Kissin Saint, Peace Rules, New York Hero Arrive at Pimlico
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 5/15/2003 2:24:46 PM
Last Updated: 5/17/2003 12:39:45 PM

Kissin Saint, owned by Michael Rankowitz and Peter Karches, arrived at Pimlico at approximately 9:15 Thursday morning, bringing the number of Preakness horses on the grounds to five.

The son of Kissin Kris finished third behind Empire Maker and Funny Cide in the Wood Memorial in his last start. He was accompanied by trainer Lisa Lewis, who will be saddling her first horse in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Her mother, Penny Lewis, sent out Hegar to a ninth-place finish in the 1993 Preakness.

"He has really improved and he's been training super," Lewis said. "I feel he's ready to run a big race."

Kissin Saint would be another great human interest story, as he was claimed by Lewis for $50,000 back on Jan. 12 in a maiden race he won by 14 lengths. He rattled off two straight allowance victories before finishing third in the Wood, in which he was forced to alter his course after the break when New York Hero cut right in front of him.

Richard Migliore, who almost pulled off a huge upset with Magic Weisner in last year's Preakness, will be aboard Kissin Saint, whom he has ridden in his last two starts.

In other Preakness news, Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, the 7-5 morning line favorite, likely will ship to Pimlico Friday night, arriving around 2 a.m. Saturday morning. The son of Distorted Humor also will be stabled on the backside of the track, meaning virtually no one will see the Derby winner until he comes out to be saddled for the race.

Peace Rules, third in the Derby and the 8-5 morning line second choice, arrived at Pimlico Race Course at 2:45 p.m. Thursday. The Bobby Frankel-trained Peace Rules is stabled in Barn A at Pimlico, once the home of legendary trainers Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons and Henry Clark.

New York Hero arrived later Thursday. Owned by Ernie Paragallo, New York Hero was represented at the post position draw by bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, who had a choice of picking the 9 post and putting Funny Cide and Peace Rules next to each other in the starting gate, but opted for post 8. Chace said he wanted to be inside as much as possible, and is not worried about breaking between the two favorites. It was Chace who picked out New York Hero at last year's 2-year-old at nearby Timonium for $135,000.

The most unusual move of the draw was Bob Baffert, who had the third selection order, picking post 10 on the far outside. Baffert, who has won two Preaknesses from outside posts – with Real Quiet and Point Given, said he chose the outside because the colt is light on experience, and coming off the turf, he wanted to make sure he didn't get dirt kicked in his face. The last time he ran on the dirt, in the Wood Memorial, he ran down on all fours, which is why Baffert ran him in the Crown Royal American Turf with front bandages. Baffert realizes he faces a tough task, but said he is "hoping to knock over the apple cart."

The two local horses – Cherokee's Boy and Foufa's Warrior -- will van to Pimlico on Saturday from Bowie and Laurel, respectively. Cherokee's Boy's trainer, Gary Capuano, has been here before, but under different circumstances. Instead of a 15-1 morning line horse, he brought the Kentucky Derby runner-up Captain Bodgit here for the 1997 Preakness, finishing third in a three-horse photo with Silver Charm and Free House. A subsequent fracture prior to the Belmont Stakes ended the colt's career.

Cherokee's Boy's only poor race in his 12-race career was a fifth-place finish in the Illinois Derby, an effort Capuano still cannot explain. "It was just one of those races," he said. "But I'm encouraged by the way he came back and won the Federico Tesio (by 2 ¾ lengths) so impressively. This is such a cool horse. He travels well wherever you send him and he always cleans out his tub; he's just a great horse to train. Although he won the Tesio on the front end, Capuano said he feels the colt will have no trouble rating.

One horse no one is paying much attention to is Midway Road, and while trainer Neil Howard acknowledges the fact that he looks to be in over his head, he did say the colt has shown tremendous improvement after undergoing surgery to correct an entrapped epiglottis. He returned to finish a solid third in an allowance sprint at Fair Grounds before romping by nearly 12 lengths in allowance company at Keeneland.

"I know he didn't beat anything that day," Howard said, "but he won with such ease that Mr. (William S.) Farish felt he wanted to take a shot in the Preakness, and I was all for it. You don't see Mr. Farish making those kinds of moves, but he knows the horse has shown a lot of improvement since the surgery. If he finishes a good third or fourth we'll be thrilled."

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