Strike the Gold, the 1992 winner, yesterday drew the No. 5 post in the six-horse field for tomorrow's $600,000 Pimlico Special.
Trainer Nick Zito said he likes "to be inside when you go long. I'd have preferred one or two, but it's no big deal. He'll be last anyway."
With such a short field because of the defections of Lil E. Tee, Jovial and Waki Warrior, placement at the start is not considered crucial.
George Gianos, the trainer of Pistols and Roses, said: "With this size field, it should be no problem for anybody. I'm happy with everything, the draw, my post position, the morning line."
Pistols and Roses breaks from the four hole with the overnight favorite, Devil His Due, leaving from No. 3.
Devil His Due (9-5), the highweight at 120 pounds, Strike the Gold (3-1) and Pistols and Roses (7-2) are considered the prime challengers by the track oddsmaker.
The rest of the lineup (with post position and odds) is: No. 1 Conte di Savoya, 8-1; No. 2 Valley Crossing, 6-1; and No. 6 Ibex, 6-1. There is a question of which horse will go for the early lead with most of the speedy entries gone. It could be Maryland-based Ibex, who worked three furlongs in a fast 34 2/5 at the Bowie Training Center yesterday.
"It was a little faster than I wanted. But he did it with his mouth open, " said trainer Gary Capuano.
"This horse has never been this good. If he doesn't win or if he isn't right there, then he just doesn't have the class. It looks like he's so sharp now, so full of run, that I don't know if we can get him back off the lead."
The Special's purse was reduced this year by $150,000, but the winner will receive $360,000 and bonus money is due the leaders in the American Championship Racing Series after this race.
The leader in the series will collect $150,000. After three races, Pistols and Roses is one of the co-leaders with 15 points and Devil His Due is four behind.
A victory is worth 10 points in the ARCS standings, second means seven points, third is five, fourth is three and a fifth-place finish is one.
Rockamundo is in
Trainer Ben Glass said after Rockamundo worked Wednesday that he would enter the horse "if he looks good, feels good, acts good and eats good."
When Rockamundo devoured his lunch in 12 minutes yesterday, Glass decided, "We're in."
Sea Hero works well
Trainer Mack Miller and jockey Jerry Bailey were pleased with Sea Hero's workout.
The Kentucky Derby winner went three furlongs easily in 35 1/5 seconds and galloped out a half mile in 48 2/5.
He had a similar drill before the Derby, but both Bailey and Miller thought this one was better.
"It was a little quicker time-wise and his action was a little lower to the ground," said Bailey. "In layman's terms, I think he was more comfortable first time over this track than he was the first time over Churchill Downs."
"He seemed to be handling the track very well," said Miller, who is not seriously concerned about the fact that Sea Hero will not race with Lasix in the Preakness under Maryland rules.
Sea Hero used the bleeder medication in the Derby when a scoping discovered some blood in the trachea after a virus apparently affected him in South Carolina.
"I never thought he was a chronic bleeder," said Miller. "I thought since I was going to Keeneland that it was, 'When in Rome do as the Romans do,' so I used it."
Kentucky has more liberal rules than Maryland regarding Lasix use.
Most of the remaining Preakness entrants jogged or galloped yesterday. Maryland-bred Woods of Windsor worked three furlongs in 35 4/5, galloping out a half-mile in 49.
Dixie Handicap duel
Mark Hennig, trainer of Star of Cozzene, said Wednesday's "rain was a blessing for us" in the lead-up to another anticipated duel with Lure in the $150,000 Early Times Dixie Handicap today.
Star of Cozzene favors softer footing.
Lure won the first leg of the $1 million, incentive-laden Early Times Triple Turf Series at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of a length over Star of Cozzene.
Fasig-Tipton will hold a sale of 272 2-year-olds at Timonium Fairgrounds on Sunday and Monday. A galloping show at 10 a.m. Sunday begins the event, followed by the sale. . . . Pimlico will not simulcast out-of town racing today or tomorrow. All betting will be on the Maryland card.