A couple of days after the 113th Kentucky Derby, Demons Begone tried to kick out the back of his stall at Churchill Downs. The stall won, and the 3-year-old colt suffered a bruised foot.
"I think the horse's frustrations were greater than ours," said John Ed Anthony, the Fordyce, Ark., lumberman who bred and owns Demons Begone.
The 2-1 favorite in the Derby, Demons Begone got a nosebleed that couldn't have been bigger if the late Jimmy Durante had run into a door. Jockey Pat Day wisely pulled Demons Begone up after a half-mile, leaving the colt with the unwanted distinction of being the first Derby favorite who didn't finish the race.
Anthony and his trainer, Phil Hauswald, would have liked to have given Demons Begone a chance to redeem himself in the 112th running of the Preakness Stakes this Saturday at Pimlico, but several training days were lost because of the minor foot injury and an irritated lung that is frequently the residue of bleeding that starts internally. Demons Begone is scheduled to resume workouts in a couple of days, however, and Anthony still hopes that he might be ready to run in the Belmont Stakes, the windup of the Triple Crown series, in New York on June 6.
Thorough tests and examinations were unable to determine why Demons Begone, never before a bleeder, suddenly developed the problem in the Derby. Bleeding among race horses is not uncommon--some studies have indicated that it happens to 75% of all runners--but they usual1819877495stress factor is the highest.
Hauswald said Demons Begone's appetite hasn't lessened since the Derby, and the colt has shown no aftereffects since he resumed jogging and galloping this week.
"We should learn with time, of course," Anthony said, "but for the time being we're treating the bleeding as more of an accident than something that could become a chronic thing."
It's questionable whether Hauswald could have Demons Begone ready three weeks from Saturday to run in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. The colt obviously got nothing out of the Derby, which was only his fourth start of the year. It seems that Hauswald would have to find a prep race someplace in order for Demons Begone to be tight enough to run in the Belmont.
Another factor as far as the Belmont is concerned is New York racing rules ban the use of medication, which includes furosemide, the anti-bleeding diuretic that is legal in almost all other states.
"We don't see that as a reason for not running in the Belmont," Anthony said. "We're going to proceed with caution, but also as though his bleeding in Kentucky was a one-time event."
Alysheba, the Derby winner who has been installed as a 7-5 favorite for the Preakness, will be allowed to run with furosemide--the trade name is Lasix--on Saturday, even though he has never bled before.
Because of a throat infection that eventually led to minor surgery, Alysheba raced with Lasix while finishing second in the San Felipe Handicap at Santa Anita on March 22. Alysheba and Masterful Advocate were the only Lasix horses in the Derby.
Two Preakness starters--Avies Copy and Gulch--each had five-furlong workouts Wednesday at Pimlico. Avies Copy was timed in 1:00, and Gulch did only 1:03 1/5, but Gulch's trainer, LeRoy Jolley, said it is not uncommon for his colt to work slowly and then run a good race.
Nine horses are expected to be entered today for the Preakness, with Cryptoclearance, Bet Twice, Lookinforthebigone, Phantom Jet, No More Flowers and Harriman rounding out the cast.
The preliminary line lists Cryptoclearance and Bet Twice as the co-second choices, at 3-1, behind Alysheba. Gulch is 4-1, and the rest of the candidates are 10-1 or higher.
Clarence Scharbauer Jr. has been the ownership spokesman for Alysheba, although the colt races in the name of his wife, Dorothy, and their daughter, Pamela.
Scharbauer (the name is pronounced Scarborough), who has been a quarter-horse owner for a number of years, and his wife own cattle ranches in the Midland, Tex., area.
"My family, though, has been in sheep since 1931," Clarence Scharbauer said. "And I'll tell you something--the sheep make more money per acre than any of these other outfits."
Dorothy Scharbauer's late father, Fred Turner, owned Tomy Lee, who won the Derby 28 years to the day before Alysheba did.
In the last couple of years, the Scharbauers have attended thoroughbred yearling sales and have bought five horses, the most expensive of which was Alysheba, a $500,000 purchase.
"It hasn't been a bad deal," Clarence Scharbauer said. "All five of 'em have won stakes races. The federal government thinks we're all helluva horsemen."
It's not the same as winning the Triple Crown, of course, but Chris McCarron has the chance Saturday to win his third straight Triple Crown race if he and Alysheba take the Preakness.
McCarron had been 0 for 11 in Triple Crown races before he won last year's Belmont with Danzig Connection and the Derby this month with Alysheba.