In fog so thick you could barely hear through it, Hot Wells pounded down the stretch at Pimlico yesterday -- a bit muted under climatic conditions -- in the first workout by a horse here for the Preakness on May 16.
"The last part looked awesome," said Mike Warren Lasky, the Baltimore resident who owns the dark brown gelding.
Lasky couldn't see the first part of the five-eighths-mile breeze. With one clocker watching the start and another watching the finish, the clockers timed the work in 1 minute, 4 seconds.
The jockey Edgar Prado, who will ride Hot Wells in the Preakness, said his arms were sore from trying to restrain the horse, and his trainer, Tom Amoss, said he timed the last sixteenth mile in less than six seconds. Everybody was pleased.
"I'm here 'cause we can win," Lasky said. "I think he's coming up to the best race of his life. And if he runs the best race of his life, he's good enough to win."
Lasky is CEO of the Psychic Friends Network. He is part-owner of Harbor Inn Pier 5 and a former professional handicapper. He made headlines when he bought the baseball Eddie Murray hit in 1996 for his 500th home run. Lasky also owns horses and races under the name So What's Nu Stable.
On the recommendation of his racing manager, Jake Haddad, Lasky claimed Hot Wells for $12,500 in August at Ellis Park in Kentucky. Haddad, Lasky and their trainer, Amoss, figured they had purchased nothing more than a useful horse.
But late last year Hot Wells got good, breaking his maiden and winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs. This year at Oaklawn Park, he won the Grade III 1-mile Southwest Stakes with a powerful wide rally, finished a disappointing fifth in the Grade III 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes and then settled for fourth in the Grade II 1 1/8 -mile Arkansas Derby after bumping roughly with eventual winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Victory Gallop. At the time of the collision at the head of the stretch, Hot Wells was flying on the outside.
After that, Hot Wells' connections considered the Preakness.
"What you've got to like about this horse is the real upward trend of his races," said Amoss, 36, a native of New Orleans and one of the country's best young trainers. "Like the Olympics, we qualified to run here. Whether we win a medal or not, that's another story."
Said Lasky: "We didn't run in the Kentucky Derby because we wanted this race all along. And we wanted Edgar all along."
This will be Prado's fourth Preakness. His best finish was seventh in 1993 aboard Rockamundo.
Lasky said the Kentucky Derby was not a race to scare off potential challengers to the winner, Real Quiet, who ran the final quarter mile in an unimpressive 26 3/5 seconds. The story was that Real Quiet was a bargain $17,000 yearling purchase for owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert.
"It's a good story about a $17,000 yearling purchase," Lasky said. "But it'd be a better story about a $12,500 claimer."
Pub Date: 5/08/98