The winner of the Preakness, the winner of the Belmont and the second-place finisher in both races -- as well as top horses on the rise and the mend -- clash today in two televised races that will help determine who is the best 3-year-old racehorse in the country.
Louis Quatorze, winner of the Preakness, and Editor's Note, the Belmont champ, meet in the $150,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga in upstate New York. And at New Jersey's Monmouth Park, Skip Away, who finished second in the Belmont and Preakness, takes on Victory Speech, D. Wayne Lukas' vastly improved colt, in the $750,000 Haskell Invitational Handicap.
The 1 1/8 -mile races are stepping stones to the granddaddy of races for 3-year-olds, the $750,000, 1 1/4 -mile Travers Stakes on Aug. 24 at Saratoga.
"I think my horse is the best 3-year-old in the country right now," said Sonny Hine, who trains Skip Away for his wife, Carolyn, a Highlandtown native. "But we've got these two races to get through first."
Since Skip Away's game second-place finishes in the Preakness and Belmont, he's won the $300,000 Ohio Derby, besting Victory Speech by 3 1/2 lengths. But then Victory Speech cruised home first in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont and the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park. He's not the same horse who flopped in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
But today's premier race is the Jim Dandy, featuring Editor's Note and Louis Quatorze, as well as the underachieving Prince of Thieves and Will's Way, coming back from a springtime injury.
Although cross-entered in the Haskell, Maria's Mon, the 1995 champion 2-year-old, is expected to race in the Jim Dandy. He won four of five races last year, but then suffered a broken cannon bone preparing for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"To talk raw ability, he's beaten both [Louis Quatorze and Editor's Note] at 2," said Maria's Mon's trainer, Richard Schosberg. "Now, it's one year later, and they've all grown up and matured. The big difference is that we missed nine months due to surgery, and our colt has three screws in one of his legs."
ESPN will show both races from 4: 30 p.m. to 5: 30 p.m.
One 3-year-old who will no longer compete for championships is Feather Box. He was euthanized Wednesday after shattering the cannon bone in his right foreleg during a race at Saratoga.
Feather Box's trainer, Angel Cordero Jr., was emotionally crushed.
Cordero has struggled in trying to make the transition from Hall of Fame jockey to trainer. Feather Box, who finished 12th in the Preakness, was his best horse.
"I've been close to so many injuries that I'm a little tougher about this," Cordero told Schenectady's The Daily Gazette. "But my wife [Marjorie, his co-trainer] cried all night. And every time she started to cry, I started to cry, too.
"I love all the horses I have, but I was closest to him. He required special care.
"He'd always be crying for his food early, so we did that. And if another horse was walking, he'd go crazy because he wanted to be out, too. . . . It's like when you have children, and one of them has problems. That's the one you end up caring for the most."
Never enough of Cigar
Had your fill yet of Cigar? Didn't think so.
ESPN will air "Cigar's Race to History" from 10 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m. Friday, the day before the Maryland-bred superstar goes after his 17th straight win in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar in Southern California. ESPN then will televise the Pacific Classic from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
rTC Hosted by Chris Lincoln and Tom Durkin, "Cigar's Race to History" will chronicle the horse's streak, preview the Pacific Classic and review Citation's 16-straight win streak from 1948 to 1950.
Had your fill of trying to bet Cigar at absurdly low odds? Consider this: Bet Cigar to win the Pacific Classic by one to two lengths at 9-5; bet him to win by a nose at 6-1.
Those are but two of the wagers offered by English Sports Betting, a Jamaica-based firm that frequently advertises in the Daily Racing Form. Check the ads for more information.
John Fricke, the general manager, said the firm is licensed to accept international wagers by phone. And it offers bets on everything from horse racing to the Olympics to presidential elections.
In the Pacific Classic, you not only can get Cigar to win at 7-10, but also bet on how much he'll win by: a neck at 5-1, one length or less at 9-5, four to five lengths at 5-2 and so on, up to 10 lengths or more at 15-1.
Cheers for a workout
Cigar worked out in the rain Wednesday morning at Saratoga. About 300 cheering fans lined the rail about 7 a.m. as he breezed seven-eighths of a mile in 1 minute, 27 2/5 seconds.
A pony no longer
Woody was a track pony. After showing no ability on the training farm as a 2- and 3-year-old, he had been relegated to the mundane task of carrying trainer Butch Richards to and from the track so he could watch his more glamorous thoroughbreds work out at Florida's Gulfstream Park.
Richards' 7-year-old daughter, Gina, had named the pony after a character in the movie "Toy Story."
"He was real mellow," said Richards, now based at Calder Race Course. "But the more I rode him, the more aggressive he got."
To humor the horse, Richards let Woody break a few times from the starting gate in the mornings.
"All of sudden, he started getting into the gate and beating a few other horses," Richards said.
His children -- the other two being Michael, 9, and Rocky, 12 -- often rode Woody around the shedrow. But one day, when one of his sons asked to ride him, Richards told him: "Woody's not Woody anymore. He's Shackleton, and he's a racehorse."
On June 24, Shackleton finished second at Calder in a $12,500 race for maiden claimers. Then July 11, he won a $16,000 claimer.
"After that, I got offered a good amount of money for him," Richards said. "But my wife wouldn't let me sell him."
Pub Date: 8/04/96