Jockey Elliott Ready to Ride

Jockey Stewart Elliott is ready to stop answering questions about his past and is anxious to take the gate aboard 6-5 favorite Smarty Jones in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.

"It's just time consuming really," Elliott said of the questioning. "I just try to handle it, I do what I can. It's just constant. Everybody's on the phone, everybody's tryin to getya. I try to do the best I can but it just keeps you very busy without a very busy schedule of my own. It won't bother me Saturday at all."

Elliott was fined $1,000 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for submitting an inaccurate application for a license to ride in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Elliott pleaded guilty to assault three years ago following a fight with a friend, but he didn't disclose the information when applying for a license to ride at Churchill Downs.

"In a way I didn't think about the license thing," the rider said Friday while addressing the media in the Pimlico press box. "I kinda thought they might dig up some of my bad stuff. I have nothing to hide. I've had personal problems and I've done some things that I am not proud of, but that's behind me. I want to just look ahead to the future and hopefully all that mess is behind me."

As far as the Preakness is concerned, Elliott expects the race to unfold much like the Derby although he does expect to place Smarty Jones closer to expected front runner Lion Heart in the early going.

"Regardless of the track conditions, we might have to be a little closer to Lion Heart anyway," Stewart told a group of reporters Friday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course. "The race is a little shorter distance and the track is a little more speed favorable. So we're probably going to be watching him. but I'm pretty confident in my horse right now. I think he's gonna be pretty tough."

Lion Heart will not be the only horse gunning for Smarty Jones. New comers Eddington and Rock Hard Ten are also eyeing to knock off the Derby winner.

"My horse has run strong, but you always have to worry about fresh horses," he said. "This could be the toughest race for him because you always have to worry about fresh horses. Now everyone is gunning for us."