Preakness Stakes-The 138th running of Preakness stakes is carded as race 12 this Saturday at Pimlico Racecourse, approximate scheduled post time is 6:20 PM. The field consists of 9 entrants who are vying for the 2nd Jewel of the Triple Crown with Orb trying to become the 1st Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The weather forecast is projecting picture perfect weather Friday & Saturday with ideal temperatures, partly cloudy, and no precipitation on Preakness day.
For those of you who believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, & the Tooth Fairy I have good news for you, they are all alive and well. Ok, ok, I know this audience does understand that this trio doesn’t physically walk the streets, but I can tell you their symbolism of goodness were very present on May 4th in Louisville, Kentucky when Orb splashed his way past 18 other rivals to decisively with the Derby.
The last 13 years have brought us great disdain as a nation: New York had a terrorist attack, a few domestic shooters took innocent lives, and we found out our national pastime and its heroes were using performance enhancing drugs.
Stevie Wonder could see Barry Bonds was on steroids, just look at his head, it doubled in size…..Mark McGuire’s rookie card showed a svelte man, yet on his homerun race year he looked like a lumberjack.
Horse racing has had the same fate, the most popular and well know trainers have all had numerous medicine violations yet from the casual fan if you asked them to name the top trainers they would likely rattle off Pletcher, Assmussen, & Dutrow which is horse racing’s version of Bonds, McGuire, & Sosa.
I am not picking on these guys, or the numerous other trainers who might fit into that mold, but when you look at an old school trainer who does it the right way, you find Shug McGaughey.
Certainly not a flashy trainer, nor one that gets interviewed, in fact for the casual fan he might not even know who he is, but that has all changed thanks to a three letter word that shows up in Baltimore poised to thunder to New York with two legs of the triple crown in his saddle. For once, the puritan is on page one of the Daily Racing Form, and I love it.
As mentioned before, The Preakness is a party, not a place to see the tote board lit up, it’s a very formful race, some stats to chew on:
The Preakness plays to speed. In the last 26 running’s, 15 of those 26 winners were sitting 1-4 at the first call.
Derby runners have come back to win the Preakness 36 of the last 43 editions.
The race’s history has had 70 favorites win in the 137 running’s, that is a 51% clip.
Only 2 of the last 26 races were won wire to wire (Rachel Alexandra & Louis Quatorze).
Since 1997, 8 of the past 16 Derby winners have doubled up in the Preakness; Furthermore, 12 of the last 16 Derby winners have been no worse than 2nd.
What can we deduce from these stats? If Orb, manages to stay
closer to the pace he will be on his way to a date with destiny on June 8th at his home track.
For conspiracy theorists that feel the rail could doom him or he had an aided Derby trip due to the fast pace and off-track, I guess it’s something to consider.
I know he’ll have to sit a bit closer but with a small field of nine I don’t think it’s that big of a task. Actually, he won from the rail in the Fountain of Youth against 9 rivals so no reason to hit the panic button.
Should you be looking for an upset, I would think Will Take Charge would be a flier, he was moving well with Orb before getting badly checked by Verrazano.
Should you be wagering on Friday, I like a minor upset of #7 Emollient in the Black Eyed Susan, also in the Pimlico Special drew a field of 7 and the favorite Last Gunfighter (#7) just looks like an improving well-meant favorite. Pimlico also has a battle of the sexes jockey challenge as well as a female retired jockey race in coordination with the Susan Komen foundation, should make for 2 great days of racing.
#1 Orb– I will admit I wasn’t thrilled with the rail, but that didn’t stop odds maker Frank Carulli from making him the even money favorite in his final Preakness in Baltimore as he relocates to Vegas. Horse came bouncing out of the Derby and fellow competitor Gary Stevens noted, “He had plenty left of Derby day”. I think he will need to stay closer, but with more speed signed on, have to think even if he gets away near the back he will have a big shot to gun them down. Baltimore’s hometown hero Ray Lewis got his remarkable swan song date with Destiny and carried home the Lombardi, I think Orb will skip town with Woodlawn Vase in his suitcase. The one to beat.
#7 Will Take Charge– One of three entrants for hall of fame trainer Lukas, but I think he has just been running to run in these big races. Go watch the Derby replay, this guy was dog tailing Orb until he hit the wall, he came into that race off an almost 7 week layoff, so he should be fresh and might have needed the Derby anyway to tighten down the screws. Mike Smith picks up the mount which can’t hurt and if he is ignored at the windows, could certainly by the price horse to land in the exotics if not upset the apple cart.
#9 Itsmyluckyday- Will have no excuse this time as he drew an ideal post and picks up the services of John Velazquez, his running style should put him in an ideal stalking spot and if his Derby is a line-out, then you could make a strong case off his prior Florida form. Despite some positives, I still am only lukewarm on him as has already been beaten by Orb on the square and he has yet to prove he can go long outside of Florida. Lookin at Lucky rebounded nicely from his Derby flop to score in the Preakness; this one would be a huge surprise to me.
#5 Mylute – Was only a few jumps from running third in the Derby and does retain Rosie who has Maryland ties which should likely make him overbet. Carulli actually made him 2nd choice on the morning line specifically noting the Rosie factor. While she is a great story and a good rider, this is a classic play against scenario. I do think he is an improving colt who will factor in the superfecta, just worth trying to beat for 2nd.
Betability: Marginal, Orb chased just about everyone away and if not for the Coach entering 3 this would have been a 6 horse field. While it is a horse race and Orb is not unbeatable, he is a very likely winner and not worth playing against, but doubt he will be even money either.
2 unit Exacta wheel #1 with #2, #4, #5, #7, #9
1 unit Trifecta wheel #1 with #2, #4, #5, #7, #9 with ALL
1 unit Superfecta wheel #1 with #2, #4, #5, #7, #9 with #2, #4, #5, #7, #9 with ALL
1 unit Exacta Box saver #1, #2, #7, #9
Graded Analysis with fair value win odds
#1 Orb- 3 to 5, hard to play against, looks like the real deal, rooting with my head & heart.
#7 Will Take Charge- 8 to 1, could be the spoiler, a smoother journey and a move forward off his last makes him a player.
#9 Itsmyluckyday- 10 to 1, has some positives and worth 1 more try, but can’t see him winning this.
#5 Mylute- 10 to 1, Rosie factor will have him overbet, will be around for minor spoils.
#2 Goldencents- 12 to 1, might be the speed of the speed and if the track is playing that way he could go a long way on the lead, another that might deserve a 2nd chance.
#4 Departing- 15 to 1, I am not on his band wagon, beat a lackluster group in Chicago, now jumps in the deep end of the pool, would need a big step forward.
#6 Oxbow- 25 to 1, I expect him to be winging early, but his middle move in the Derby and flattening out left me uninspired.
#8 Govenor Charlie 35 to 1, his barn mate Midnight Lucky got her doors blown off taking the New Mexico path, wasn’t right at Churchill missing valuable time, not the race to play catch up, pass.
#3 Titletown Five- 75 to 1, Since facing winners has flashed and faded every time, connections have been very high on him and rightfully so after forking out $250,000 but he is what he is, only for John the Bomb.
-Professional handicapper at www.equineinvestor.com