EMOTIONALLY CHARGED PREAKNESS IN STORE

Congie DeVito had osteogenesis imperfecta,
 a brittle-bone disease.

From The Saratogian:

By NICOLE RUSSO

The Preakness Stakes, which will be contested for the 136th time this Saturday, figures to have one of the most emotionally-charged runnings in its history. Several horses in the field will be hoping to honor the memory of late connections with a victory.

West Point Thoroughbreds’ King Congie, a newcomer to the Triple Crown series, is named in honor of one of his late owners. Congie Devito, who worked as the communications director for the successful racing partnership for over a decade, died Feb. 16 of complications from osteogenesis impefecta, also known as brittle bone disease. He was 35.

Although his disease kept Devito confined to a wheelchair and caused him to suffer about 160 fractures over the course of his life, he was a frequent presence at West Point’s races.

King Congie, winner of the Tropical Park Derby on turf earlier this year, was third in the Blue Grass in his most recent start.

Astrology, owned in partnership by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton, is also new to the Triple Crown series after two runner-up efforts in graded events this year.

Jackson holding trophy with Calvin Borel.
Stonestreet was the nom de course of Jess Jackson, who died on April 21 — exactly a month before the Preakness — following a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Jackson, who made his fortune as a winemaker, campaigned three consecutive winners of the Horse of the Year award, with Curlin earning the honor in 2007-08 and Rachel Alexandra taking home the trophy in 2009. Both horses won the Preakness; Astrology will seek to make Stronestreet 3-for-3 in the race.

Dance City was bred by the late Edward P. Evans and races for his estate. Evans died on Dec. 31 after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was 68.

Evans bred more than 100 stakes winners at his Spring Hill Farm in Virginia, including 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. The graded winners who raced in his farm’s yellow and black colors include multiple Grade 1 winner Quality Road. His other major winners included Summer Colony, Malibu Prayer, A Little Warm, Misty Galore, Raging Fever and Gygistar.

Evans leads Quality Road into the winner’s circle.
Dance City is coming off a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.

As Maryland hosts the crown jewel of its racing calendar, the state’s horse community is mourning one of its own. Self-made horsewoman Nancy Alberts died May 10, 16 days after suffering a stroke. She was 65.

Alberts, based at Laurel, became one of just 13 women to saddle a horse in the Preakness when she sent out her homebred Magic Weisner in 2002. The gelding nearly ran down Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, finishing second beaten less than a length. He went on to finish fourth in the Belmont, win the Ohio Derby and place second in the Haskell.