High five for Day

Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, sprints past the finish line with no other horses around.
Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, sprints past the finish line with no other horses around. (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)
After crossing the finish line, after one streak had ended and another one had been extended, Pat Day fired his left fist into the air. He spread his fingers as wide as he could.Five.

Five fingers, one for each victory in the Preakness.

Yesterday's victory aboard 8-1 Louis Quatorze was Day's third in a row. And that ended another streak -- six straight wins in Triple Crown races by trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

In this, there is great irony. Lukas bumped Day off one of his Preakness horses, Prince of Thieves. That left the Hall of Fame jockey with no date for the Preakness -- until Louis Quatorze's trainer called.

And history was set to be made.

As that story unfolded on the track, others equally tantalizing surely developed throughout the Pimlico grounds. On a day that began drearily but turned sunny and hot by afternoon, 85,122 fans crammed the historic racetrack.

They saw -- well, some of them saw -- Louis Quatorze pull off one of the great reversals of form in Triple Crown history. After finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, with no evident excuse, he ran away with the Preakness, leading every step of the way.

No winner of the Preakness ever had finished worse in the Kentucky Derby.

And Louis Quatorze's winning time of 1 minute, 53 2/5 seconds in the 1 3/16-mile race tied the Preakness record, set in 1985 by Tank's Prospect.

Trained by Nick Zito, who never had won a Preakness in five tries, Louis Quatorze crossed the finish line 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Skip Away. An additional three lengths back in third was Editor's Note.

The betting favorite, Cavonnier, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, finished fourth.

Louis Quatorze paid $19 to win.

After the race, Day expressed no bitterness against Lukas -- the trainer for whom he rode 1994 Preakness winner Tabasco Cat and 1995 Preakness winner Timber Country.

Yesterday, with Louis Quatorze, Day became the first jockey to win three Preaknesses in a row.

Asked whether losing the mount on Prince of Thieves, who finished seventh, fired his desire to win the Preakness, Day said: "If you can't get motivated to participate in a Triple Crown race, you'd better find another occupation."

He said he was disappointed to lose the mount, but not bitter.

"He's a sportsman," Day said of Lukas. "You can't blame the man for doing that. . . . I'm sorry that his streak ended. But I'm happy my streak continues."

Lukas defended the decision, as he had in recent days. He said replacing Day with Jerry Bailey was not a knock on Day, but "a coaching change."

Bailey is perhaps the hottest jockey in the country. But yesterday, he rode a sour horse.

"Although the track was listed as fast, it was the wettest fast I've seen," Bailey said. "We had a clean trip, but it was not his kind of racetrack."

Shane Sellers, who rode the runner-up Skip Away, put Day's victory into perspective.

"Louis Quatorze ran a great race. He got on the lead and walked the dog," Sellers said. "And he had the master on his back. . . . There's some justice there."

Zito, second to Lukas in three of his six straight Triple Crown wins, was the only trainer who brought his Preakness horse early to Baltimore. They came more than a week ago, and his horse trained enthusiastically over the track.

That might have helped, Zito said, but the crucial factor was the lack of early speed in the 12-horse Preakness field.

"When I went to talk to [Day] in the paddock," Zito said, "I said: 'Pat, I have a wish list. Let's talk about it."

'What would be excellent would be for you to get the lead. Two, if you can't get the lead, to lay second would be good. Three, if you can't be second, laying third would be fair.'

"Pat went for excellent."

Day hustled Louis Quatorze out of the gate, shaking the reins to get him moving quickly. He glided to the lead, and only Skip Away threatened.

Several times Day looked back -- over his left shoulder, then right shoulder, then between his legs.

"I kept expecting somebody to make a run at us," Day said.

Skip Away pulled alongside coming out of the final turn. But down the homestretch, Day swatted Louis Quatorze three times with his whip, and the son of Sovereign Dancer scooted off to become the first wire-to-wire Preakness winner since Aloma's Ruler in 1982.

Lukas' three entrants finished third (Editor's Note), fifth (Victory Speech) and seventh (Prince of Thieves). He was in fine spirits back at the stakes barn, despite the end of his streak.

His horses won six straight Triple Crown races, starting with the Preakness two years ago.

"I said before the race that this would have to end sometime," he said.

"We're blessed to have the six. I hope I live long enough to see somebody get No. 7. But I think we're going to wait a long time to see that."

Pat Day won his fifth Preakness and is the first jockey to win three straight:

Most wins in row

Jockey .. .. .. .. .. .Years

Pat Day .. .. .. .. 1994, '95, '96

Eddie Arcaro .. .. .1950, 1951

Fred Taral .. .. ...1894, 1895

T. Costello .. .. ..1881, 1882

L. Hughes .. .. .. .1879, 1880

C. Holloway .. .. ..1877, 1878

Most wins

Jockey .. .. .. .. .. .Years

Eddie Arcaro (6) .. 1941, '48, '50-51, '55, '57

Pat Day (5) .. .. ..1985, '90, '94-96

Bill Hartack (3) ...1956, '64, '69

G. Barbee (3) .. ...1873, '76, '83

L. Hughes (3) .. ...1875, '79-80

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