Dollar Bill arrived in good spirits at the Pimlico stakes barn yesterday morning. It is something of a surprise that the horse is here. Trainer Dallas Stewart said he hadn't been immediately sure if his horse would run the Preakness.
Dollar Bill has had three straight bad races, the last one the Kentucky Derby. There he was severely impeded at the far turn, lost his momentum and finished 15th.
"We weren't sure how he'd come out of that," said Stewart. "Then, a couple days later, he worked good, looked great physically and showed no ill effects. And then, he had a great workout. That went a long way in our decision.
"We think he's a quality horse and want to give him a chance to prove himself."
Dollar Bill had an excellent flight and enjoyed a bath shortly after arrival.
"All the big races are going to be tough," said Stewart, who refused to say the Preakness is any more or less tough than the other two Triple Crown races. "To win any of these races, just a lot of things have to go right for you, and you have to have the best horse."
Stewart added he thought the pace of the race Saturday "would be solid" and that's exactly what his horse wants. "We feel if he gets a good trip, he can get the job done."
Besides Dollar Bill, three other Preakness horses arrived safely at the track yesterday. Point Given led the way off the trailer at 10:25 a.m. behind the stakes barns. Congaree followed him down the ramp. Mr. John came in on the same flight, but then went by van to the other side of the track. Mr. John will be stabled in Barn 3 on the backstretch-side of Pimlico.
An eight-horse field of fillies was slashed to just three by the time the $75,000 Hilltop Stakes was run yesterday afternoon. But that didn't mean any less joy for Guillotine, jockey Mark Johnston, trainer Hamilton Smith and owner Steve Kell. He and his brother, Richard, own the Maryland-based Hot Silks Racing Stable.
"That was fun," said Johnston, who beat favorite Tweedside and Dear Pickles by a length. "She's been a great claim. I was sure she'd give her all and she did."
Guillotine was claimed in February for $14,500. Kell estimates the 3-year-old is now worth "between one and two hundred thousand."
Top of the morning
Monarchos galloped a mile and a half in fine form yesterday morning.
"I figure he's just about to jump out of his skin," said smiling trainer John J. Ward, indicating the Kentucky Derby winner is primed for the Preakness. "We're just filling up the tank. Another good gallop tomorrow morning [today] and we'll school at the [starting] gate. On Friday, he'll jog a little and [then] lead him over Saturday afternoon.
"This is uncharted water for me to come to the Preakness just two weeks after the Derby, so I asked some people that have done it."
Ward added he is a little concerned about Saturday, saying he has no idea how the race will unfold.
"I am concerned what Jerry Bailey is going to do with Congaree."
Fillies take stage
Seven 3-year-old fillies will vie for a $100,000 purse in today's feature, the Miss Preakness Stakes over six furlongs.
The field includes the Edward P. Evans entry of Gold Mover, who has two graded stakes victories among six overall, and the highly regarded Raging Fever, who won five straight, including two Grade I events, before finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies championship.
Undefeated in four races, the overnight favorite is Kimbralata, locally trained by Dale Capuano but yet to be tested by the nation's finest. Also in the mix is Stormy Pick, the Ben Perkins Jr. trainee whose credentials include a win in the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga last summer.
Today's card also has the $100,000-added Joe Aitcheson Stakes, the second leg of the steeplechase Triple Crown. All seven who competed in the Hard Schuffle Stakes at Churchill Downs May 3 are entered, including winner Praise The Prince, who has captured his last four over jumps.
Orioles announcer Fred Manfra will be the field commentator on the Premiere Radio Networks and Host Communications radio call of the Preakness, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Post time is expected to be 6:06 p.m. He will join nationally renowned race caller Dave Johnson, anchor Don Chevrier and color commentator Jorge Velasquez, a Hall of Fame jockey.