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Bailes Returns To Preakness With Mint Slewlep

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The last time trainer Robbie Bailes brought a horse to the Preakness, Scrappy T put up a valiant fight in 2005 before finishing second behind Afleet Alex.

Any similarity between Scrappy T and Mint Slewlep, whom Bailes will saddle in Saturday's Triple Crown race, is purely coincidental.

``It's a new chapter,'' Bailes said Monday. ``I know what to expect now. But it's a totally different horse, and different people working with me.''

Scrappy T entered the Preakness after winning the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct. Mint Slewlep is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Withers Stakes.

``With Scrappy, I really thought we had the horse to win the race right then. With (Mint Slewlep), I'm not really sure,'' Bailes said. ``It's a little bit different scenario.''

Mint Slewlep will be racing for the first time at Pimlico in the Preakness, but the Kentucky-bred colt has won both of his races in Maryland _ a maiden-breaker last fall and an allowance last month, both at Laurel Park.

Although Bailes didn't think Mint Slewlep was ready to compete in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, he believes the timing is right for the horse in the Preakness.

``We weren't really set up for the Derby. We got a little bit of a late start with him this year. At the beginning of the year, this was kind of what we were pointing toward,'' Bailes said. ``The only thing we were worried about was having enough money to get in. Things seemed to work out, and hopefully things will work out for all the good reasons come (Saturday).''

The competition will be stiff. The top three finishers in the Derby will be back for the Preakness, an ideal scenario for racing enthusiasts but not exactly great news for Bailes, who wishes Street Sense, Hard Spun or Curlin decided that one Triple Crown race was quite enough.

``It wouldn't have hurt my feelings if a couple would have stayed home,'' he said. ``They're three very nice horses.''

If nothing else, Mint Slewep will have the advantage of seeing the track at Pimlico before the other horses in the race. Mint Slewlep was the only Preakness starter in the stakes barn Monday; the rest of the field starts arriving on Wednesday.

Baile considered keeping Mint Slewlep at Bowie until the day of the race. He ultimately decided it would be best to let his horse get acquainted with a track and its surroundings.

``I really wanted him to get work over the track. You got the tent, the seats, everything is new to him,'' Bailes said. ``It's what's right for the horse. I believe this is the best way to get his best effort Saturday.''

Scrappy T was in position to win at the Preakness before being overtaken by Afleet Alex after both horses clicked heels. At the time, second place was disappointing to Bailes. On Saturday, he would be probably be delighted with it.

``After getting here the first time, it makes you want to get there a little bit more,'' he said. ``It's a tough road to get here. Hopefully, we're here for a purpose and not just to run. Actually, I believe I have a horse that can compete against this bunch.''

The Preakness field currently stands at eight horses after trainer Nick Zito confirmed Monday that he would enter C P West in the race. C P West hasn't won since his maiden debut at Saratoga last August, but was runnerup twice in two races as a 3-year-old.

In addition, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday that he is considering entering Circular Quay, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
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