Tony The Preakness Pony
Tony is a 16 yr old OTTB that, since 2003, has the important job of bringing back the winner of the Preakness to the infield prize presentation ceremony. In his racing days, Tonya's Dancer (Tony), earned about $96,000 for his connections. When he injured a rear suspensory ligament and his racing days over he was retrained to become an outrider pony. He clearly loves his job and he wants to run EVERY TIME the gates open. To appease Tony, his rider let's him walk through the gate and sometimes gallop out a short bit. He's so much happier afterwards and parades around like a peacock - telling the world "See I still got it!"
The following are excerpts from an article in the May 2008 Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred written by Maggie Furbay about Clark Cassidy and his horse Tony (The Preakness Pony)
Some of Tony's more unusual experiences typically occur on Preakness Day. "The reason that I use him during the Preakness is that he doesn't shy from a whole lot, and there is an unbelievable amount of activity all around us on that day".
"And he's a very proud horse who always puts out 110 percent" Cassidy continued. "In 2005 someone threw a beer can from the infield out across the turf course. He saw it before I did. It missed us by a good way, but he saw it coming and all he did was lift his head a bit. Most horses would have really freaked out."
"Last year we were bringing Curlin back, somebody at the rail flung a beer in our faces as we came by. It hit Tony right in the face and got me all wet, but at least the winner didn't feel it."
In one of the most dramatic incidents in recent Maryland racing history, on May 8th, 2004, jockey Rick Wilson was seriously injured in a spill coming out of the starting gate. Cassidy and Tony had to place themselves directly in the path of the oncoming field to redirect horses around the stricken rider.
"I went to the quarter pole right at the rail and began waving my arms. The riders really can't hear during the race; you have to put yourself right in front of them and flag them down," he recalled.
After successfully diverting the field, Cassidy went after Wilson's loose mount and caught him at the head of the stretch. All three outriders on duty that day received commendations from the Maryland Jockey Club for their quick actions.
Tony's sire, Gate Dancer was the winner of the 1984 Preakness!