Louis Quatorze

Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, sprints past the finish line with no other horses around. (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / May 18, 1996)

After crossing the finish line, after one streak had ended and another one had been extended, Pat Day fired his left fist into the air. He spread his fingers as wide as he could.Five.

Five fingers, one for each victory in the Preakness.

Yesterday's victory aboard 8-1 Louis Quatorze was Day's third in a row. And that ended another streak -- six straight wins in Triple Crown races by trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

In this, there is great irony. Lukas bumped Day off one of his Preakness horses, Prince of Thieves. That left the Hall of Fame jockey with no date for the Preakness -- until Louis Quatorze's trainer called.

And history was set to be made.

As that story unfolded on the track, others equally tantalizing surely developed throughout the Pimlico grounds. On a day that began drearily but turned sunny and hot by afternoon, 85,122 fans crammed the historic racetrack.

They saw -- well, some of them saw -- Louis Quatorze pull off one of the great reversals of form in Triple Crown history. After finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, with no evident excuse, he ran away with the Preakness, leading every step of the way.

No winner of the Preakness ever had finished worse in the Kentucky Derby.

And Louis Quatorze's winning time of 1 minute, 53 2/5 seconds in the 1 3/16-mile race tied the Preakness record, set in 1985 by Tank's Prospect.

Trained by Nick Zito, who never had won a Preakness in five tries, Louis Quatorze crossed the finish line 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Skip Away. An additional three lengths back in third was Editor's Note.

The betting favorite, Cavonnier, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, finished fourth.

Louis Quatorze paid $19 to win.

After the race, Day expressed no bitterness against Lukas -- the trainer for whom he rode 1994 Preakness winner Tabasco Cat and 1995 Preakness winner Timber Country.

Yesterday, with Louis Quatorze, Day became the first jockey to win three Preaknesses in a row.

Asked whether losing the mount on Prince of Thieves, who finished seventh, fired his desire to win the Preakness, Day said: "If you can't get motivated to participate in a Triple Crown race, you'd better find another occupation."

He said he was disappointed to lose the mount, but not bitter.

"He's a sportsman," Day said of Lukas. "You can't blame the man for doing that. . . . I'm sorry that his streak ended. But I'm happy my streak continues."

Lukas defended the decision, as he had in recent days. He said replacing Day with Jerry Bailey was not a knock on Day, but "a coaching change."

Bailey is perhaps the hottest jockey in the country. But yesterday, he rode a sour horse.