BALTIMORE -- Normally, running up the track in the Kentucky Derby does not earn a horse a trip to the Preakness. But when the Derby winner pays $102.60, he better be ready to take on all comers.
Giacomo, a closer who gathered the roses at 50-1, frightens no one. So the connections of Greeley's Galaxy, 11th in the Derby, and Going Wild, 18th, showed up at Pimlico yesterday morning ready to contest Saturday's second jewel of the Triple Crown, and they weren't the slightest bit embarrassed.
''We've got just as good a shot as anybody else," said Glen Stute, who assists his father, 83-year-old Warren Stute, trainer of Greeley's Galaxy. ''You guys are going to have to learn to cover every horse in the Derby, not just the favorites. You've been right, what, twice? [Only two favorites have won the Derby since 1979.] We leave it up to the horse and the Lord.
''The higher the odds on our horse, the better for me. Horses can't read the toteboard, and I'm a betting man. I don't know how much they'll bet on Giacomo. We'll see. But we'll take a shot at the windows on our horse. There's a lot of quality horses here for the Preakness. We have one of them, and that's why we're here."
Greeley's Galaxy's claim to fame is that he won the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne April 9. Because of a clerical oversight, Greeley's Galaxy was not nominated to the Derby, but his owner, B. Wayne Hughes, who made a fortune in the storage business and is on the Forbes 400 list of the country's richest people, paid a $200,000 supplemental fee to make him eligible.
The oldest trainer to a win a Derby was the late Charlie Whittingham, who was 76 when Sunday Silence scored in 1989. Warren Stute, who is based in California, is quick with a quip and became a celebrity in Louisville. He said he had a good time at the Derby, but he wasn't sure he wanted to attend the Preakness.
''He was pretty tired after the Derby," said Glen Stute. ''He was pretty worn out, but he made it through. He's coming here [tomorrow] with Mr. Hughes. Mr. Hughes talked him into it. My father is real old school. He still talks about a horse he had that ran three times and won three times in 15 days. He runs his horses."
Greeley's Galaxy, who was 21-1 in the Derby under Kent Desormeaux, did have something of an excuse as he broke slowly. He will be ridden by David Flores in the Preakness. Flores is the regular rider for the Stutes in California.
''We were a little disappointed in how he ran the Derby," said Glen Stute. ''He didn't get a real good start. After the break I was concerned, and rightfully so. He was a little far back. We'd like him to be closer to the leader this time.
''Greeley's Galaxy had a fast work [5 furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over a sloppy track at
D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Going Wild, won with his first Preakness starter, Codex, in 1980. Overall, he has started 30 horses in the race and won five times. He has never been shy about starting a horse who appears hopeless, but this time he believes Going Wild, a speed horse owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, who have won the Preakness twice, has a slight chance.
''I'm comfortable," Lukas said. ''I don't feel overmatched here. Don't bet your kids' college money on him, but this race is so unpredictable.
''We have the same motivation as anybody else. Nobody can say that this is the horse to beat or these are the three horses. The superfecta [which paid $864,253.50 in the Derby] is going to pay a lot again. Whoever you want to bet on, I'll book it. You guys have a heck of a job in this race. I'm not picking one horse because I don't want to look silly."
Going Wild, who was ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., at 59-1, in the Derby, will be ridden by Robbie Albarado in the Preakness.
''Going Wild had a good spring and he's a picture of health," said Lukas. ''He's doing so well, we wanted to try the Preakness. He was a victim of the pace in the Derby. When they threw up those fast fractions, with him battling a couple of other horses, I knew it was not going to happen. Something has to change for him to win this race. We can't have the same scenario. But I promise you we'll go over there with a horse who is dead, solid fit.
''I think we're not going to have a Triple Crown winner this year. If you run five or six major 3-year-old races, you'll get five or six different winners, and that goes for all the way through the Haskell and Travers. Giacamo beat the Derby field. Give him the credit. But I don't see the same horse winning over and over again.
''Nobody can be too complacent. Nick Zito [who had five starters run off-the-board in the Derby] is wondering what truck ran over him. I feel sorry for Nick. I like him a lot. But you guys are unmerciful. You have no mercy at all."