Updated on 09/15/2011 12:15PM

Point Given rebounds to win Preakness


BALTIMORE - The real Point Given showed up Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, erasing his mystifying Kentucky Derby performance by rolling to victory in the 126th Preakness Stakes before an announced record crowd of 104,454.

Point Given, who raced wide throughout but was not hurried for the first half of the race, overhauled his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate, Congaree, at the top of the stretch, then held off a late run from A P Valentine to win by 2 1/4 lengths. A P Valentine got up in the final strides to beat Congaree by a neck for second.

Monarchos, the Kentucky Derby winner, lacked spark at any point. He flattened out after making a mild, midrace move and finished sixth. As a result, the Triple Crown will go unclaimed for another year. It has not been won since Affirmed in 1978.

Point Given was the beaten favorite in the Derby. Monarchos was 10-1 that day. They were close in the betting all afternoon here. Point Given went off the slight favorite. He had $1,332,065 bet to win on him, compared with $1,328,225 for Monarchos. Point Given paid $6.60 to win.

Point Given covered 1 3/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:55.51. The track was on the dull side all afternoon, in stark contrast to the lightning-fast surface at Churchill Downs for the Derby.

Monarchos benefited from a hot pace in the Derby, but the fractions were more realistic in the Preakness. Richly Blended, as expected, went for the lead and got clear early while rolling through fractions of 23.84 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.32 for a half-mile, and 1:11.86 for six furlongs.

Congaree, who bobbled and veered to his left at the start, was keen to go on early and tracked Richly Blended. As the field raced down the backstretch, Jerry Bailey had a stern hold on Congaree's reins, but Congaree still went up to engage Richly Blended. Marciano was racing three paths wide, and then Point Given loomed menacingly four paths wide.

Point Given had been allowed to come away from the gate at his own pace by jockey Gary Stevens, who had used Point Given in the opening quarter-mile of the Derby. Stevens kept him wide, and was not asking Point Given to use his run early. Down the backstretch, Point Given began to advance, his mammoth strides gobbling up ground. Stevens still had not asked the colt for his best, but now he was on top of the leaders.

Monarchos, meanwhile, had trailed the field early, and now was being asked to advance by his jockey, Jorge Chavez. He moved up a bit to get into the second flight of horses, but ran out of steam before the field reached the midway point on the far turn.

Richly Blended faded midway on the turn, as Congaree and Point Given pulled away from the field. They raced as a team until three-sixteenths of a mile remained, at which point Point Given moved to the lead. He raced awkwardly, on his left lead foot, and appeared to be lugging in. But Stevens kept Point Given from interfering with Congaree, and Point Given drew away from his rivals.

A P Valentine closed strongly for second. Dollar Bill, who wound up fourth, also finished powerfully after being forced to check at both the five-eighths pole and three-eighths pole.

Point Given, a 3-year-old colt by Thunder Gulch out of the Turkoman mare Turko's Turn, was bred and is owned by The Thoroughbred Corporation, a group headed by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia. Point Given has now won six times in 10 starts, with three seconds. His only poor performance came in his biggest race, when he finished fifth in the Derby.

Baffert has now won the Preakness three times. His previous victories were with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. Both those colts won the Derby, too. This Preakness might not have had the historical significance of the previous wins, but, after Point Given's Derby flop, it had to be as satisfying.