Mister Frisky Gets a Chance to Prove Self : Preakness: He will try to bounce back from flop in Derby.
His jockey, Gary Stevens, calls him “the old Mister Frisky.” His trainer, Laz Barrera, refers to him as “the real Mister Frisky.”
By any name, he is the horse who had won all 16 of his races, taking the longest winning streak ever into the Kentucky Derby, and then finished eighth, beaten by 19 1/4 lengths, as the favorite at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.
Mister Frisky became Mister Flunky. But in today’s 115th Preakness at Pimlico, Mister Frisky will not have as much to beat as he did in Louisville, but Unbridled and Summer Squall, the first two finishers in the Derby, are part of the nine-horse field. Unbridled is 7-5, Summer Squall 2-1 and Mister Frisky 3-1 on the morning line.
Summer Squall bled slightly from the nostrils for about four or five minutes after galloping Friday, causing concern about whether he can bounce back from his effort in the Derby.
Summer Squall has had a bleeding problem since late February, when he bled freely during a workout at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He is treated with Lasix, a diuretic given to bleeders and a medication approved in all major racing states except New York.
Neil Howard, Summer Squall’s trainer, said the colt also had bled slightly before the Blue Grass Stakes, a Keeneland race that he won on a muddy track April 14, when Land Rush and Unbridled ran second and third, respectively.
“This should be no problem,” Howard said. “He’s bled the day before a big race before, and he’s still run good. This is just one of the things that I’ve been dealing with.”
Some labeled the Kentucky Derby a two-horse race, which turned into an oversimplification when the first three horses under the wire--Unbridled, Summer Squall and Pleasant Tap--were 10-1, 2-1 and 40-1. The Preakness is being called a three-horse race, a label that should stick. With the losses of Pleasant Tap and Champagneforashley because of injuries Thursday, the rest of the field is a mishmash that includes:
--A horse who hasn’t won a race in more than four months, Land Rush.
--Another that has never won a stake, Kentucky Jazz.
--The sixth-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, Music Prospector.
--Three local entries that wouldn’t be running if a long van ride had been required--Baron de Vaux, Fighting Notion and J.R.'s Horizon.
While Stevens and Barrera have regained their confidence after watching Mister Frisky train on the Pimlico track, Carl Nafzger, the trainer of Unbridled, is not walking around like the man who has the only shot at the Triple Crown.
“We might even be the third betting choice by the time they run the race,” Nafzger said. “One race doesn’t make a horse.”
Barrera, who won the Preakness with Affirmed in 1978 en route to the Triple Crown, sees today’s race setting up differently than the Derby.
“There won’t be as much speed as there was in Kentucky,” Barrera said. “I think my horse can lay second or third. He’s going to show that he’s the real Mister Frisky. You know they say that there are horses for courses, and I think this horse will like this track, not like it was in Kentucky.”
In the Derby, Mister Frisky was a factor for three-quarters of a mile but abruptly dropped out of contention on the far turn. Stevens thought that Mister Frisky wasn’t getting hold of the Churchill Downs surface.
“He had shown the same problem in a workout there,” Stevens said. “They cut up the track two races before the Derby, and that made it the same as it had been for the work. Down the backstretch, the track was getting away from him, and he was using all of his energy before he had to.”
Stevens worked Mister Frisky five furlongs in a sharp :59 2/5 last Sunday. “He seemed like the old Mister Frisky,” he said.
Unbridled was 14 lengths off the pace, ahead of only three horses, in the early part of the Derby. Horses that come from that far out of it seldom win the Preakness, because Pimlico has such sharp turns, and the 1 3/16-mile distance is 110 yards shorter than the Derby. Eddie Gregson, who trained Gato Del Sol, winner of the 1982 Derby, didn’t even run his colt in the Preakness, because he was certain the horse stood little chance.
Thinking about the way the race sets up, Nafzger is not encouraged. “If either Summer Squall (with Pat Day riding) or Mister Frisky loops up there on the front end by themselves, we don’t catch them,” Nafzger said. “If we do, he’s a super horse, because they are good horses. This is a nightmare, it’s not a worry.”
Horse Racing Notes
If Mister Frisky wins the Preakness, his victory will be compared to Snow Chief’s in 1986. Snow Chief also won the Santa Anita Derby, ran 11th in the Kentucky Derby and rebounded to take the Preakness. . . . Nancy Heil, who will saddle Fighting Notion, is only the third woman to train a horse in the Preakness. The others were Judith Zouck, whose Samoyed finished sixth in 1980, and Judy Johnson, whose Sir Beau was seventh in 1968.
The last second-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness was Forward Pass in 1968. Forward Pass eventually became the Derby winner after Dancer’s Image, first across the line, was disqualified for testing positive for an illegal medication. . . . The weather at Pimlico today is expected to be clear, with temperatures in the 80s. . . . Summer Squall is the only Kentucky-bred in the race.
Pimlico will hold a $350,000 race for sprinters, the six-furlong Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, on Aug. 18, the first anniversary of the death of De Francis, 62, who is credited with reviving Maryland racing. Joe De Francis, Frank’s son, now runs the Pimlico and Laurel tracks. . . . The race might attract Housebuster and Safely Kept. Housebuster will start in either the Metropolitan Mile--against Easy Goer--at Belmont Park May 8, or in the Riva Ridge on Belmont Stakes day June 9.
THE PREAKNESS FIELD
PP Horse Jockey 1 Music Prospector Frank Olivares 2 Land Rush Angel Cordero 3 Baron de Vaux Joe Rocco 4 Kentucky Jazz Kent Desormeaux 5 Fighting Notion Alberto Delgado 6 Unbridled Craig Perret 7 Summer Squall Pat Day 8 J.R.'s Horizon Mark Johnston 9 Mister Frisky Gary Stevens
TRAINERS (by post position): 1. Steve Miyadi; 2. Wayne Lukas; 3. Charlie Peoples; 4. Wayne Lukas; 5. Nancy Heil; 6. Carl Nafzger; 7. Neil Howard; 8. Meredith Bailes; 9, Laz Barrera.
OWNERS (by post position): 1. Silky Green Inc.; 2. Overbrook Farm and Wayne Lukas; 3. Bayard Sharp; 4. Bob French; 5. Arlene Kushner; 6. Frances A. Genter Stable; 7. Dogwood Stable; 8. Marvin Champion; 9. Solymar Stud.
WEIGHTS: 126 pounds; DISTANCE: 1 3/16 miles; PURSE: $686,000 if 9 start. First place: $445,900; second place: $137,200; third place: $68,600; fourth place: $34,300. POST TIME: Today, 2:33 p.m. PDT. TELEVISION: Channels 7, 3, 10, 42 (Coverage starts at 1:30 PDT).