DERBY WINNER, CONTENDERS DESCEND ON OLD HILLTOP

Published By: 
Phil Janack
Published: 
May 12, 2014

            After having the Preakness stakes barn to himself for 4 ½ days, Social Inclusion is having to be, well, social.

            Led by Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, three Preakness contenders arrived this afternoon at Pimlico Race Course for the track’s signature race, to be run for the 139thtime on Saturday.

            They are the first Preakness horses to take up residence in Baltimore since Florida-based Social Inclusion, who has been here since before sunrise on May 8.

            Escorted by five motorcycles and a cruiser from the Baltimore Police Department, the blue and white Brook Ledge horse van carrying California Chrome from Baltimore-Washington International Airport pulled into the Pimlico backstretch at 3:14 p.m.

            Before being led off the van six minutes later, California Chrome stood in the doorway and surveyed the crowd of reporters, photographers, track officials and racing fans that had gathered nearby.

            He let out a loud whinny after he was backed out and turned around to walk the path of shavings that leads to the stakes barn, stopping to pose for the cameras until taking the final steps to his home for the next several days.

            “I guess he wanted to let everyone know he was here,” one fan remarked.

            California Chrome walked the shedrow and was brought to stall 40, traditionally reserved for the Derby winner. Even some of the police officers who helped get the California-bred horse here stuck around to watch, taking out their cell phones to snap a few shots.

            A total of 13 horses took the same flight from Kentucky to Baltimore on Monday, touching down shortly before 2 p.m. Three vans brought them to Pimlico.

            At 3:32 p.m., a third van pulled up to unload Preakness contenders Ride On Curlin and General a Rod as well as filly Shanon Nicole, a Mike Maker-trained stablemate of General a Rod who will run in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan.

            Kid Cruz was expected to arrive early Monday evening by van from Belmont Park in New York.

            Bayern, Dynamic Impact, Pablo Del Monte and filly Ria Antonia are scheduled to arrive from Kentucky on Wednesday, with the final Preakness contender, Ring Weekend, coming from the nearby Fair Hill Training Center by noon on Thursday.

            Alan Sherman, assistant trainer to his father, Art Sherman, accompanied California Chrome to Baltimore. At 77, Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the Derby.

            Should he win the Preakness, he won’t be the oldest. Legendary ‘Sunny Jim’ Fitzsimmons was 82 years, 10 months when he captured the 82ndrunning with Bold Ruler in 1957.

            That record can be broken, though; Preakness rookie Manny Azpurua is 85. His horse? Social Inclusion.

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