Desert Wine was among 13 colts entered this morning in Saturday's 108th Preakness Stakes, but trainer Jerry Fanning said he doubted the colt would start unless he was allowed treatment with the antibleeding medication Lasix.
After David Zipf, state veterinarian, ruled Wednesday that the colt was not eligible to be treated with the drug under Maryland's stringent rules, Fanning and several witnesses appealed to the Pimlico stewards today. But the stewards agreed with Zipf.
"We were turned down again," Fanning said. "It seems that Maryland's rules say that a horse must be observed by the naked eye by the state vet before being okayed for Lasix, while the Kentucky and California rules say that the bleeding may be determined by a special scope being inserted into the trachea."
Four of the five members of the Maryland Racing Commission are expected at Pimlico Friday to hear an appeal on the stewards' ruling. However, sources at the track say the commission is expected to uphold the stewards' decision. The horse's owners have indicated they may try to get a court injunction that would allow Desert Wine to be treated with Lasix Saturday. Lasix is a diuretic used on horses who tend to bleed internally after exertion.
Only Kenneth Proctor of the commission is not expected to be at Pimlico Friday to hear the appeal. Commissioners William Fury, Neil McCardell, Ralph Powers and Bob Banning, chairman, have indicated they will be present.
Jockey Chris McCarron told the stewards today that the colt "had felt like a horse who bled" when he ran poorly in last month's Santa Anita Derby. But McCarron conceded, "I couldn't say that I actually saw him bleed." Pimlico General Manager Chick Lang and Racing Secretary Larry Abbundi also testified on Fanning's behalf.
"Since both the owners of the colt are attorneys, I'd guess that they will seek an injunction of some kind," Fanning said. One of those owners, Fred Sahadi, saw a possible grounds for appeal. "The rules only say that a horse must be observed bleeding by the state vet," he said. "It doesn't say how the observation must be made. We are going to confer further on the matter before making a decision."
Desert Wine worked a half-mile in 47 seconds this morning before Sahadi and coowner Fred Agnew paid $2,500 to enter the Preakness. Their colt drew the seventh post position. The favorite, Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo, got No. 11.
Sunny's Halo looked good this morning as he galloped 1 1/2 miles. "He's all power," exercise rider Eric Fried said. Trainer David Cross was still a bit wary, however, because of the ever-changing condition of the colt's skin rash. "It's a touch-and-go thing," Cross said. "But today he's better than he was yesterday evening, and I must say I'm happy."
Cross said there was little sign of the rash today and that he hoped the problem, which caused the colt to lose some hair in the girth area, was under control. "We'll have to take him off the antibiotics because it might sap his strength," Cross added.
Marfa, the probable second choice, who drew post position No. 6, was fitted this morning with a patch over the crack in his hoof that appeared after his workout Wednesday. Blacksmith Steve Priborsky flew here from California to do the job, and trainer Wayne Lukas insisted that the patch wouldn't compromise his colt's chances. "Horses win with patches on their hooves every day," he said.
Deputed Testamony, who will be part of a stable entry with Parfaitement, was entered in the Preakness with no jockey listed, but trainer Bill Boniface said he was trying to obtain the services of Laffit Pincay Jr. If Pincay is not available, Boniface said he would use either Donald Miller or Chris McCarron.