Decision is put off on next race for 'Quest' Preakness or Met Mile is possible, handlers say


The owner and trainer of Coronado's Quest, the enigmatic horse of the 1998 Preakness, made a decision yesterday about the horse running in the race: They're going to decide later, perhaps today.

"I think we're a couple of procrastinators," said Stuart S. Janney III, the Butler resident who owns Coronado's Quest. "We're not ruling out the Preakness [yesterday]."

Janney met yesterday morning with Shug McGaughey, the colt's trainer, at McGaughey's barn at Belmont Park. They discussed the possibilities: the Preakness on May 16 at Pimlico or the Metropolitan Handicap (the Met Mile) on May 25 at Belmont.

"I tend to think it'll likely be the Met Mile," Janney said after the meeting. "But Shug wanted to think a little more about the possibility of running in the Preakness."

At the core of the discussion was the mental state of Coronado's Quest. Before races this winter in Florida, Coronado's Quest froze on the way to the track and then tried to buck off his rider. Since undergoing minor surgery to alleviate a breathing problem and returning to New York, the colt has behaved and trained perfectly.

After Coronado's Quest won the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 11 at Aqueduct -- on his best behavior -- Janney and McGaughey decided to skip the Kentucky Derby rather than risk the horse regressing before the large and boisterous crowd.

"I was very comfortable with my Derby decision," McGaughey said. "But I'm a little on the fence with this."

Janney acknowledged that "the Preakness is a lot different from the Derby. It'd probably be a lot better. It might even fall within the acceptable range."

But he also said he'd like to see Coronado's Quest handle one more race flawlessly before entering him in a race like the Preakness.

"This is a tough decision," Janney said, "because you're never going to know if you've done the right thing until you do it and it turns out perfectly."

With six intended starters and six still on the fence, including Coronado's Quest, questions are mounting about how many horses will compete in the Preakness. And now, one of the most committed runners has developed a minor problem -- one his trainer hopes remains minor.

Classic Cat, winner of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, has a slight crack in his right rear hoof. The horse is stabled at Keeneland.

His trainer David Cross, currently in California, plans on flying Saturday to Kentucky and conferring with the blacksmith Steve Norman. If the hoof is OK, Cross said, the horse will be vanned Sunday to Baltimore.

On Wednesday, Classic Cat breezed seven furlongs in 1 minute, 27 3/5 seconds at Keeneland -- with the crack. Cross said it has not been patched.

"It's so far back it doesn't seem necessary," Cross said. "It's almost the best place you could get a crack. I might have gotten lucky. If it were in front, I'd be dead."

With an eye toward Pimlico

The horses listed as possible or probable for the May 16 Preakness, with Kentucky Derby finish in parentheses:

Probable .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Possible

Cape Town (5th) .. .. .. .. .. .Basic Trainee (15th)

Classic Cat .. .. .. .. .. ... .Chilito (11th)

Halory Hunter (4th) .. .. .. ...Coronado's Quest

Hot Wells .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Monk's Falcon

Indian Charlie (3rd) .. .. .. ..Spartan Cat

Real Quiet (1st) .. .. .. .. ...Victory Gallop (2nd)

Pub Date: 5/08/98

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