"No horse runs with Seattle Slew and wins . . . or even finishes on the board," contends Billy Turner, trainer of the Kentucky Derby victor, adding: "I honestly think For The Moment would have won the Derby if Seattle Saew hadn't been in it (instead of fading from first to eight place)."
Turner has had the uncanny knack of being right about Seattle Slew and his rivals. But the 37-year-old trainer may be guilty of overstatement as concerns Saturday's 102d Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
Cormorant can challenge Seattle Slew early and still finish second or third if unable to win. In fact, these two might from the best exacta combination (8-1 and 1-8) since Jones & Hare, the Interwoven pair.
Making a case for any of the others is difficult, unless the top two choices should engage in a suicidal early speed duel. Cormorant breaks from No. 1, the rail, where the going is faster, or at least it was at the Pimlico meeting until yesterday, when the racing surface appeared to become considerably more uniform although still having an inside bias.
We didn't do anything special to it, except the Good Lord gave us some rain earlier in the week," said Clark Robinson, the track superintendent. "We've been rollin' it and dumpin' water on the track all week to tighten it up. But that's all we've done, and all we plan to do."
No scraping. No serious last-minute adjustments. Which means Seattle Slew, breaking from No. 8, will have a little the worst of the going in the long run to the first turn. Cormorant should win that sprint, but the odds-on favorite will still have seven furlongs left in which to overtake the leader.
I think he will, in wat promises to be an exciting mile and three-six-teenths, even though Cormorant is at attempting to make ridgling history.
Never has a ridgling won an American classic. Cormorant is the second choice to Seattle Slew and has a chance even though his victory, if it happens, apparently will come a little late for official recognition.
"A ridgling," as a veterinarian explained today, "does not exist, technically, in medical terms.A colt or horse is eirther a monorchid or a cryptorchid, depending on whether i or two testicles have descended into the scrotum. Ridgling is a horseman's term for monorchid."
For years the racing industry carried "ridgling horse has one testicle in his scrotum, he's listed as a colt." the veterinarian said. "I think it's been done to eliminate confusion, because it's not unusual to find young males who are monorchids who mature during their 2-year-old season into cryptorchids. The testicles originate near the kidney. It's a long migration into the scrotal sac. Labeling a male a monorchid (or ridgling) too early often turns out to have been premature."
Ordinarly, this is no the space in which to tell readers everything they wanted to know about a race horse's sex but were afraid to ask. Except this is Preakness Week, and the Triple Crown races annually prompt some unusual questions.
Such as, in view of Cormorant's circumstance, what horse was the best ridgling to race so fa?
Answer: One Hitter, an outstanding handicap runner of the early '50s.
And One Hitter has Oreakness connections. His sire, Shut Out, finished fifth in the 1942 Preakness after having won the Derby when a jockey named Eddie Arcaro opted for Devil Diver. Arcaro, ever true blue, stayed with The Diver in the Preakness and was eight to Alsab.
Shut Out was ridden in the Preakness by W.D. Wright, Cormorant has Danny Wright aboard. No matter. All this pre-and post-ridgling history can do little but confuse a handicapper with unimportant information.
The primary concern of this Preakness is Seattle Slew as he strives to continue undefeated. No one should question his gameness, following that harrowing run through the Churchill Downs stretch the first time around. Nor. for the taht matter, should anyone question Cormorant's combativeness. He wants to win, as he showed so clearly in fighting back although losing the Withers by a nose last Saturday.
At 2 to 5 or shorter, however, Slew is far from being a betting bargain. The inclination is to sit back and see how good seven for seven is. His last two victories have not been ower-whelming, although the way he recovered from a poor start and scored in Louisville while short in preparation - is much better than in appears on paper.
Saturday, Seattle Slew should have no excuse. He is ready. If the colt is a great classicist-in-the making he should begin to show us over a classic distance. If he's not, the ridgling can beat him. Just don't look for asterisk to appear behind Cormorant's name in the record books. On the Pimlico program he is "colt." We still have plenty of geldings (castrated males) in American racing, but the ridglings-apparently are a thing of the past.