05/12/2008 12:00AM

A. P. Arrow heads Pimlico Special

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Five times since the race was restored to its former glory in 1988, the winner of the Pimlico Special has gone on to be Horse of the Year. The prospect of that happening again this year appears remote, surely in part because the purse for the 2008 Pimlico Special is $250,000, only half of what it was in recent years.

In any case, a solid field of nine older horses has been entered for the 41st Pimlico Special, which will anchor a Friday card at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Four other stakes will be run on the 13-race program: the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the $100,000 Miss Preakness, the $75,000 Woodlawn Stakes, and the $75,000 The Very One Stakes.

A. P. Arrow, winner of the Clark Handicap last fall at Churchill Downs, has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds under the handicap conditions of the Pimlico Special, which was not run last year because of Maryland racing's financial duress. A race loses its graded status if it misses more than one year, so saving the Grade 1 ranking long carried by the Pimlico Special was a primary reason the race is being revived, albeit with the lower purse.

A. P. Arrow, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez when breaking from post 4 in the Pimlico Special, which is run at the same 1 3/16-mile distance as Saturday's Preakness. A. P. Arrow will be making his first start since finishing fourth behind Curlin in the March 29 Dubai World Cup.

All nine horses in the lineup are graded winners. In post-position order, with weights and riders, the field is Ryan's for Real, 115, Eric Rodriguez; Gottcha Gold, 118, Chuck Lopez; Student Council, 118, Shaun Bridgmohan; A. P. Arrow; Xchanger, 115, Garrett Gomez; Wanderin Boy, 118, Kent Desormeaux; Grasshopper, 117, Robby Albarado; Sir Whimsey, 117, Edgar Prado; and Temporary Saint, 114, John Velazquez.

The Pimlico Special-Preakness double, a two-day wager, once again is being offered. Last year, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was subbed in for the Pimlico Special.

Post time for the Pimlico Special, the 10th race, is 4:40 p.m. Eastern. First post Friday is 12:15 p.m. Live television coverage of the Friday races will be provided by ESPN2.

In the other Preakness eve stakes:

* Bsharpsonata, the durable filly who had a productive winter in Florida and early spring in Kentucky, is back home in Maryland as one of nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the Black-Eyed Susan (race 12). Bsharpsonata set the pace in the Kentucky Oaks before finishing fifth and will be wheeling back on two weeks' rest in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan.

Other contenders in a competitive field include Maren's Meadow, winner of the Bourbonette at Turfway Park; Sherine, winner of the Comely at Aqueduct; Seattle Smooth, winner of the Bay Meadows Oaks; and Shes All Eltish, winner of the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream.

* Top contenders in the Miss Preakness (race 8), a six-furlong race that drew another well-matched field of eight 3-year-old fillies, include Hadavision, Peisinoe, Palanka City, and Passion.

* Hatta Fort and Prussian, both shipping in off races at Keeneland, look like the favorites in the Woodlawn (race 9), a one-mile turf race that drew nine 3-year-olds.

* The Very One (race 11) drew the biggest field of the day. In all, 17 fillies and mares are entered in the five-furlong turf race, although only as many as 14 can start, assuming the race stays on the grass.