Here’s a closer look at the field for the 136th Preakness:
1) Astrology: Highly regarded horse didn’t have much of an excuse to lose the Sunland Derby, but may have needed a race or two before getting into winning form. Responded with a much better effort in the Jerome despite being second. Could run a big one here.
2) Norman Asbjornson: Think the Derby runners have an edge over this one here. Was also beaten by Uncle Mo in the Wood memorial, and he wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders that day.
3) King Congie: This horse should handle the distance and it’s probably a good idea to not blindly toss turf and synthetic runners this time round. A really great story behind this horse also. Hard not to root for him after reading it.
4) Flashpoint: This guy did not improve when going to a route. Wesley Ward, the trainer, has been making a name for himself training good sprinters. Might contribute to setting a fast pace but don’t expect him to cross the finish line first.
5) Shackleford: Ran a great race in the Derby, but perhaps his fourth place finish was a tad flattering given the slow pace. Still, this horse has courage and will fight in the stretch even if things speed up. A win here is not out of the question.
6) Sway Away: The runner faded late in both races going over a mile. Even though the Preakness is shorter than the Derby, I’m wondering if this horse can make the distance. Not sure if this is a live longshot and would rather invest in other horses.
7) Midnight Interlude: Bob Baffert has opted to put his main jockey, Martin Garcia, aboard his horse. Despite a terrible result in the Derby, I like the confidence the trainer has in the horse by entering him here. Could upset at a nice price.
Dance City: A front runner that held on for third in the Arkansas derby. Facing more seasoned horses here, and likely a faster pace.
9) Mucho Macho Man: Well, our pick came in third in the Derby, and that’s not too shabby. He looked willing in the stretch and should have something in the tank for this race.
10) Dialed In: No doubt the 5.5 million bonus for winning the Preakness and Florida derby is motivating trainer and owner to run this horse here. A poor start, slow pace and terrible trip killed his chances at Churchill Downs. I expect him to come back with a better effort, esp if the early pace is fast.
11) Animal Kingdom: The horse did win the Derby, and you can’t take that away from him. Still, I’m skeptical on this horse based on the slow pace of the Derby. If he were to win the Preakness, I’m also not keen on his chances to complete a Triple Crown. From a betting standpoint, there’s value in taking a shot on the other horses.
12) Isin’t He Perfect: A horse who rose from the maiden claiming ranks and failed in the Gotham, Wood, and Jermoe stakes. There’s no shame in trying I guess, but this is a real longshot. Pass
13) Concealed Identity: To be honest, I’m not familiar with this local runner. Has the advantage of having won on the track, but will be facing much tougher competition. Be sure you’re getting a big price for this one if playing him.
14) Mr. Commons: This runner was a fading third in the Santa Anita derby, with the rail all to himself. What’s more troubling are the jockey changes. Mike Smith jumps ship to ride Astrology, and Victor Espinoza gets the boot from Midnight Interlude to ride this horse.
The pace in the Kentucky Derby was plodding, and it’s not unreasonable to think the pace will quicken a few notches on the front end. This bodes well for horses coming off the pace, and not so well for front runners. With that pace scenario, let’s go with:
Let’s play the top choice of #1) Astrology. Bet him to win. The Preakness does not have a history of many longshot winners, but this race seems up for grabs.Tags: Preakness, Triple Crown