THE GREATEST PREAKNESS

The late ABC-TV sports announcer and Thoroughbred-horse owner Jim McKay said the 1989 Preakness was “the best race that I have ever witnessed.”  It certainly was the best and closest Preakness in history.

Although Sunday Silence had beaten favored Easy Goer two weeks before in the Kentucky Derby, by 2 ½ lengths, bettors weren’t convinced and made the Ogden Phipps-owned and Shug McGaughey-trained Easy Goer the favorite in the Preakness rematch.  Sunday Silence was trained by Charlie Whittingham and owned by a partnership of Arthur Hancock III, Ernest Gaillard, and Whittingham.

After 6 furlongs in the Preakness, Easy Goer was a head in front on the rail with Sunday Silence to his outside.  Sunday Silence had run into traffic on the backstretch in the eight-horse field, causing his jockey Pat Valenzuela to check him, but the colt showed his tactical speed and caught up with Pat Day and Easy Goer near the top of the stretch.

Down the stretch the two colts dueled, reminiscent of Affirmed and Alydar in the 1977 Belmont Stakes, with each colt briefly getting the lead.  When they crossed the finish line in tandem, Sunday Silence had prevailed by a nose.  Dave Johnson, calling the race on ABC, said he could not tell who had won but Valenzuela was celebrating by waving his whip.  Pat Day made a claim with the stewards that Sunday Silence had interfered with Easy Goer during the stretch run, but the objection was dismissed.

Easy Goer easily beat Sunday Silence in the Belmont but Sunday Silence bested Easy Goer by a neck in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Sunday Silence was retired and sold to stand at stud in Japan.

On Kentucky Derby day 2018, the 2000 Guineas—the first leg of the English Triple Crown at Newmarket—was won by Saxon Warrior, a Japanese-bred grandson of Sunday Silence.

Copyright © 2018 Horse Racing Business

Click here to relive the 1989 Preakness.

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