After Orb dominated the Kentucky Derby, many believed he could end the 35-year Triple Crown drought. That hope died when 15-1 shot Oxbow, ridden by Gary Stevens and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, won the Preakness.
(The upset guaranteed less mainstream interest in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, meaning a much smaller crowd (47,562 instead of possibly more than 100,000) and lower television ratings. "I got congratulatory messages from everybody but the New York Racing Association and NBC," Lukas joked.
Before ending a seven-year retirement in January, Stevens, 50, was an NBC racing analyst. Adam Freifeld, vice president of communications for NBC Sports Group, said: "I sent Gary a text congratulating him on the Preakness. He's a friend."
Stevens said he is on "a leave of absence" from NBC. When he returns, maybe he shouldn't expect a raise for a while.
Coach of two species
Like his longtime friends Bob Knight and Bill Parcells, Lukas has produced quite a few assistants who excelled after going out on their own. His most successful student, Todd Pletcher, hosted a reunion Wednesday at his Garden City home with Lukas, Kiaran McLaughlin and Dallas Stewart and former jockey Angel Cordero Jr., a jockey agent.
"I think there's a certain camaraderie among the group of us who worked for Wayne," said Pletcher, who trains Saturday's Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. "Dallas, me, Kiaran, Randy Bradshaw and Mark Hennig became lifelong friends because of that experience with Wayne."
After the day's first five favorites lost, Power Broker ($4.70) got the all-stakes Pick 6 off to a chalky start with a 3 3/4-length win over Micromanage in the 11/16-mile Easy Goer Stakes. Rosie Napravnik rode the Bob Baffert-trained winner, timed in 1:41.55 on a good track . . . Zayat Stables' 4-5 entry finished 1-2 in the next leg, when Fast Bullet and jockey Joel Rosario beat trainer Steve Asmussen's Justin Phillip by 2 1/2 lengths in the Grade II True North Handicap. Fast Bullet ($3.60), also trained by Baffert, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.27 . . . Stephanie's Kitten ($8), ridden by John Velazquez, defeated 11-1 Better Lucky by a half-length in the Grade I Just a Game Stakes for fillies and mares. Stephanie's Kitten is 4-for-4 on non-firm courses after a mile in 1:36.27 on yielding ground . . . Rosario earned his third win of the card with a late surge aboard Forty Tales ($19.80), who beat Declan's Warrior by three-quarters of a length in the Grade II Woody Stephens. Pletcher trains the winner, who ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.47 on a track that had just been upgraded to fast . . . Point of Entry ($3.10) rallied for Velazquez to hold off Optimizer by 1 1/2 lengths in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap on yielding turf. Shug McGaughey trains the winner, who ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.55 . . . The Belmont Stakes victory by Palace Malice ($29.60) created a Pick 6 payoff of $6,345.