Steve Cauthen, the apprentice, made his first appearance in Maryland yesterday but it wa an old pro down from New York, Angel Cordero, who turned the Pimlico program into a Preakness promotion.
Cauthen rode in seven races, completing a $35.80 daily double by guiding Gala Gusto ($11 straight) to a 1 1/2-length victory in the second event. After that, as the 17-year-old rider said later, "the close ones didnt come out right."
A crowd of 12,053 - some 3,000 more than management ordinarily would expect - saw Cauthen lose the third race by a head, the fourth by 1 1/2 lengths, the seventh by a half-length and the ninth by a half-length. His other two months finished out of the money.
"I still enjoyed myself," Cauthen said. "Everyone treated me great and, besides, as it turned out, there was no racing in New York today (because of a mutuel clerks' strike)." Aqueduct's program for Saturday also has been canceled, so Cauthen was not sure of his immediate plans.
Cordero knows where he's riding Saturday. He'll be aboard Hey Hey J.P. in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico after having guided Small Raja to a come-from-behind success over Northern Sea in today's $54,502 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Small Raja overtook the 1-to-2-favorite by three-quarters of a length, returning $10.80 straight after completing the 1 1/4 miles of fast track in 1:42 4/5.
Herb Hinojosa was named Thursday to ride Hey Hey J.P. in the Preakness. Trainer Johnny Campo announced this morning that Robert Gilbert would replace Hinojose. Before the racing program was over, Cordero had supplanted Gilbert on the longshot.
ommy Kelly, the trainer of Small Raja, said Cordero's riding the 3-year-old filly here today was surprising.
"I hadn't intended to run," Kelley said. "Steve Cauthen was allset to ride her in the Acorn Stakes in New York. That was to be her next start. I even planned to scratch Small Raja if Sweet Alliance hadn't turned out well."