This time, there was no second-guessing for Victory Gallop. No second thoughts, either. In the 123rd Preakness, after giving his best shot, there was just second place.
Losing to Real Quiet for the second time in two weeks had its consolation, though, for trainer Elliott Walden.
"We got beat fair and square today," Walden said in the serene quiet of Barn 3 on Pimlico Race Course's backside. "I don't think there was any doubt about who the winner was today. By that, I mean we didn't lose because of ground rules. Today, we were second best."
It was a different post-race story at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Then, Canadian-bred Victory Gallop had to run four wide around both turns in the Kentucky Derby and suffered a tough loss to Real Quiet.
The prevailing logic at the Derby was that if not for his poor placement, Victory Gallop, who ran from the 13th post, could have won.
That logic was shattered yesterday, when Victory Gallop, with a new rider, was able to keep Real Quiet on his outside for most of the race.
In the aftermath of his second-place Derby finish, Walden changed jockeys. Gary Stevens, who lost his mount when Indian Charlie scratched last week, replaced Alex Solis on Victory Gallop.
One more plus: Victory Gallop ran from the ninth post in the Preakness, just inside Real Quiet at No. 10.
"I left it up to Gary," Walden said. "We did try to keep Real Quiet outside of us, which Gary did.
"We had a beautiful trip. We couldn't have asked for a better trip. I'm very happy with my colt."
Watching Kent Desormeaux aboard Real Quiet early in the race, Stevens thought he saw the glint of opportunity.
It turned out to be a ray of delusion, though.
"Going down the backside, I thought we were in good shape," Stevens said. "Kent had been chirping to his horse all around the first turn and he didn't seem to be responding, so I felt good about my situation.
"At the half-mile pole, I tried to take control and got along pretty well, and I liked my chances at the three-eighths pole. But Kent just came up beside me and just kind of looked at me as if he could go anytime he wanted. And I knew I was in trouble.
"My horse dug in, but he [Real Quiet] just went off and won easy. My horse galloped out very strong, but he's just a one-pace horse, and the winner has a great burst of speed."
Absent the stretch-run burst he showed in the Kentucky Derby, Victory Gallop finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Real Quiet. He was three-quarters of a length ahead of third-place finisher Classic Cat.
Not bad considering that Walden wasn't going to enter his colt until Indian Charlie and Halory Hunter was scratched Tuesday.
And then, Victory Gallop came back to the same Pimlico barn where he trained as a 2-year-old under Mary Eppler. Not long after he finished second in the Laurel Futurity -- winning three of four other races -- he was sold to Preston Woods Farm and sent to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Now it's on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. Walden said he'll ship Victory Gallop to Elmont, N.Y., today with an eye on ending his second-best reputation.
"The 1 1/2 -mile race will suit him," Walden said. "Gary said he couldn't pull him up after the race [yesterday].
"I'm not saying we'll beat Real Quiet in the Belmont. But I will say, he'll have to run."
Real Quiet and Victory Gallop are the ninth pair of horses to finish first and second in the Kentucky Derby, then repeat the feat in the Preakness:
1937: War Admiral, Pompoon
1943: Count Fleet, Blue Swords
1958: Tim Tam, Lincoln Road
1969: Majestic Prince, Arts and Letters
1973: Secretariat, Sham
1978: Affirmed, Alydar
1987: Alysheba, Bet Twice
1989: Sunday Silence, Easy Goer
1998: Real Quiet, Victory Gallop
Pub Date: 5/17/98