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Sunday, May 19, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hansel Rolls A Seven In Preakness Stakes -- Strike The Gold Fades To Sixth-Place Finish

Times News Services

BALTIMORE - Now trainer Frank Brothers has a story he will enjoy trying to explain - how his horse blew away the field in the Preakness Stakes.

After flopping stunningly in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago when he went off as the betting favorite but finished 10th, Hansel came back with a vengeance yesterday, charging past seven horses for a seven-length victory in the 116th Preakness at Pimlico.

This time it was betting favorite Strike the Gold, the Kentucky Derby winner, who flopped. He finished sixth and gave support to critics who claimed he wasn't strong enough to win two races in the Triple Crown series.

Strike the Gold's defeat also means there will be no Triple Crown winner for the 13th straight year.

Second place went to speedster Corporate Report, trained by D. Wayne Lukas. Mane Minister, the surprise third-place finisher in the Derby, repeated that performance, nudging past Olympio by three-quarters of a length.

Olympio skipped the Derby and had emerged as the second favorite for the Preakness. Best Pal, the Derby runner-up, was fifth. They went off as the second and third favorites.

Hansel's winning time of 1:54 was not close to a record but not as slow as critics of this 3-year-old crop had predicted. Hansel, who went off at odds of 9-1, paid $20.20. He earned $432,770 for owner Joe Albritton, who lives in nearby Washington, D.C.

"I got to give my horse credit. He just absolutely blew them away," said jubilant winning jockey Jerry Bailey, who added he knew it was all over with a quarter-mile left in the 1 3/16-mile race.

"I knew it was history. A horse would have to run the last quarter awful fast to catch my horse," he said of Hansel's emphatic victory.

Brothers still is at a loss to explain Hansel's disappointing Derby performance. He didn't even decide until Tuesday to enter him at the Preakness, shipping him by truck 14 hours overnight.

"Two weeks ago in the Derby, I was about as low as a trainer can get. Now I'm about as high as a trainer can get," said Brothers, winning his first classic. "He redeemed himself. I'm not amazed. He's a good horse. He's proved himself. For whatever reason, he didn't do well in the Derby. Now he ran like Hansel is supposed to run."

Hansel, winning for the fourth time in six starts this year and for the sixth in 11 career races, earned $432,772 and boosted his bankroll to $1,244,106.

Now, comes the tough decision whether to go on the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, June 8 in New York. Hansel uses the diuretic Lasix to control pulmonary bleeding, but the drug is illegal in New York. That problem caused last year's Preakness winner, Summer Squall, to miss the Belmont Stakes.

Now the explanations for failure fall on Nick Zito, trainer of Strike the Gold. He had boasted last week how critics were underestimating Strike the Gold's quality and predicted he would emerge as one of the great 3-year-olds.

Instead, he turned into an also-ran.

A crowd of 87,245, the second-highest in Preakness history, turned out on a breezy day.

PREAKNESS FACTS ;

FINISHERS;

The order of finish yesterday:; ; NO. HORSE; ;

1. Hansel;

2. Corporate Report;

3. Mane Minister;

4. Olympio;

5. Best Pal;

6. Strike the Gold;

7. Whadjathink;

8. Honor Grades; ; FAST TIMES;

Fastest times recorded by winners over the 1 3/16-mile course of the Preakness:; ; HORSE YEAR TIME; ; Tank's Prospect 1985 1:53 2/5; Gate Dancer 1984 1:53 3/5; Summer Squall 1990 1:53 3/5; Sunday Silence 1989 1:53 4/5; Canonero II 1971 1:54; Hansel 1991 1:54; ; PREAKNESS WINNERS;

Winners since 1977:; ; 1991 Hansel; 1990 Summer Squall; 1989 Sunday Silence; 1988 Risen Star; 1987 Alysheba; 1986 Snow Chief; 1985 Tank's Prospect; 1984 Gate Dancer; 1983 Deputed Testamony; 1982 Aloma's Ruler; 1981 Pleasant Colony; 1980 Codex; 1979 Spectacular Bid; 1978 Affirmed; 1977 Seattle Slew;

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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