05/20/2005 11:00PM

Closing Argument eyed a long time


BALTIMORE - Dennis Narlinger's quest to buy into Closing Argument started long before the colt finished a close second in the Kentucky Derby. Narlinger, the head of JMJ Racing, has long admired Closing Argument and was delighted to close a deal on Friday that makes him and partner Becky Thomas 50-percent owners of the 3-year-old colt.

"I've followed the horse for close to six months. I own the half-sister," Narlinger said, referring to the 2-year-old filly True Argument, who will be based in New York with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "I saw him run as a 2-year-old and kind of got involved then and kind of got off him."

Narlinger, an electronics manufacturer based in Southern California, has been quite active in acquiring racehorses and stallion prospects the last few years. He owns, either by himself or in partnership, the stallions Officer, Sunday Break, Ten Most Wanted, and Read the Footnotes. Officer, Sunday Break, and Ten Most Wanted stand stud at Gainesway Farm in Lexington. Read the Footnote stands at Sequel Stallions, Thomas's farm in Ocala, Fla.

Narlinger and Thomas also bought an interest in the stakes-winning sprinter Bwana Charlie, who will stand at Sequel Stallions when his racing career is finished. Narlinger said that Closing Argument is likely to stand in Florida, but added "we have not ruled out Kentucky."

In addition to his stallion prospects, Narlinger has about 15 horses in training split among trainers Kelly Breen in New Jersey, Michael Machowsky in Southern California, and McLaughlin in New York.

Narlinger was the owner of Menacing Dennis, a minor stakes winner who finished 10th in the 2002 Preakness.

Eddington gets his Grade 1

For trainer Mark Hennig, it was a matter of when, not if, Eddington was going to win a Grade 1 stakes. On Friday, Eddington finally accomplished that milestone, taking the Pimlico Special by an emphatic 5 1/4 lengths.

Eddington always had the look and demonstrated the ability to be a good horse. But he was immature, and his mind took a while to catch up to his body. Now, he figures to be a major player in the handicap division for the remainder of the year.

"He deserves a lot of respect," Hennig said after grazing Eddington at Pimlico on Saturday morning. "He never runs a bad race. You can go down his past performances and you can't find one of those lines where he didn't show up and try. All you had to do was look at him and have a little bit of knowledge of horses to know that it was going to take time for him to put it all together."

Last year, Eddington ran third in the Preakness, Jim Dandy, and Travers and fourth in the Belmont. He won his first stakes in the Grade 3 Calder Derby on turf last October. This year, he has won the Gulfstream Park Handicap and Pimlico Special and finished third in the Donn and Oaklawn handicaps.

Hennig said that Eddington would most likely be pointed to the $500,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 2. Hennig's long-term goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont on Oct. 29.

"We don't have to leave New York the rest of the year," Hennig said.

Shirreffs stays in bullpen

Pimlico and the Baltimore Orioles have worked together in recent years to have the winning trainer of the Kentucky Derby throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards the night before the Preakness Stakes. John Shirreffs, the trainer of Giacomo, was scheduled to do it Friday night, but because of a daylong rainstorm, Shirreffs assumed the game would be rained out.

It wasn't. The rain let up in time for the game between the Orioles and the Phillies to begin as scheduled at 7:35 p.m., but by then, Shirreffs already was at dinner.

"I just figured they wouldn't be playing," he said Saturday morning.

New product said to reduce injection frequency

Giacomo and Closing Argument, the first two finishers in the Kentucky Derby, and Roses in May, who captured the Dubai World Cup, are using a new veterinary product designed to cut down on the number of times horses need injections to their joints for lubrication.

According to Dr. Steve Allday, who designed the product, Lubrisyn, with biotechnologist Harry Leneau, it is an oral form of hyaluronic acid, which, in theory, "maintains joint integrity longer, so less injections are needed," Allday said.

"It's cost-effective," Allday said. "You can't give a horse a shot every two days. This is a daily feed supplement. Ankle injections can cost from $150 to $200 per joint."

In addition to Shirreffs and Kiaran McLaughlin, who is the trainer of Closing Argument, Todd Pletcher is one of the primary proponents of Lubrisyn. He wears a hat plugging the product that says "Get Sound."

Wilson still has yearning to race

Jockey Rick Wilson still has a hard time coming to the racetrack. Just over a year since a horrific spill at Pimlico in which he incurred severe head and neck injuries, Wilson has had a hard time coming to grips that his riding career is most likely finished.

"I'm not going to say I'm ever going to retire," said Wilson, whose 4,939 career victories rank him 20th on the all-time list. "I'll say it when the time comes."

Wilson was a visitor to Pimlico on Thursday, when he was named Honorary Postmaster by the U.S. Postal Service at the annual Alibi Breakfast. Wilson, 51, is deaf in his right ear and has a plate in his head after undergoing surgery to remove swelling and blood from his brain following the accident.

Wilson said going to the track "depresses me."

"I don't even really like to go out because I want to be out there and I know I can't," he said. "[Trainer] John Salzman said, 'Why don't you come out one morning?' I don't want to do it. I told him if I'm there I want to get on them."

- Despite cold and rainy weather, a crowd of 13,265 turned out for Friday's card, which included five stakes topped by the Pimlico Special. All-sources wagering was more than $10.3 million.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman and Marty McGee