Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. gave D. Wayne Lukas his first Preakness victory 16 years ago. Saturday, trainer Cordero will try to snap Lukas' streak of six wins in Triple Crown races.
Cordero admits his chances of winning with Feather Box are slim.Asked how he felt about Feather Box, winner of one of three starts this year, being made a 50-1 shot in the early line, Cordero laughed and said, "I'm happy, I thought he was going to be 100-1."
He also said, "You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket."
Cavonnier, second by a nose in the Kentucky Derby, is the best bet for beating Lukas, who will saddle three Derby starters in the Preakness. Missing from Team Lukas, however, will be Derby winner Grindstone, retired to stud last week because of a bone chip in the right front knee.
Cavonnier, the Santa Anita Derby winner, was the 9-5 early choice, while Lukas' Prince of Thieves, third in the Derby, was next at 7-2 and his Editor's Note, sixth in the Derby, was the co-third choice with Skip Away, 12th in the Derby.
Lukas's other starter, Victory Speech, 10th in the Derby, was a longshot. The other Derby starters to contest the 1 3-16-mile Preakness at Pimlico are Skip Away, 12th; In Contention, 15th, and Louis Quatorze, 16th.
Joining Feather Box in making their debuts in Triple Crown competition will be Tour's Big Red, Mixed Count, Allied Forces, and Secreto de Estado.
Mixed Count was to van in from his base at nearby Laurel the morning of the race.
Team Lukas flew in from Louisville on Thursday, while Skip Away vanned in from Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
"We got killed," trainer Sonny Hine said of Skip Away's disappointing performance in the Derby on the heels of the colt's sensational victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. "But I feel good about him. I feel happy about the way he's progressing."
Asked about his chances of extending his Triple Crown winning streak, Lukas said, "The hill gets a little steeper."
The trainer, however, said he feels good about his chances. He seems particularly high on Prince of Thieves.
Lukas got his first of four Preakness victories with Codex, his first starter in a Triple Crown race, in 1980. He also got his first taste of Triple Crown controversy.
Cordero, riding Codex, forced Genuine Risk, the Kentucky Derby-winning filly extremely wide turning for home and Codex went on to beat her by 43/4 lengths.
"Everybody sent me letter," said the 52-year-old Cordero, who was involved in his share of controversies in a 32-year Hall of Fame riding career. "They said they were going to kill me, that I should go back home, that I was bad for racing. Most of the ladies were very upset."
The mail kept coming for about a year and a half, and Cordero stopped reading it.
Lukas recalls showing up at Pimlico the morning after the race and being handed a batch of letters and telegrams at the stable gate.
"I had never won a classic and I thought, `This is great.' "
"You mugged the filly," read one telegram. Others were nastier.
Finishing third on Colonel Moran in the 1980 Preakness was Jorge Velasquez, who has ridden against Cordero thousands of times, including six times in the Preakness. Cordero also won on Gate Dancer in 1984. Velasquez won on Pleasant Colony in 1981.