Point Given, the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), redeemed himself two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), taking racing's middle leg of the Triple Crown Saturday in authoritative fashion before a record Pimlico crowd.
Under Gary Stevens, Point Given was full of run in the final turn, sweeping three wide, hooking stablemate Congaree, and seizing the lead as the field straightened away for home. He crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths in front of another closer, A P Valentine, with Congaree again just beaten for third. He was a neck behind A P Valentine and 1 1/4 lengths in front of Dollar Bill.
Derby winner Monarchos finished sixth. Monarchos and Point Given vied for favoritism before the race, actually flip-flopping several times as the money poured in. At post time, Point Given was the slight favorite, both horses sent postward at 2-1. There was $1,332,065 in the win pool on Point Given and $1,328,229 on Monarchos.
Trainer Bob Baffert thought two prep races were enough for Point Given going in to the May 5 Derby, but apparently he was wrong. With the Derby fifth-place finish behind him, however, Point Given looked much stronger in the Preakness and the result was never in doubt.
"We were disappointed after the Derby, but we had confidence in the horse," Baffert said. "I loved the way he worked before the race.
"I knew at the quarter pole he was the winner. I haven't seen a move like that since Real Quiet."
As expected, Richly Blended, under Rick Wilson, shot to the lead out of the gate and led the field down the stretch the first time, through the first turn, and onto the backside. Congaree was being restrained by Jerry Bailey.
Mr. John also showed good early speed, but he stopped abruptly and was practically eased under the wire.
As they entered the turn, Richly Blended began to fade and Congaree got his head in front. Point Given engaged Congaree and it took him awhile to get past because he refused to change leads. He finally did change leads, about 70 yards from the wire.
Once clear, there was no denying Point Given as Stevens drove him to the wire. They crossed the finish in the 1 3/16-mile race in 1:55.51. The fractions for the race were :23.84, :47.32, 1:11.86, and 1:36.40.
Point Given paid $6.80, $5 and $4. A P Valentine, who certainly had a cleaner trip that his troubled Derby, returned $8.20 and $5.20. Congaree was worth $3.40. The exacta returned $81.40.
Point Given is owned by his breeder, Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp. The prince was not at the race, instead represented by his racing manager, Richard Mulhall.
This was the third Preakness win for Baffert, who won with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet the following year. Stevens was winning his second Preakness, having ridden Silver Charm for Baffert.
Point Given is by Thunder Gulch and out of the Turkoman mare Turko's Turn.
Point Given has now won six of his 10 lifetime starts. Last year at two, he very nearly won the Eclipse Award. He would have been champion had he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), but he was beaten a nose by Macho Uno, who was voted the championship. Point Given came back after the Breeders' Cup to win the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
Point Given won both his starts before the Derby, the San Felipe (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). In the Derby, he finished fifth, beaten 11 1/2 lengths.
"The real Point Given showed up today," Stevens said. "He put a great field away. He did it easily and all of America knows what a great racehorse he is now."
The complete order of finish was: Point Given, A P Valentine, Congaree, Dollar Bill, Griffinite, Monarchos, Marciano, Bay Eagle, Percy Hope, Richly Blended, and Mr. John.
"I had a terrible feeling in the first turn. He didn't want to go to his right lead," Monarchos' trainer, John Ward Jr. said. "He didn't seem to be taking to the track. He wouldn't go to his left lead in the stretch. He just was uncomfortable."
Pimlico announced a record crowd of 104,454 saw Point Given win the 126th Preakness. The old record was 100,311 in 1999. (Chart, Equibase