Coronado's Quest begins his long-shot quest for racing's 3-year-old championship today in the $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.
Owned by Stuart S. Janney III of Butler in Baltimore County, Coronado's Quest ranks behind only three 3-year-old colts in Daily Racing Form's weekly Top 40: Real Quiet, No. 5; Victory Gallop, No. 8, and Indian Charlie, No. 24. Coronado's Quest ranks No. 28, one spot ahead of another 3-year-old, Favorite Trick.
Janney said he believes the race for an Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old male division is wide-open despite the dominance of the Triple Crown by Real Quiet and Victory Gallop.
After winning the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, Coronado's Quest missed the Kentucky Derby because of behavioral problems and the Preakness and Belmont Stakes because of a bruised foot. Those are no longer problems, Janney said.
"He's just a very different horse," Janney said. "Since he's been back in New York, he's just been terrific."
In the Grade II 1 1/16-mile Dwyer, Coronado's Quest will face four other 3-year-olds who won't beat him if he's physically and mentally sound: Scatmandu, Ian's Thunder, Undaunted Mettle and Rock and Roll.
"He needs to get a good race into him if we're going to stick with our plans for the summer," the colt's trainer, Shug McGaughey, was quoted as saying in the Daily Racing Form. "I want a good, solid race and I'm going to tell [jockey] Mike Smith to make sure he gets one."
Those summer plans call for Coronado's Quest to race Aug. 9 in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park, where he'll likely face Real Quiet, Victory Gallop and Favorite Trick. A victory could catapult Coronado's Quest to the head of the class.
Then it's the Travers Aug. 29 at Saratoga. The ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs, a race that could include -- let's be really optimistic here -- Skip Away, Silver Charm, Gentlemen, Touch Gold, Free House, Real Quiet, Victory Gallop, Indian Charlie and Coronado's Quest.
Dash has 18 nominees
Maryland's big race of the summer and one of the top sprints of the year, Saturday's Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, has attracted 18 top nominees who all remain possible entrants. It's a Grade II, six-furlong race worth $300,000.
"At this stage, it's nice to say I can't write anybody off," said David Rollinson, Laurel Park's stakes coordinator.
Other major contenders from out-of-state are Kelly Kip, Tale of the Cat, Thisnearlywasmine, Trafalger, Heckofaralph and J J'sdream. Jove Stone and Original Gray top the local contingent.
Parking winners now
If you've mistaken Laurel's leading trainer for a guy parking cars, you're not alone. Ben Feliciano Jr., who has saddled a phenomenal seven winners from 11 starters, worked as a track parking-lot attendant until a couple of years ago.
"I think there are a lot of disbelievers out there," said Feliciano, 33, son of Ben Sr., a former jockey and trainer and now a jockey's agent. "They know me from working in the parking lot and galloping horses. They wonder how this guy can be winning races now."
But winning races he is at an unbelievable clip. Since he and his wife Laura, 30, moved their stable from Pimlico to Laurel last fall, Feliciano figures they've won 38 of 88 races, or 33.4 percent.
What's their secret?
"I can't really tell you," he said. "I guess we just work hard at it. We do everything ourselves."
They started with one horse four years ago -- the $5,000 claimer Eastern Mystic for which five of his parking-lot buddies contributed $1,000 apiece. She won first time for them, a $6,500 claiming race.
Their stock has improved with their success until now, Feliciano said, "I can't get enough stalls. We've got 20 horses and two more coming in. They're coming in so fast I can't keep up with them."
No breaks for 'Lies'
"Poor 'Lies'," Katy Voss said. "He's such a bad-luck horse."
After shattering Spectacular Bid's 19-year-old record last weekend for 1 1/16 miles at Delaware Park, Lies of Omission faces surgery for removal of a bone chip from his left front ankle. The 6-year-old gelding trained by Voss ran the distance in an allowance race in 1 minute, 41 2/5 seconds, one fifth of a second faster than The Bid. Lies of Omission paid $22.60 to win.
"That was the toughest allowance race I've seen in a long time," Voss said. "He broke the track record and only won by a length. He ran awesome. It was just a matter of all the pieces finally falling into place."
Lies of Omission has undergone surgery before for removal of a bone chip and an entrapped epiglottis. He also has other ailments.
Glad to be back
Redcall came out of double retirement and won his first race in two years last weekend at Laurel Park. Withstanding extreme pressure the entire race, the 8-year-old gelding led all the way in the 1 1/16-mile, $37,000 race on turf.
Robert Goldsmith, son of C. Oliver Goldsmith, decided to send Redcall back to the races after taking over some of his father's horses. The elder Goldsmith died last year.
Ron Cartwright, Redcall's trainer, said the gelding had actually been retired twice -- once in 1995 and again in 1996 -- because of suspensory-ligament problems. But, he said, Robert Goldsmith had Redcall thoroughly checked before offering him another chance. Redcall won his second race back.
Pub Date: 7/12/98