Preakness Stakes Preview

As we prepare for the second leg of the Triple Crown, TVF is pleased to welcome back famous internet commenter, Jay V. He continues his superb analysis and breakdown of the Triple Crown with a look at this weekend’s 137th running of Preakness.

I’ve finally stopped celebrating my brilliant Kentucky Derby, handicapping, and have sat down to the business of tackling the 2012 Preakness, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown. If you think I’m jumping off the I’ll Have Another bandwagon, well then you are…well, just read on.

Here’s my look at the field (just 11 horses, smallest since 2008), dividing those that ran in the Kentucky Derby, and those that didn’t:

The New Shooters:

Pretension is the only horse with a win over the track, a minor stakes on Derby Day. However, he was a well-beaten 9th in his race prior in the Illinois Derby and looks hopelessly overmatched here . . . Zetterholm, trained by Richard Dutrow, has won three straight, albeit all against New York state-breds. He appears to simply not be fast enough . . . Dale Romans opted to save Derby 3rd-place finisher Dullahan for the Belmont, but comes to Maryland with Cozzetti, most recently seen finishing 4th in the Arkansas Derby. He finished ten lengths behind Bodemeister in that one, and I see no sign that he’s ready to cut into that deficit here . . . Teeth Of The Dog looks like he could be a pace challenger for Bodemeister, but that’s about it for the Michael Matz trainee . . . Of the new shooters, I am most intrigued by Tiger Walk. It’s not so much that I think he’s much of a threat for the win–his lone wins are over suspect competition at Laurel–as much as I think he’s a threat to hit the board. He’s the only one of this group that has shown a consistent ability to pass horses in the stretch, and that alone makes him a useful entry on the bottom part of the exotics. I don’t think that I am going out on a limb when I say that the winner of the 2012 Preakness will be from among those that raced in the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby Boys:

I described Optimizer as “overmatched” in my Derby preview, and I see no reason that anything is different two weeks later. His entry here reeks of D. Wayne Lukas wanting to be involved in the action, and nothing more . . . Daddy Nose Best was a horse that attracted a long of attention in Louisville, and at 14-1, was actually a shorter price than I’ll Have Another (15-1). That won’t be happening in Baltimore. I wasn’t a big fan of his prospects in Kentucky, and I’m even less of a fan after his dull 10th place finish. In a race in which many had trip excuses, Daddy seemed to actually stay out of trouble. Is a cut below the top 4 . . . Went The Day Well was among those who I hyped two weeks ago, and he ran a strong 4th at 30-1, beaten by only 2 ½ lengths, and passed both Bodemeister and Dullahan shortly after the wire. He made up some 18 lengths in the final ¾ mile, and appears to be among the most talented of his generation. With a good trip, he is certainly capable of winning here, but I fear that, much like the Derby, he will leave himself with too much work to do . . . Creative Cause had to go 8-wide on the far turn in the Derby, and rallied for 3rd, before being passed near the wire to eventually finish 5th. After repeated viewings of the Derby, I am convinced that no horse had a worse trip than he did, and yet he still finished just three lengths from the front. It was his first finish off-the-board, but it may be just as impressive a performance as any he has had. As the Santa Anita Derby demonstrated, not much separates him and I’ll Have Another. He’s a major win candidate . . . Bodemeister is the real wild card in this bunch. Yes, his Derby was impressive, but based on the respective hype and attention being paid he and the winner, you’d think he was the one still alive for the Triple Crown. His strategy here is simple–gun for the lead, and don’t look back. It very nearly worked in the Derby, and there sure seem to be a lot of people who think it will work here. Color me skeptical. I just don’t think he is capable of pairing a similar effort two weeks later, and I also don’t think he’s capable of setting a moderate pace. Even if he makes an easy lead, I still suspect that Mike Smith will push him along at a breakneck pace. If he wins here, he’s worth the hype, but he’ll do it without my support . . . What can I say about I’ll Have Another that I didn’t say two weeks ago? The race unfolded exactly as I predicted, and the horse that benefitted was also the horse I predicted. This time around, I think that he will need to race closer to the lead, but I see absolutely no reason that he’s not capable of doing so, or to any detriment to his chances. He simply looks like the best of his generation, with a perfect running style for this race. No way will you get a price approaching the gift from the gods that was his 15-1 price in the Derby; 3-1 seems more likely. Still, jump on it. Come Saturday night, there will be a blanket of black-eyed susans on his back.

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