Preakness Stakes: General Quarters OK after minor auto accident

James Mosher

General Quarters arrived with a bang for Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes, and the Norwich, Conn., native who owns him hopes he goes out with one, too.  

A van carrying the 3-year-old gray colt had a minor traffic accident shortly before entering Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course early Wednesday, BloodHorse.com reported. No one, including the Blue Grass Stakes winning horse, was hurt, Thomas McCarthy told the Web site.

“He’s fine,” McCarthy said, according to the site. “I think I’m more upset than he is. There is hardly any damage to the van.”

General Quarters will break from post position 8 in a field of 13 on Saturday. Track handicapper Frank Carulli put the horse’s morning-line odds at 20-to-1.

The colt galloped Wednesday after the accident and the 12-hour ride from Kentucky’s Churchill Downs. It was the first time General Quarters has touched the surface of 139-year-old Pimlico, America’s second-oldest racetrack.

McCarthy has never run a horse at Pimlico in his 50 years in the business. The 75-year-old owner/trainer likes the surface and thinks General Quarters will take to it in this weekend’s second leg of the Triple Crown (NBC, 6:15 p.m. EDT post time).

The colt finished 10th in a field of 19 in the May 2 Kentucky Derby, the first race in the series.

“I can’t believe how nice this track is,” McCarthy said Wednesday, according to ThoroughbredTimes.com. “It’s my type of track — sandy.”

A muddy track hurt General Quarters in the Kentucky Derby. Wet weather is a possibility for the Preakness, with the National Weather Service forecasting possible thunderstorms and showers Thursday through Saturday for the Baltimore area.

“He’s got a big foot,” McCarthy said of his runner, whose foot is a size 7. “When it goes down into that mud, it takes longer for it to come out.”

Mine That Bird won the Derby at 50-to-1 odds thanks to his smaller body and an expert rail-hugging ride by Calvin Borel. Mine That Bird is among the dozen opponents General Quarters is facing in the 13⁄16-mile Preakness.

Others include super filly Rachel Alexandra, whom Borel will ride with Mike Smith picking up the mount on Mine That Bird.

Rachel Alexandra, winner of the May 1 Kentucky Oaks by an eye-popping 201⁄4 lengths under Borel, was made the 8-to-5 morning-line favorite after post positions were drawn Wednesday. Pioneerof the Nile, the Derby runner-up, is the second choice at 5-to-1.

General Quarters “breezed” five furlongs on Monday before departing Churchill. Julien Leparoux, who rode General Quarters in the Derby for the first time, will be his Preakness jockey.

Leparoux came in second in last year’s Preakness aboard Macho Again in his first Preakness mount. The jockey recorded his 1,000th career victory Wednesday, guiding My Little Connor to a win in the third race at Churchill Downs.

Norwich Bulletin