strong five-furlong workout in 59 seconds at Belmont.
Strike the Gold is assigned 118 pounds in the race, two less than highweight Devil His Due, who won the Gulfstream Park Handicap March 14.
For the first time since it was revived in 1988, the Pimlico Special will be run on the same card as the Preakness to ensure television coverage of the race, the fourth leg of the American Championship Racing Series.
McCarron gets Preakness mount
Chris McCarron, who finished sixth on Corby in the Kentucky Derby, has a new mount for the Preakness.
He will ride Koluctoo Jimmy Al, the quick New York-bred who is expected to help set a fast pace.
It is McCarron's sixth Preakness appearance. He won in 1987 on Alysheba and last year on Pine Bluff.
New York, New York
A quartet of New York-based fillies and mares -- Low Tolerance, Deputation, Lady D'Accord and Hilbys Brite Flite -- take on New Jersey-based Arlene's Money and three local runners today in the $200,000 Pimlico Distaff.
The second running of the race kicks off Preakness Week festivities at the track.
Dress Optional, Good Looking Terri and D. Theatrical Gal are the three Maryland-based horses taking on the New York invaders.
Trainer Shug McGaughey, who saddles Deputation, is trying to keep his recent stakes-winning streak intact. McGaughey won three graded stakes races, including the Kentucky Oaks, on the same card last week at Churchill Downs.
Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at Pimlico from Belmont Park between noon and 2 p.m. . . . The operator of a hot air balloon entered in a Preakness media event attempted to land on the track yesterday during training hours at Pimlico. "He was going to come down at the quarter pole while the horses were on the track," said superintendent John Passero. Passero was in the infield at the time and in no uncertain terms made sure that the balloonist went up, up and away.