Servis smiling after Preakness

May 16, 2004|By LARRY YANOS

What cold?

What sore shoulder?

For John Servis, the aches and pains were replaced by wide smiles Saturday at the 129th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course as he watched his talented 3-year-old Smarty Jones destroy a 10-horse field.

Servis and Smarty Jones are, indeed, having fun in the sun, despite a grueling 2004 campaign.

Including Saturday's impressive Preakness victory, the Charles Town, W.Va., native has saddled the son of Elusive Quality five times in 2004 and eight times since Nov. 9, 2003.

"He needs a break, it has been a tough grind," Servis said when discussing Smarty Jones in the stakes barn area Saturday morning at the Pimlico Race Course.


The rest, however, won't be coming soon.

Servis now will point Smarty Jones toward the third leg of the Triple Crown Series on June 9 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. He will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

And as undefeated Smarty Jones continues his march toward thoroughbred racing history, Servis will remain in the national spotlight and get little rest.

The last month, in particular, has been taxing for the son of Joe and Dolores Servis, who live in Charles Town.

As he dined with his wife, his parents, his brother Jason and sisters Laurie and Jodie earlier Saturday afternoon, Servis was nursing a cold and a bruised right shoulder, but still full of optimism.

Despite the wear and tear, Servis has handled the pressure and the spotlight.

"It's been tough," Servis said. "I'm trying to accommodate all the interview requests, but there's just enough hours in the day. I try to be as cooperative as I can while still keeping focus on getting my horse ready for the races."

Everybody and his brother want Servis to attend their functions.

On Friday evening, the Baltimore Orioles had him toss out the first pitch prior to their game against the Anaheim Angels.

It was an eventful evening.

Let's say thoroughbred horse racing, not baseball, remains his livelihood.

The successful trainer of the Preakness Stakes favorite wanted to throw a high, hard one, but his delivery came up short and the baseball actually bounced and hit the home plate umpire.

Servis, however, had an excuse.

He had a close call earlier Friday afternoon while saddling Stephan's Angel prior to the $100,000 The Adena Stallions' Miss Preakness Stakes.

"The filly reared up in the paddock and kicked me in the right shoulder," Servis said. "I'm sore, but I was lucky. It could have been much worse."

Stephan's Angel, ridden by jockey Stewart Elliott, finished second in the six-furlong test.

He's no Smarty Jones.

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