NBC Sports' coverage of the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) managed a 4.5 national rating/11 share for its 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. EDT telecast.
The following is a potpourri of impressions, observations, afterthoughts, and memorable quotes from this year's Triple Crown, which proved to be a pretty wild ride. There was nothing ordinary about the cast of characters and the unusual paths they took to get to Churchill Downs and beyond.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union of New York, division of mutuel employees, Local 3, has overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with the New York Racing Association, averting a possible work stoppage or sickout on Belmont Stakes day June 11.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - Only a handful of people were watching on the morning of April 26 when Afleet Alex recorded his first workout over the Churchill Downs strip in preparation for this year's Kentucky Derby.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman - A politician wins the primary but is defeated in the general election. A pro football player on a winning Super Bowl team is traded to the worst team in the league. A rider wins the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and then two weeks later loses the Preakness (gr. I).
Preakness records for handle and attendance were shattered Saturday, according to figures released by the Maryland Jockey Club.
After nearly going down when bumped by Scrappy T entering the stretch, a gutsy Afleet Alex recovered and went on to win the $1-million Preakness (gr. I) in impressive fashion Saturday at Pimlico.
Cool Conductor finished first in an optional claiming race but was disqualified to third on Kentucky Derby (gr. I) day at Churchill Downs. But on Preakness day,he stepped up and took the $200,000 CompUSA Dixie (gr. IIT), upsetting heavily favored Artie Schiller by a nose in a thrilling stretch duel.
Jerry Bailey took Zakocity wire-to-wire Saturday to win the $100,000 William D. Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico, the race prior to the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
With about 75 minutes to the post for the 130th running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Afleet Alex is the solid 5-2 favorite, with about $750,000 in the win pool.
Pinpoint wanted the lead and Rafael Bejarano made sure he got it, controlling the pace and having plenty left for the stretch run in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes Saturday at Pimlico.
Edgar Prado got a great trip and Willy o'the Valley responded, winning her third straight race Saturday in the Emirates Airline Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico.
Tim Ritchey and Jeremy Rose, who hope to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Afleet Alex, won a stakes on the undercard Saturday, taking the $50,000 Murmur Farm Starter Handicap with Testy Guy.
The stakes program got off to a good start Saturday at Pimlico with odds-on choice English Channel blazing home well clear in the $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez.
What a difference a day makes. On Friday in Baltimore, the morning began with rain, wind, and chilliness. Patrons heading to Pimlico Saturday for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) awoke to bright, sunny skies and temperatures so pleasant jackets and sweaters were not necessary.
If the rain stops as predicted Friday afternoon, Pimlico track superintendent Jamie Richardson said he expects the track surface to be fast on Saturday.
Friday's Highlights: Greeley's Galaxy Breezes 3 Furlongs In Quick :34.80; Giacomo Walks Under Tack; Afleet Alex Jogs.
Handicappers aren't the only ones who have questions prior to a race. Trainers do, too.
Nick Zito ran five horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) -- including the favorite -- and no one has to remind him they finished seventh, eighth, 10th, 14th, and 15th. But the Preakness (gr. I) is a new day, Zito said Friday morning at Pimlico.
Trainer John Shirreffs took some time at the stakes barn at Pimilco on a wet Friday morning to discuss Giacomo and his chances for tomorrow's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) two weeks ago at 50-1 and the colt makes his bid to become the fourth 3-year-old in a row to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
With the wind blowing and rain falling, B. Wayne Hughes' Greeley's Galaxy rolled through a three-furlong workout in :34.87 on a sloppy track at Pimlico Race Course Friday morning in preparation for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
There was only one way Scrappy T would run in the Preakess (gr. I) Saturday at Pimlico...he had to win the April 30 Withers Stakes (gr. III). And, he did.
Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, who drew Post 13 for the Preakness, got his first look at the Pimlico course in an easy gallop Thursday, the morning after he shipped in from Churchill Downs. Afleet Alex, the 5-2 morning line favorite who will go from Post 12, jogged and galloped Thursday morning.
In the race immediately preceding the Preakness (gr. I) at Pimlico Saturday, eight older horses will contest the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) over nine furlongs.
Premiere Radio Networks will deliver the exclusive radio call of the 130th Preakness Stakes May 21 live from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The one-hour broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET) with The Preakness Stakes post time scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
Although High Fly will have to wait until Tuesday morning to earn his way into the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) field during a scheduled half-mile workout at Churchill Downs, stablemates Noble Causeway and Sun King punched their tickets to Pimlico Race Course after pleasing trainer Nick Zito with their respective five-furlong workouts Monday morning
Afleet Alex, the only contender for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) currently at Pimlico, went out onto the main track twice Saturday morning.
