Bill Hartack, the Hall of Fame rider who won three Preaknesses and five Kentucky Derbies, strolled around Pimlico Race Course yesterday, embracing and joking with old friends.
The man who rode such horses as Fabius, Northern Dancer and Majestic Prince to thrilling first-place finishes in the Preakness, heard the roar of the crowd at Old Hilltop from a different vantage point.
Hartack, who retired from riding 21 years ago, is now a jockey's agent instead of a jockey. He came in from New Jersey with apprentice Jimmie Ward Jr., who rallied from off the pace with New Orleans invader Fancy Teddy and defeated Pimlico's leading rider, Mark Johnston, by a nose in the Loser Weeper Stakes. It was the track's first grass race of the season.
Instead of viewing the race from the back of a thoroughbred, Hartack watched from the sidelines. But the result was the same: He came away a winner.
L Hartack is still as noncommunicative as ever with the press.
A veteran member of the local media recalled that Hartack once threatened an area columnist with a pair of brass knuckles.
He wasn't nearly as demonstrative yesterday, but said, "If you want to know anything about Ward, ask the jockey."
Keith Dickey, trainer of Fancy Teddy, said he had picked up a Pimlico condition book at the Fair Grounds race course in pTC Louisiana a few weeks ago. "I didn't really look at it until we were on the road, shipping the horses from New Orleans to Garden State Park," Dickey said. He figured yesterday's marathon grass race at Pimlico was a good spot for his route-loving turf specialist. Fancy Teddy is a 6-year-old son of Irish-bred Lobsang, whose chief victory in the U.S. came at 1 1/2 miles in the Hialeah Turf Cup.
Ward, 26, began his riding career a couple of months ago at the Fair Grounds. Hartack, who worked as a steward at the track, figured Ward had a future and gave up his job as an official to become his agent.
Tesio starter destroyed
Bet Your Bucks, the horse who was pulled up lame on the backside during the running of the Federico Tesio Stakes, was humanely destroyed Saturday night.
The 3-year-old Florida-bred fractured the long pastern bone in his right hind leg in six places, according to David Zipf, chief veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission, and also suffered a cannon bone fracture in the same leg.
Zipf added that the horse was insured but didn't know for how much.
Ray Wennik's stakes-winning filly, Miss Claratius, is back in work in Florida and is due to return to trainer Marilyn Goldman at the Bowie Training Center next week. Goldman saddled a first-time starter for Wennik in yesterday's last race at Pimlico. The horse, Dance Production, went off at 46-1 odds and paid $94 to win after defeating another first-time starter, TR's Boy, by a nose. . . . Harriet Finkelstein said yesterday that her stakes-winning filly, Stormy Blues, came out of her recent second-place finish in the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct in good shape and is still on schedule to race next in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on May 19.