Rockamundo, the horse who underwent throat surgery after a poor race in the Kentucky Derby, surprised even his trainer yesterday when he worked a half mile in 46 4/5 seconds, the fastest move of any of the probable Preakness entrants at that distance this week.
"Hopefully the horse is saying, 'I can breathe, I can breathe,' " trainer Ben Glass said.
Still, Glass has not said definitely that Rockamundo will go in the Preakness, although this work put Preakness notebook
him closer to a positive decision. "He looks good. If he cools out good and acts good and eats good, well then, in the morning [today] we'll enter him," Glass said.
Rockamundo was ridden in his workout by Maryland's winningest jockey, Edgar Prado.
If Rockamundo starts in the Preakness, Prado will have the mount. "Mr. West [owner Gary West] said Prado is their [Pimlico's] leading rider, and it would be nice for the local people
to see him ride in the Preakness," Glass said.
Miller's sick horse
When Mack Miller arrived at Pimlico yesterday, he was greeted immediately with a sick horse.
It was not Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, but the filly You'd be Surprised, a starter this afternoon in the $100,000 Gallorette Handicap. The filly had a touch of colic, but could not be treated with medication because she's set to run today.
After being walked, the filly seemed fine and is still expected to race in the Gallorette.
Union City skips training
Union City got a rare day off yesterday and immediately set about speculation that all is not well with the horse.
But trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the Private Account colt is OK. "You'll see him on the track today, and he'll run in the race," Lukas said.
"Without getting into technicalities, he's gone to the track nine straight days, plus the heat, shipping--I just thought he needed a day off."
Lukas said that the tactic may be unusual, "but it's not unconventional for me. I did that a couple of times here before."
Rumors also were circulating that Lukas' son, Jeff, is quitting as his father's chief assistant and is starting his own stable with a draft of horses sent to him by Allen Paulson.
"Eventually, some horses will be transferred [to Jeff], but not any time soon," Lukas said. "It's about time for him to go out on his own. But he's not getting any horses from Paulson that I know of. I don't know where that one [rumor] got started."
Miller's binocular story
When Miller was at the Kentucky Derby, he forgot to take his new, light set of binoculars and ended by with an old, heavy pair.
When the horses entered the stretch, "in all the excitement, I couldn't get the binoculars focused. I saw a horse on the outside with a jockey in a yellow cap, and I thought it was Sea Hero," Miller said.
TH Instead, it was Loblolly Stable's Prairie Bayou. "Finally, just from
plain sight, I realized it was Sea Hero in front [on the rail] at about the eighth pole. I reached over and grabbed Mr. [Paul] Mellon by the arm like a child and started yelling 'Mr. Mellon. You're going to win the Derby.' I was amazed I didn't have a heart attack."
Miller said he brought his good binoculars with him on this trip.
The trainer added that Mellon, 85, didn't attend the post-race interview in the press box "because he has a leg that is really bothering him. His leg was tired, and he was just whipped."
The Maryland Racing Commission will hold a hearing on May 29, at 10 a.m. at Poor Jimmy's Family Restaurant near Elkton to gage public sentiment about opening an OTB parlor at the site. Pimlico/Laurel track operators submitted an application for licensing approval to the board yesterday. . . . El Bakan will race with a tongue tie as well as Lasix for the first time in the Preakness. . . . When jockey Robbie Davis said he had to honor riding commitments at Belmont Park on Saturday, trainer Nick Zito lined up Herb McCauley to pilot Too Wild in the Preakness. . . . Trainer King Leatherbury, just a few wins from saddling 5,000 career winners, will analyze the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness cards at a Thoro-Graph Thoroughbred Data Service handicapping seminar tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. in the Pimlico Triple Crown Room. . . . There are 17 corporate sponsors with tents in the Preakness infield this year and 33 tents in all.