Greeley's Galaxy, winner of the Illinois Derby (gr. I) and 11th in last week's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), tuned up for an expected run in the Preakness (gr. I) with a sharp five furlong work in the slop on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
After three days of mild exercise in the barn, Jerry and Ann Moss' Giacomo, the surprise winner of the 131st Kentucky Derby (gr. I), returned to the Churchill Downs track Wednesday for the first time since his stunning victory.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winning rider Mike Smith had to ride a masterful race to get Giacomo to the wire first but the jockey said today the journey was almost exactly as he planned.
Trainer Jeff Mullins, back at his Santa Anita stable where he'll prepare Buzzards Bay for a probable start in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 11, said he took pleasure in seeing how well the much-criticized California contingent did against the best the East Coast had to offer in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The racing office of the Maryland Jockey Club Tuesday released the lists of nominees for the thirteen other stakes that make up Preakness (gr. I) weekend, May 20-21.
Trainer Tim Ritchey confirmed Wednesday that Afleet Alex will be the first Preakness (gr. I) shipper to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn. The third place finisher in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is to get on a van Wednesday morning at Churchill and is expected at Old Hilltop in the late afternoon.
Trainer John Shirreffs said he'll give Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo a few days to walk and rest at Churchill Downs before being shipped to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 21.
Giacomo, the second biggest upset winner in the 131-year history of the Kentucky Derby, runner-up Closing Argument and third place finisher Afleet Alex could all start in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 21 although winning trainer John Shirreffs hasn't committed his son of Holy Bull.
Continuing a relationship that began in 2001, NBC Sports has reached an agreement with Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment/Maryland Jockey Club to telecast the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes an additional five years, from 2006 to 2010.
Internationally recognized equine artist Robert Schaar has created the official poster for the 130th Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
B. Wayne Hughes could easily wind up on the outside looking in with Greeley's Galaxy for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in spite of the colt's $300,000 in graded earnings from his Illinois Derby (gr. II) win April 9.
Live racing on the Maryland circuit shifts to historic Pimlico Race Course April 20 for the spring meet. The headline event of the eight-week stand is the 130th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the middle jewel of the VISA Triple Crown, on May 21.
A total of 358 3-year-olds have been nominated for the 2005 Visa Triple Crown. Although the figure is down from the 400-plus nominations in each of the previous four years, it will be of little significance once the multitude of talented 3-year-olds start making their way toward the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
December or no December, the journey to Louisville has officially begun. Just ask any trainer with a promising 2-year-old if the lure of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hasn't already taken a firm hold. Over the past 10 days we've seen several exciting hopefuls emerge. And there's still that little matter of crowning a champ this weekend.
The TNT television network is said to be developing an original TV movie based on the book "Funny Cide."
If you've had enough of presidential campaigns and elections, you might want to try your hand at predicting the winner of Thoroughbred racing's Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.
The Maryland Jockey Club unveiled the 2005 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) logo Thursday and announced that tickets for the 130th running go on sale Friday, Oct. 1, almost two months earlier than in previous years.
Deputed Testamony, the oldest living winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), has been pensioned from stallion duty at the Boniface family's Bonita Farm near Darlington, Md.
Trainer John Servis is not worried about Smarty Jones getting the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) distance of 1 1/2 miles. But just a few months ago he was worried about the colt going 1 1/4 miles.
By Ray Paulick -- Somewhere at the Aurora, Canada, corporate headquarters where Frank Stronach sits atop his Magna International and Magna Entertainment Corp. empire, there is a warehouse filled with architectural drawings and miniature models for changes to the racetracks Magna now owns.
NBC Sports' broadcast of Smarty Jones' win in the 129th Preakness Stakes (gr. I) Saturday delivered a 6.1 national rating / 15 share for the full telecast, which is the best since 1990 and a 22% improvement over last year's 5.0/13, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 1990 Preakness, won by Summer Squall, generated a 7.2 rating/21 share.
Vincent Papandrea's Little Matth Man, eighth in the May 15 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), came out of the race with a chip fracture of his left front knee and could be out for at least six months.
Jockey advertisements worn during the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) telecast on NBC received little "exposure time," a sports marketing firm's analysis has concluded.
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