No, a thousand times no, is the answer to the first question and maybe is the realistic answer to the second.
Real Quiet cannot sweep the Triple Crown because the "Gods of Horse Racing" will not allow it. You can look it up. Only truly great horses win three classic races at three different distances in three different states in five weeks and there is no way to make a case for Real Quiet as a truly great horse. Something will stop him and his first roadblock is post No. 10 in a 10-horse field with a near-certain wide trip or premature move into or around the notoriously flat first turn at Pimlico. (The relative flatness of the initial turn forces wide-swinging horses to lose valuable energy trying to hold their positions against centrifugal force.)
Victory Gallop, a stretch-running colt who was second in the Derby after losing ground on the well-banked turns at Churchill Downs, might surprise many with a better position in mid-pack under Triple Crown pro Gary Stevens. But there is another horse in this race to consider carefully: Cape Town.
With the late defection of Coronado's Quest, who looked to be the main speed in the Preakness, the door is now wide open for Cape Town to run a much stronger race than he did in the Derby. He will be helped by his uncoupled stablemate Baquero, who is still in this race strictly to insure a realistic pace.
Cape Town is a hard horse to figure. Several times this season the son of Seeking the Gold has made threatening moves in the upper stretch only to hang badly in the final furlongs. Today, however, Cape Town should benefit from an energy-saving training regimen at Churchill and a ground-saving trip for most of the journey under the outstanding Jerry Bailey. If the pace scenario develops as expected and the 1-2 Derby finishers both have wide trips, Cape Town could be in the catbird seat for an upset.
Of the long shots, both Classic Cat and Hot Wells have rallied often enough against weaker competition to merit trifecta consideration.
Given the probable "trips," Cape Town should improve in this spot for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a prolific Preakness winner. Splitting hairs, I believe the price dictates a win-place play on Cape Town in the Preakness at 7-2 or so, while the two other primary contenders, Victory Gallop and Real Quiet, should figure prominently in the exotics as illustrated below:
Exacta Boxes: Cape Town and Victory Gallop ($4 at $2 units)
Straight Exacta: Cape Town over Real Quiet ($2)
Trifectas: Numbers 5, 10; with 5, 10, 11; with 5, 10, 11, 3, 8. ($18 at $1 units)
Steve Davidowitz is a free-lance writer and handicapper.
Pub Date: 5/16/98