05/11/2005 11:00PM

Five new shooters aimed at Preakness

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Trainer John Shirreffs and Giacomo at Churchill Downs on Thursday. Giacomo runs next in the Preakness at Pimlico on May 21.

The stakes barn at Pimlico got its first Preakness Stakes resident on Wednesday night when Afleet Alex, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, arrived after a lengthy van ride from Churchill Downs. But more will be coming soon. On Thursday, Galloping Grocer joined the ever-expanding field for the May 21 Preakness, one day after Golden Man joined the lineup.

The result of the Kentucky Derby, in which 50-1 shot Giacomo led a parade of longshots across the line while most of the well-fancied runners faltered, has emboldened five non-Derby runners to head to Pimlico for the 130th Preakness. As of Thursday, 10 horses were definite for the race, and another five were possible, including a trio from trainer Nick Zito's barn.

The three Triple Crown races - the Derby, Preakness, and June 11 Belmont Stakes - all have different rules regarding the maximum number of horses that can run in the race, and how their fields are determined should the race be oversubscribed.

The Preakness rules might be the most convoluted. The field is limited to 14 runners, but there is a three-tiered process to determine the field should more than 14 enter. The top seven are determined by earnings in graded stakes races. The next four are determined by overall earnings, minus what was earned in a restricted race, such as races for statebreds. After those 11 spots are doled out, the final three spots go to horses with the most earnings overall.

There has not been a full field of 14 in the Preakness since 1992, but there have been 10 runners or more in 12 of the last 13 years. If the 15 horses currently under consideration for the race remain intact through entry time on Wednesday, Golden Man would be excluded.

According to Pimlico officials, the top seven in terms of graded stakes earnings are Giacomo ($1,823,900), Afleet Alex ($1,445,000), Wilko ($1,004,515), High Fly ($796,500), Closing Argument ($565,000), High Limit ($510,000), and Sun King ($402,500). The next four, who would get in on earnings minus earnings in restricted races, would be Greeley's Galaxy ($358,480), Scrappy T ($279,120), Noble Causeway ($245,780), and Going Wild ($229,670). The final three spots, based on overall earnings, would go to Galloping Grocer ($222,108), Malibu Moonshine ($190,280), and Hal's Image ($126,820). Golden Man has $59,100 in earnings.

The maiden A.P. Arrow, who had been under consideration for the race, is entered in a maiden race at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Galloping Grocer won the first three starts of his career last year, then was a close second to Rockport Harbor in the Remsen Stakes. But he has lost four straight starts since. Galloping Grocer was taken out of consideration for the Derby after losing by 26 1/4 lengths in the Wood Memorial. He then dipped into a race for New York-breds on April 24 and finished third in the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Series.

"He's training well, and we think it makes sense to try this," said Bob Rosenthal, who, along with Bernice Waldbaum, bred and owns Galloping Grocer. "You got to be in it to win it, Giacomo proved that. [Giacomo] hadn't won since his maiden race. This horse is good enough and worked hard enough to earn a shot in a Triple Crown race."

Trainer Dominick Schettino said Joe Bravo would ride. Bravo was scheduled to work Galloping Grocer on Friday at Belmont Park.

Afleet Alex went right back to work on Thursday morning following his 13-hour van ride from Churchill Downs. According to trainer Tim Ritchey, Afleet Alex jogged a mile and a half and galloped a mile and half, mirroring the aggressive regimen under which Afleet Alex has trained all year.

"He settled in very well," Ritchey said on a national teleconference Thursday. "Everything's great."

Afleet Alex was the third choice in the Derby wagering, but with Bellamy Road and Bandini, the Derby's top two choices, out of the Preakness, the consistent Afleet Alex might very well be the favorite, since Giacomo and Closing Argument were extreme longshots in the Derby.

"You can't take anything away from the first two. They were better than us on the day," Ritchey said. "We're looking forward to trying them again. Hopefully we can turn the tables in the Preakness."

Ritchey sent out Marciano to a seventh-place finish in the 2001 Preakness.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee

Preakness contenders

Horses pointing for the 130th Preakness at Pimlico on May 21. The field will be limited to 14.

HORSETRAINERJOCKEYLAST RACE
Afleet AlexT. RitcheyJ. Rose3rd, Ky. Derby
Closing ArgumentK. McLaughlinC. Velasquez2nd, Ky. Derby
Galloping GrocerD. SchettinoJ. Bravo3rd, Times Square
GiacomoJ. ShirreffsM. Smith1st, Ky. Derby
Golden ManR. Dutrowundecided1st, GP alw
Greeley's GalaxyW. Stuteundecided11th, Ky. Derby
Hal's ImageB. RoseJ. Santos1st, Unbridled
Malibu MoonshineK. LeatherburyS. Hamilton1st, Tesio
Scrappy TR. BailesR. Dominguez1st, Withers
WilkoC. DollaseC. Nakatani6th, Ky. Derby
Possible entrants
Going WildD.W. LukasJ. Valdivia18th, Ky. Derby
High FlyN. ZitoJ. Bailey10th, Ky. Derby
High LimitR. Frankelundecided20th, Ky. Derby
Noble CausewayN. ZitoG. Stevens14th, Ky. Derby
Sun KingN. ZitoE. Prado15th, Ky. Derby