05/18/2017 8:26AM

Damascus kept under wraps prior to Preakness win


BALTIMORE – A lot has changed in racing in the half-century since the great Damascus captured the 1967 Preakness on his way to being voted Horse of the Year, including prerace protocols.

After Damascus was inexplicably unsettled prior to finishing third as the 17-10 favorite in the Derby, his notoriously gruff trainer, Frank Whiteley Jr., chose not to go straight to Pimlico. An account on the website spiletta.com reads: “… given a pony named Duffy for company, [Damascus] was shipped to Laurel, where he hid from the press” before being shipped to Pimlico on the morning of the race. He won comfortably under Bill Shoemaker.

Nowadays, Preakness starters must be on the grounds no later than the Wednesday before the race, and the vast majority of trainers are far less reticent with the media.

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