Impeachment is closing fast on Belmont; Third-place finisher ends with burst, stands to thrive at 1 1/2 miles; NOTEBOOK


When it became clear that Fusaichi Pegasus was not going to keep up with Red Bullet, the question turned to whether he could hold off the explosive late charge of Impeachment.

He did, but barely. Ridden by Craig Perret, Impeachment came within a head of overcoming the Kentucky Derby winner. Impeachment also finished third in the Derby, courtesy of the same late burst of speed."We had a good trip, but it turned out he was just the third best horse," Perret said. "One of these days the big guys are going to stub their toes and Impeachment is going to win a very significant race. He's always lurking, and one day he's going to bust through."

That breakthrough could come in three weeks in the Belmont Stakes, where, if all goes well, Impeachment could meet Fusaichi Pegasus and Red Bullet again."I guess the added distance of the Belmont makes sense for him," Impeachment's trainer, Todd Pletcher said of the Belmont's 1 1/2 miles. "But what he really needs is a fast pace. A half-mile in 50 is not going to help him."

1 3/16 too far for 'Steve'

Bob Baffert, trainer of the fourth-place finisher, Captain Steve, said he and jockey Robby Albarado tried a different strategy in the Preakness."We took him back," Baffert said of the usually speedy colt. "And he didn't run all that badly. But this [1 3/16 miles] is really too far for him."

Albarado concurred."He ran well to the sixteenth pole but leveled out," the jockey said.

Snuck In sharp, lacks kick

Snuck In claimed fifth after running an even race, never straying from fourth or fifth position."We had a great trip," said Cash Asmussen, his rider. "I had so much horse under me, and when Red Bullet came within three-quarters of a length of us, my horse responded beautifully. The difference was Red Bullet kept going, and we didn't. ... At a mile and a sixteenth, this horse will be there with anybody."

Cash's brother Steve, trainer of the horse (they are the first trainer-jockey brother combination in the Preakness), said he was proud of his horse."He laid fourth, just like we wanted him to, but he just didn't have enough," Steve Asmussen said. "He wasn't fast enough when it counted, and the fastest horse won."

Early leaders burn out

The three colts who set the blazing early fractions faded badly and brought up the rear: Hugh Hefner sixth, High Yield seventh and Hal's Hope eighth."We weren't embarrassed," said Marty Jones, trainer of the 49-1 Hugh Hefner.

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of High Yield, said his colt might have been too eager early."Going into the race, I felt as good about his chances as I did before the Derby," Lukas said. "The horse just didn't have it."

Harold Rose, the 88-year-old trainer of Hal's Hope, said, "Hal didn't really run his race. ... I knew he wasn't handling the track well. He had never run on an off track before."

Quiet Resolve wins Dixie

Canadian-bred Quiet Resolve overcame tight quarters with strong handling from jockey Albarado and nipped front-running Haami by a nose to win the Grade II, $200,000 Dixie Stakes, a feature on the undercard at Pimlico Race Course yesterday.

A major player in the turf division after beating Hawksley Hill through disqualification at 44-1 odds in the Grade I Atto Mile last fall, Quiet Resolve scored his second straight win.

Stalking alertly in the 1 1/8 -mile turf test, Quiet Resolve sat behind Haami and angled off the rail at the sixteenth pole."Until I crossed the finish line, I didn't think I was going to get there," Albarado said. "I was really worried at the eighth pole about getting there, but having a great trip really helped."

Roza Robata pulls away

Last after a half mile, Roza Robata roared through the stretch to pull away from Bella Chiarra by 4 1/2 lengths in the GradeIII, $200,000 Pimlico Distaff Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

A neck loser to Silverbulletday two races earlier, Roza Robata broke sluggishly but benefitted from Bella Chiarra and Silent Eskimo dueling on an honest pace.

Dr. Max makes the grade

Long shot Dr. Max drove determinedly down the lane to overcome Moon Over Prospect by a nose and capture the Grade III, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap by a nose.

Locally based, Dr. Max returned $31.40 to win in his seventh lifetime score in 11 starts and his first victory in a graded stakes. The favorites, defending champion Yes It's True and Grand Hope, were never factors.

Trainer Gloria Wenderoth said she scratched Dr.Max on Friday because "six furlongs is a better distance and I wanted to run him in the MATCH series on my home track. I thought he could handle these horses. I was just thrilled with the stretch run."When I saw he had to duck around horses - just about make a right turn - and still win, I couldn't believe it. This is my first graded stakes win and first stakes win period. In my 30 years around horses, this is the meanest horse I've ever handled, but I let him get away with it because he keeps on winning."

Broken Vow unloads

Broken Vow, a lightly raced, undefeated Unbridled colt, scored his fourth victory in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes despite loading problems at the gate and a wide trip.

He fended off a late charge by Grundlefoot to capture the 11/16-mile route by three quarters parts of a length."This is a very serious horse," said victorious trainer Graham Motion. "Owner Mrs. [Josephine] Abercrombie has been very conservative with him, and it's worked out just right. This was a big step for him. He's a big, strong, good-looking horse who has done everything we want so far."

Winning jockey Sellers appeared to be in trouble when parked out four wide after breaking from the No. 8 post."I hate being caught out there like that. I couldn't clear the field and I couldn't take back, either. So, I just let him go on with it," Sellers said. "I didn't want to take his race away from him. He won with utmost ease despite a bad trip."

Ecton Park strolls to victory

Ecton Park went wire-to-wire in the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap, taking the 1 1/8 -mile race by 8 1/4 lengths over The Groom Is Red."The track was a bit sticky, but this horse went on it," winning jockey Pat Day said. "Elliott [Walden, the trainer] had left me a message before that he wanted to make sure I was kind of in the hunt, but he never said anything about trying to go to the lead or anything like that."

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