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Chestnuts hold public’s attention in Preakness; eight starters probable

By Staff | May 18, 2018

The horses are coming! The horses are coming!

A probable eight of the most discussed 3-year-olds in the land will be fawned over in Baltimore this weekend.

Thoroughbreds all. Chestnuts, dark browns, bays. Some calm, with careful manners. Others a little more intense, with prancing feet and a sweat that reveals their nerves.

It’s the Preakness Stakes, the race where Secretariat stole all the hearts he hadn’t already won in stories written about him or when he cascaded down the long homestretch at Churchill Downs in winning the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

Only eight starters are probable, but one of them is the chiseled chestnut who sloshed through the muck and mire to win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

Justify is his name. So far, making equine history has been his game.

He’s an elongated and muscular athlete, and he seems to recognize his star power, which isn’t often seen in a thoroughbred with only four career races. He’s unbeaten in those four starts, the first coming not too long ago on Feb. 19.

The 20-horse field in the Kentucky Derby couldn’t handle him. He broke free from all but one of them when smoothly leaving the starting gate. Kicking back mud and goo at the others, Justify accepted a challenge to his lead from Good Magic, another marvelous thoroughbred, so photogenic he could have been painted by a Flemish master. Kicking away from Good Magic, Justify finished well and won by 2.5 lengths.

Good Magic was second and he’s coming to Baltimore, with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard, at a track that has bred contempt for its seedy appearance, sore spaces without human conveniences and PR disasters, where air conditioners failed to work and even the race timer malfunctioned when Secretariat was in town.

The six others are longshots, with either famous trainers, owners or riders.

Quip comes in from Arkansas and didn’t try the Derby. Bravazo was sixth in the Derby. The dark bay isn’t timber tall, nor is he as sleek as a Lamborghini or Ferrari.

Then there’s Tenfold, a little-raced factor who – like Justify and Good Magic – didn’t see the inside of a starting gate at age two.

Sporting Chance was only fourth in the Pat Day Mile, run on the same Saturday as the Kentucky Derby. Brown as a berry and with a long white slash running the length of his head, he’s going to be an outsider at Pimlico.

Diamond King is trained by John Servis, a graduate of Jefferson High School who had Smarty Jones win the Kentucky Derby years ago. The soft brown colt could be a big number on the tote board should he do something special Saturday.

Only eighth in the Derby, Lone Sailor may not have liked the ooze that came back his way from the leaders. It could be another wet track for the Preakness.

Justify will rightfully command the most attention. Good Magic will be asked to pose for almost as many cellphone photos.

The horses are coming! The horses are coming!

They’ll sweep in and out of Pimlico like the polished stars they are. Black-eyed Susans. Old Hilltop Race Course. The winner’s silks painted on the weather vane atop the tote board. And posted in the same record book as the incomparable Secretariat.