1989 Preakness Remembered

Courtesy of Becky Johnston

Now on to better memories

May 21, 1989 was the date and the best Preakness many of us have ever seen.  Easy Goer, the darling of the east, the reigning two-year-old champion had won the Swale Stakes, Gotham Stakes and the Wood Memorial with ease on his way to Churchill Downs. 

1989 Wood Memorial Stakes


Sunday Silence, the gun slinging colt from the west, won the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby on his way to Churchill Downs. 

1989 Santa Anita Derby


Sub-plots abounded because Easy Goer's owner Ogden Phipps was a longtime client of Claiborne Farms, the farm that passed over Sunday Silence's co-owner Arthur Hancock as their President after the elder Hancock's death.  Arthur set out on his own founding Stone Farm and he owned Sunday Silence.  Now, the two factions had the best two colts in the country without question and the rivalry was on.

1989 Kentucky Derby


Sunday Silence was green as grass in the stretch, but still did not allow the Phipps' entry to get by him.  The Californians felt secure they had the best horse.  The Easy Goer camp claimed that their colt was hampered by the wet track at Churchill Downs.  They held out hope when the colts met again at Pimlico things would be different. 

The two colts gave us a race that we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams.  Many consider it the race of the century.  I need only look at the framed photo on my desk to remember those tenacious moments.


1989 Preakness Stakes


For the next three weeks, the racing world was somewhat excited about the Triple Crown, but they were much more excited about seeing these two extraordinary colts hooking up again and maybe give us a Belmont much like Alydar and Affirmed did in 1978. 

It was not to be.  The wider turns at Belmont were more conducive to Easy Goer's conformation.  He returned to his New York base and Pat Day made sure he knew what was being asked of him and he provided a devastating kick in the stretch.

Now if we can have another Preakness of that quality, we already have enough drama, let's have a safe one.

What do you think of Rachel Alexandra's chances in the Preakness?

Where were you on Preakness day 1989?



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