33 Stops Along the Road To The Preakness

January 21, 2012 | Gary Quill

Year in and year out when we flip the calendar from December to January, every thoroughbred becomes a year older, despite their actual birth date. The significant age group in the new year is the 3 year olds as any who have shown promise at age 2 will certainly be pointed to run in races commonly referred to as “Derby Preps” or “The Road To The Roses”. These are the all important graded stakes races as earnings accumulated in these races will determine which 20 3 year olds will have the opportunity to enter the starting gate on the first Saturday in May and run in the Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in thoroughbred horse racings Triple Crown.

Being a native of Baltimore, home of the Preakness, the single largest sporting event held in Charm City each year for the past 137 years, I tend to have a different viewpoint. What would be the ultimate goal of a horse owner, trainer and/or jockey? To win the Kentucky Derby OR win the Triple Crown? I’d put money on the latter being the overwhelming choice, considering this sport hasn’t had a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Therefore (tongue in cheek), the Kentucky Derby is simply the final prep race prior to the Preakness to weed out the Triple Crown pretenders and determine who is truly worthy of running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, in hopes of winning it and move onto the third and final jewel, the Belmont Stakes.

The 2012 version of the “Road To The Preakness”, which has 33 stops began on January 7th at Santa Anita as Out Of Bounds (10-1) rallied in deep stretch to win the $100k Gr. 3 Sham Stakes, edging out pace-setters Secret Circle (3-5) and Longview Drive. (14-1; my selection). Stop #2 is on Saturday (Jan. 21st) in Louisiana for the $175k Gr. 3 LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds. A field of thirteen (13) will travel the 1 mile and 40 yards test which is loaded with early speed. With at least half of the field wanting to be on or near the lead, the fractions should be swift which will set it up nicely for one that has a good closing kick. Two who have displayed such a late kick” are #3 – Ted’s Folly (10-1) and #11 – Share Property (4-1 lukewarm M/L favorite).

I love Ted’s Folly in the LeComte Stakes. Even though not too many OK-bred’s find themselves running in open company graded stakes races, this guy might be special, at least in this race. He’s on a 6 race win streak but more importantly, in his most recent victory going 1 mile, the 2nd (Reckless Jerry) and 3rd (Pee H Dee) place finishers came back to run at Oaklawn Park this past Monday. Pee H Dee won a high-level allowance race while Reckless Jerry was runner-up in the $100k Smart Jones Stakes, just a neck behind the winner Junebugred. In addition, Ted’s Folly final furlong time in his last race is the quickest among those s trend entered in the LeComte who have run a race of 1 mile.

There’s only one factor that concerns me. This week at the Fair Grounds the dirt track has been favoring runners with early speed. If that trend continues through Saturday, will Ted’s Folly be able to overcome the track bias. Check out how the Friday and Saturday races are run and then draw your own conclusions.

The third of 33 stops along the “Road To The Preakness” will be on Sunday January 29th in Hallendale Florida for the Gr. 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Laurel Park’s “Jockey Drafts” promotion has returned. On Saturday, if jockey Erick Rodriguez wins a race, draft beer will be sold at half price from the time that race becomes official until Post Time of the next race. E-Rod has two (2) mounts… in the 3rd race aboard 9-5 M/L favirote #3 – Maple Leaf Racer, and in the 4th race he rides #2 – Lunar Legacy who is the 7-2 M/L co-3rd choice.

Here are my opinions for Laurel Park’s Saturday card, January 21, 2011.
Main Track listed as SLOPPY.

1st race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming – 5½ furlongs
#2 – Flipflopsandscoks (9-2)
#3 – Morning Light (6-1)
#7 – Frogtown (4-1)

2nd race – $5,000 Claiming – 1 mile
#5 – Sinners Repent (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#6 – Palo Duro Canyon (2-1)
#2X – Delaware River (4-1)

3rd race – $5,000 Claiming NW3L – fillies and mares – 5½ furlongs
#4 – Betterbemontbrook (2-1)
#6 – Wakima (6-1)
#3 – Maple Leaf Racer (9-5)

4th race – $5,000 Claiming – 1 1/8 miles
#2 – Lunar Legacy (7-2)
#3 – Hint (5-1)
#6 – Ae Pit (5-2)

5th race – $5,000 Claiming NW3L – fillies and mares – 5½ furlongs
#4 – Congaree Princess (8-5)
#3 – So Best (7-2)
#7 – Abby Kalem (12-1)

6th race – $10,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs
#4 – Heir To the Kingdom (2-1)
#2 – La Reine’s Wager (4-1)
#6 – Haitian Nation (5-2)

7th race – $40,000 Optional Claiming NW1X – 1 mile
#3 – Will N’ Pat (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#4 – Lexington Pearl (9-5)
#9 – Almost A Valentine (10-1)

8th race – $50,000 Optional Claiming for fillies and mares – 6 furlongs
#1 – Magical Feeling (2-1)
#4 – Red’s Round Table (7-5)
#5 – Bold Affair (7-2)

9th race – $5,000 Claiming NW2L – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Gogo Baby (5-2)
#7 – Wire Funds (20-1)
#9 – Awaken Spirit (5-1)