Horse Racing / Bill Christine : McCarron Tries to Brush Off Triple Crown Hex

Chris McCarron has taken the collar in 10 rides in Triple Crown races. Today, however, he will have one of his better chances to win a Triple Crown event when he rides Broad Brush in the 111th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Broad Brush, third in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Jim Beam at Latonia and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in two previous starts, is listed at 3-1 for the Preakness by the Pimlico linemaker.

Derby winner Ferdinand and the entry of Badger Land and Clear Choice are rated ahead of Broad Brush in the seven-horse field.

Most of McCarron's other Triple Crown mounts--six in the Derby, three in the Preakness and one in the Belmont Stakes--have been much longer prices than the Pimlico-based and Maryland-bred Broad Brush will be.

The only favorite in a Triple Crown race that McCarron has ridden was Althea, who was coupled with another filly, Life's Magic, in the 1984 Derby. Althea led the Derby for six furlongs, then stopped, and McCarron eased her to a 19th-place finish, beating only one horse.

More typical of McCarron mounts in the Triple Crown have been Fast Account, 92-1 while finishing fourth in the 1985 Derby; Esops Foibles, 49-1 and fifth in the 1978 Derby, and Regal Sir, last in the 1977 Preakness at 69-1.

McCarron's best Triple Crown finishes have been seconds--with 9-1 Bold Arrangement in this year's Derby, 15-1 Desert Wine in the 1983 Derby and 4-1 Desert Wine in the '83 Preakness.

McCarron's Triple Crown record resembles that of Laffit Pincay, another national riding champion who was 0 for 16 in the series until he won the Belmont with Conquistador Cielo in 1982.

After that, Triple Crown wins seemed to be hanging from trees for Pincay. He won the Belmont again with Caveat in 1983 and with Swale in 1984, after Swale had given him his first Derby win in '84.

Pincay has never won the Preakness and doesn't have a mount here today, having been replaced on longshot Groovy by Craig Perret.

The Broad Brush ride opened for McCarron when owner Robert Meyerhoff and trainer Dick Small hired the 31-year-old former Pimlico riding champion after Vince (Jimbo) Bracciale had ridden the colt in the Derby.

Taking Bracciale off Broad Brush was not a popular move along the Pimlico backstretch. Before the Derby, Bracciale had won every time he rode Broad Brush--twice here besides the victories in the Jim Beam and the Wood.

Small is saying that the change was made because he and Meyerhoff wanted to make sure that their horse didn't have to run against another Preakness starter ridden by McCarron. That's a somewhat unsatisfactory explanation.

McCarron's best Triple Crown prospects in recent years were horses that never made it to the Derby because of injuries and even death. The list includes Stalwart, Lord Avie and Hostage, and this year there were several--Storm Cat, Meadowlake, Variety Road and the ill-fated Ketoh.

So for whatever reason, McCarron is at the Preakness with a good shot. Broad Brush could get the Triple Crown monkey off his back.

Gregg McCarron, Chris' 37-year-old brother, is returning to Maryland to ride after five years in New York. Gregg frequently commuted to New York from the horse farm that he and his wife, Darlene, have continued to operate in Mount Airy, Md.

Bill Shoemaker, at 54 the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, will be in a Triple Crown race for the 46th time when he rides Ferdinand in the Preakness.

Shoemaker is 4 for 24 in the Derby, 2 for 11 in the Preakness and 5 for 10 in the Belmont.

Shoemaker's Preakness winners were Candy Spots in 1963 and Damascus in 1967. Damascus was the only horse to give him two Triple Crown wins, winning the Preakness and Belmont after having run third as the favorite behind Proud Clarion and Barbs Delight in the Derby.

The Jersey Derby, with its $1-million purse and $2-million bonus, got Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck to skip the Preakness last year but hasn't stolen Pimlico's thunder this year.

None of the prominent horses in the Kentucky Derby skipped the Preakness to go to Garden State Park this year.

There is a chance, however, that the Jersey Derby will wind up with two of the Preakness starters. Wayne Lukas, who trains Badger Land and Clear Choice, and Mel Stute, who conditions Snow Chief, have indicated that the Jersey Derby could be in their plans, even though it's only nine days after the Preakness.

Racing Notes Jim Fregosi, who manages the Louisville Redbirds, the St. Louis Cardinals' farm club in the American Assn., said he made a serious bet on Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby. "The experience factor of the jockey (Bill Shoemaker) and trainer (Charlie Whittingham) made me go for the horse," Fregosi said. . . . ABC's rating for the 90-minute Derby telecast was 13.6, which translates to about 30 million viewers, up from the disappointing 10.9 of the previous year. . . . Ron Franklin, who won the Derby and the Preakness with Spectacular Bid in 1979, is in trouble again. He has had three positive drug tests, and the Pimlico stewards have recommended to the Maryland Racing Commission that his jockey's license be revoked.

Undefeated Phone Trick's foot problems kept him out of the Carter Handicap at Belmont Park last Saturday, and the sprinter is back at Hollywood Park. . . . Angel Cordero, seriously injuried in a spill at Aqueduct earlier this year, plans to resume riding July 13. . . . The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., which overnight became the top harness track in the country when it opened in 1977, has hit hard times. It recently canceled a two-race trotting series so it could save $500,000. . . . Howard Senzell has left Summa Stable to pursue other interests. Steven H. Nesenblatt, Summa's chief executive officer, will continue in that post and will replace Senzell as president.

Prince Bobby B., once a possibility for the Preakness, may now be headed for the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont May 25. Prince Bobby B. ran third in the California Derby and had problems leaving the gate while running third recently at Hollywood Park.

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