Rugged 'Special Field Faces Southern Image

(from Pimlico report)
Two grade I winners highlight a field of six that will contest the $500,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I), the major event on Friday's stakes-packed pre-Preakness Day card at Pimlico Race Course.

The other major events slated for Friday are the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II); the $150,000 Pimlico Distaff Breeders' Cup (gr. III); the $100,000 Adena Stallions' Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III); and the $75,000 The Very One Stakes.

Assigned high weight at 120 pounds in the 1 3/16-mile Special is Southern Image, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in his last start. The Mike Machowsky-trained 4-year-old drew post 4 with Victor Espinoza in the boot.

Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) last year, was entered but scratched by trainer Barclay Tagg on Thursday due to the heat in the Baltimore area. In post 3 is Evening Attire, who has earned more than $2 million in his career. He carries 115 with Edgar Prado riding.

Lightly raced Southern Image has won four in a row and five of his six lifetime starts. The Halo's Image colt was on the Triple Crown trail early last year when he was hurt after running third in the San Vicente (gr. II). He returned during the summer to win an allowance at Del Mar, but then was not seen again until he started his 2004 campaign with a win in the Malibu (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. He followed that with a win in the Sunshine Millions Classic. On March 6, he took the Big 'Cap as the favorite.

Southern Image, who will ship to Pimlico on Tuesday, had his final work before the race on Sunday at Santa Anita. The colt drilled a half-mile in :49.

"It was just an easy maintenance breeze," Machowsky said. "He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01. He's just really training good, and I think he's getting more and more professional with each start."

Evening Attire, a 6-year-old by Black Tie Affair, has not won a race since last summer at Saratoga. However, the Pat Kelly-trained gelding was second to Funny Cide in the Excelsior and second to Midway Road in the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland last month.

Midway Road made a show of the Ben Ali, drawing off to win by more than 11 lengths over a sloppy track. The 4-year-old by Jade Hunter made his Pimlico debut last year when he ran second to Funny Cide in the Preakness. Trainer Neil Howard won last year's Pimlico Special with Mineshaft, who was named Horse of the Year 2003 and Eclipse Champion Older Horse.

William S. Farish's Midway Road tuned up with a blistering :46 1/5 half-mile work at Churchill Downs on Sunday, the second-fastest of the morning. Midway Road hooked up with another horse during the work and went a bit faster than Howard had planned. "He does that anyway, but things are never going to go perfect," said Howard. "It looked like he worked good."

Dynever, trained by Christophe Clement, ran fourth in last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He opened his 4-year-old season with a victory in the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. III) last out on April 3.

Bowman's Band, now trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, has not run since he was third in the Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream in March. Last year, he took the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup (gr. II).

Elliott Walden trains Ole Faunty, a 5-year-old by Quiet American who won Laurel's John B. Campbell Handicap in February. Last time out, he was second to Peace Rules in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) on April 3.

$500,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I), 4 & up 1 3/16 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Midway Road (KY), 116, Robby Albarado
2. Ole Faunty (KY), 114, Pat Day
3. Evening Attire (KY), Edgar S. Prado
4. Southern Image (FL), 120, Victor Espinoza
5. SCRATCHED Funny Cide (NY), 118, Jose A. Santos
6. Bowman's Band (KY), 113, Ramon A. Dominguez
7. Dynever (KY), 117, Corey S. Nakatani