Before we focus on the Preakness, I want to take my bow for correctly forecasting morning-line third choice Payton d’Oro as the Black-eyed Susan winner. The half-sister to Rachel Alexandra led wire to wire to take first prize. So maybe I do know something after all, even though I said Mine That Bird would “not be a factor” in the Derby. Hopefully my Preakness picks are more like the Susans than the Derby.
|1||Big Drama||J. Velazquez||D. Fawkes||10-1|
|2||Mine That Bird||M. Smith||B. Woolley Jr.||9-2|
|3||Musket Man||E. Coa||D. Ryan||10-1|
|4||Luv Gov||J. Theriot||D.W. Lukas||50-1|
|5||Friesan Fire||G. Saez||L. Jones||10-1|
|6||Terrain||J. Rose||A. Stall Jr.||30-1|
|7||Papa Clem||R. Bejarano||G. Stute||8-1|
|8||General Quarters||J. Leparoux||T. McCarthy||20-1|
|9||Pioneerof the Nile||G. Gomez||B. Baffert||5-1|
|10||Flying Private||A. Garcia||D.W. Lukas||50-1|
|11||Take the Points||E. Prado||T. Pletcher||30-1|
|12||Tone It Down||K. Desormeaux||W. Komlo||50-1|
|13||Rachel Alexandra||C. Borel||S. Asmussen||9-5|
Mine That Bird-You cannot dismiss his amazing stretch run in the Derby, but you do have to wonder if that late running style is conducive to Pimlico. What he did two weeks ago, he had never done before. Does he have it in him to do it again. If so, we may have a great Belmont day; otherwise look for him to finish in the middle of the pack.
Rachel Alexandra- She has four consecutive Beyer speed figures over 100 coming in to the Preakness. Her performance in the Kentucky Oaks probably would have won the Derby the next day. The only flaw is she hasn’t really been tested lately. She has had it her way all year. If she gets an easy trip…Look Out; but if she gets jostled and finds the running tough no one knows how she’ll react.
Pioneer of the Nile- His performance at the Derby was a good one. Any other day he probably wins it, but that is the problem with Nile. He has always looked good, but rarely looks great even when he wins. Tomorrow would be a great time for him to come with his best stuff.
Papa Clem- He was right there in the second pack across the finish line in the Derby. His style and pedigree are more conducive to the slightly shorter Preakness. He probably will have a shot when they head for home. The question is whether he’ll have enough to take advantage, unlike in the Derby.
Musket Man- He had a horrendous trip in the Derby, but was still the one making the biggest move in the second pack. If you add one more stride to the race he nips PioneeroftheNile for second. This is a horse that likes to win; and it says something that jockey Eibar Coa picked him over the hyped Big Drama for this race.
Friesan Fire- Will be a great gamblers pick since his odds will be inflated after his 18th place finish in the Derby. He is a far better horse than that, but will some of the minor scrapes and bruises he sustained be healed enough in just two weeks. You can’t discount his chances, because if he is ready he should be able to navigate this smaller field much better.
Big Drama- He has amazing speed and will get to the lead in the Preakness. The question is what will he do then. His breeding suggests a sprinter and he has never race beyond a mile and a sixteenth. After having only one three year old prep, he will be fresh. At one mile he will have open track ahead of him, then we will see if he can make the distance.
General Quarters- He has been on a big race then bounce schedule all year. If he keeps that up, he’s due for a big run tomorrow. His best races have come on the synthetic, so maybe the real stuff just isn’t his cup of tea. He will stalk from the second pack and may have the right stuff to hit the board.
Take the Points-Todd Pletcher wouldn’t bring him here if he didn’t think there was a chance. He will probably try to match the early run of Big Drama and hold on. He ran well in finishing a close fourth in the Santa Anita. He could surprise, and the Pimlico fans love his jockey Edgar Prado.
Terrain- He’s a late runner, which is probably not where this race will be won. He has run well in big races like the Bluegrass and Louisiana Derby, but has always seemed one notch behind the winners in class.
Luv Guv-He has tactical speed and will be positioned just behind the frontrunners. His problem is he has never faced competition remotely like what he will see in Baltimore. I have to wish the best to his owner MaryLou Whitney because she brought an end to Mine That Bird’s connections idea of adding a horse to keep Rachel Alexandra out. Whitney said she would scratch Luv Guv if they did that to keep Alexandra in. Way to look out for the sport MaryLou.
Flying Private- He finished last in the Derby. Don’t look for things to be much different this time around.
Tone It Down- I saw him finish third in an underwhelming Tesio stakes at Pimlico on Derby day. If he didn’t have what it takes against that field, I’m not sure what this half-brother to Rachel Alexandra can do in the Preakness. It is fun to have one local horse in the field though, so congrats to M and D stables and trainer William Komlo.
This race has me flummoxed. I can see it going about five different ways. In that case, I am going to go with how I’ll be cheering in the infield. I will be an unabashed Rachel Alexandra supporter. Not for money, but because I think she could end up being something very special. I hope she does it, so here are my selections.
MY PICKS for the 134th PREAKNESS STAKES
WIN Rachel Alexandra
PLACE Musket Man
4. General Quarters
5. Friesan Fire
7. Mine That Bird
8. Papa Clem
9. Tone It Down
10. Big Drama
11. Luv Guv
12. Flying Private
13. Take the Points
Well, there’s my take. Everybody have fun on Saturday and enjoy the race.