This year there is no Blushing K.D. to go off at 1-to-10 odds.
The Grade II $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes today lacks a horse with the credentials of last year's top filly, who had won five straight stakes entering the race, including the Kentucky Oaks.
But for fans, it figures to be a good betting event with no clear-cut favorite.
With the scratch of Victorica yesterday, the field has narrowed to eight and one of them, License Fee, comes from the D. Wayne Lukas barn.
"She's coming off a really good race and she's very good right now," Lukas said. "But she's going to have to run her career best.
"But I was coming here anyway. What the heck? I decided I'd give her a shot."
License Fee won a $50,000 allowance in the mud at Churchill Downs on April 29 in her last start. She is 3-for-6 lifetime and will be ridden by Gary Stevens.
Major opposition can be expected from the David Donk-trained Added Gold and co-top-weighted Maragold Princess, the local filly with two straight wins and the Maryland Juvenile Championship.
Another to consider is Silent Eskimo, the top earner in the field with $235,290 and a Grade II stakes winner in her last start.
When Salt It took the Black-Eyed Susan last year and Blushing K.D. finished fourth, the show payoffs on the first three finishers were huge -- $62.40, $72.20 and $95.
That will not happen again because no one in this field will attract 94 percent of the show pool.
The secondary feature today, the Grade III $100,000 Gallorette on the turf, is another wide-open affair with Afleet Would, Starry Dreamer, Lordy Lordy and Tampico among the highly regarded entries.
'Beauty' wins Miss Preakness
Lukas-trained Storm Beauty went wire-to-wire in the $79,250 Miss Preakness Stakes yesterday, covering six furlongs in 1: 10 4/5.
She set a leisurely pace off the rail under jockey Charles Woods Jr. and had plenty of steam left to fend off Brac Drifter and local runner Hair Spray.
"I was very pleased," Lukas said. "This is the first stakes win for this filly who has impeccable bloodlines [by Storm Cat out of Stick to Beauty].
"We wanted to get out and dictate the race and we wanted to be in a position where if we had to, we could kick on and keep going. She had the perfect trip."
Woods said, "It went just according to plan. When I dropped my hands a little, she relaxed and was in a spot where she could
withstand any challenge."
Storm Beauty earned $45,000 to push her career total near $150,000. In her only previous stakes attempt, she was a badly beaten ninth on the Santa Anita turf March 18.
Lukas: Baquero no rabbit
Lukas has taken some heat for entering long shot Baquero, who has never been around two turns, in the Preakness, but will leave the strategy to jockey Pat Day.
He insists that Baquero is not a rabbit entered only to soften up favored Coronado's Quest for Cape Town.
"He rates kindly," Lukas said. "His mother made more than a million dollars in Grade I races and he's by Forty Niner. What makes people think he can't go two turns?"
Meanwhile, Lukas warned that Real Quiet should not be taken lightly because he drew the outside.
"His style would complement the post," he said. "With this horse you can let him go [easy out of the gate] and drop in later."
"He wouldn't be here if he didn't think he'd be all right," Baffert said of the sometimes unruly Coronado's Quest. "I didn't want him to come, so I was trying to shake him up big. He didn't buy it."
McGaughey said, "All this talk hasn't really bothered me. Actually, I've had a little fun with it it. If he was 15- or 20-to-1, nobody would have said a word."
For the Preakness horses, it was a day of jogging and galloping with most of the serious preparations completed.
Silver Charm to Churchill
Silver Charm, winner of the $4 million Dubai World Cup in his last race, will make his next start in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 13.
"He likes the track, it's kind of home for him," Baffert said Wednesday after arriving at Pimlico to saddle Real Quiet in tomorrow's Preakness.
Silver Charm, who nearly won the Triple Crown in 1997, is 3-for-3 this year, with wins in the San Fernando and Strub Stakes before his narrow victory over Swain in the Dubai World Cup in late March.
Silver Charm, owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, won the Derby and Preakness before finishing second by a half-length to Touch Gold in the Belmont Stakes.
Other 'Charlie' is here
Indian Charlie has arrived.
Not the horse. The legendary publisher of a newsletter that promises "we won't let the truth get in the way of a good story."
Ed Musselman, aka Indian Charlie, is attending his first Preakness, but in Kentucky, he is renowned for his irreverent writing. He promises to release his next edition tomorrow.
A sample in the current letter: "The connections of Preakness starter Coronado's Quest have informed us that they plan to select post position 15 for Coronado's Quest in the Preakness, so as to avoid any and all traffic problems that might arise.
"This publication wanted to warn Pimlico management and members of the Maryland Jockey Club, so they don't flip their wig like Tom Meeker did when he heard the number 15 called at the Kentucky Derby draw."
Local artist Mike Geraghty has on display inside the main grandstand entrance an original painting of Kent Desormeaux aboard Real Quiet after the Kentucky Derby win. He will be taking pre-publication orders. Desormeaux will head a celebrity jockey autograph session today on the first floor of the grandstand from 11: 30 a.m. to 12: 15 p.m. A Daily Racing Form handicapping seminar will be conducted at the same time with Andrew Beyer, Steve Haskin and Ed Fountaine. The nominees to the Grade II $150,000 Peter Pan at Aqueduct on May 24 include Basic Trainee, Black Cash, Chilito, Coronado's Quest and Victory Gallop. Preakness infield tickets are available at Amoco stations in the area with $5 off the race-day price.
Pub Date: 5/15/98