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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM

TABBING A NON-DERBY STARTER TO WIN THE PREAKNESS...IS DEPARTING FROM THE NORM!

If there are no last minute entrants or declarations, it would appear as though the 2013 Preakness Stakes will have a solid sized field of 12 runners.

From that group there are eight runners who ran in the Kentucky derby and there are four newcomers to the Triple Crown festivities.

The eight runners returning from the Derby are:

ORB - WINNER
NORMANDY INVASION - 4TH
MYLUTE - 5TH
OXBOW - 6TH
WILL TAKE CHARGE - 8TH
ITSMYLUCKYDAY - 15TH
GOLDENCENTS - 17TH
VYJACK - 18TH

The four newcomers are:

DEPARTING - Last out Winner of the Grade III Illinois Derby (4/20)
GOVERNOR CHARLIE - Last out Winner of the Grade III Sunland Derby (3/24)
STREET SPICE - Last out 5th place finish in the Grade III Illinois Derby (4/20)
TITLETOWN FIVE - Last out 4th place finish in the Grade III Derby Trial (4/27)

EDITOR’S NOTE: TWO DEFECTIONS FROM PREAKNESS CAST
Since this article was produced there have been two defections from the expected field for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
The connections of Kentucky Derby 4th place finisher and Wood Memorial runner-up NORMANDY INVASION have declared that they will give their colt a short break.

Owner Rick Porter said that there is nothing amiss. "He’s training well and eating well. Everything is fine with the horse. The two weeks is a little quick coming back. He needs to put some weight back on, so we decided to wait." Porter said the Jim Dandy Stakes July 27 at Saratoga Race Course or the Haskell Invitational July 28 at Monmouth, followed by Saratoga’s Travers Stakes Aug. 24, is what is planned at this point.

Also deciding that they might be unprepared for a swim into the deep part of the pool the connections of  STREET SPICE, who was most recently a non-threatening fifth behind DEPARTING in the Illinois Derby, have decided to skip Baltimore and find a less difficult spot for the son of Street Sense.

One week out from the running of the second jewel of this year’s Triple Crown the media, pundits and part time racing public are of course on track with another hopeful holdout for the first Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed in 1978. Once past the ORB watch the conversation gets around to whether or not Normandy Invasion’s rally can be timed better, MYLUTE’S tricky good late rally is a buy sign, if either ITSMYLUCKY DAY or GOLDENCENTS will rediscover their good tactical speed in Baltimore and what to do with the Wayne Lukas three-headed entry of OXBOW, WILL TAKE CHARGE and TITLETOWN FIVE.

In the next few days I’ll get around to an in depth evaluation of the entire Preakness field, but this time around let’s focus on the chances of the four newcomers.
It is safe to say that of the four under consideration, DEPARTING, off his dominant Illinois Derby victory and GOVERNOR CHARLIE following his decisive win in the Sunland Derby is each getting the most coverage.

DEPARTING went into the Grade II Louisiana Derby undefeated from three starts and the Albert Stall trained son of War Front certainly proved worthy with a strong rally for the show spot behind winner REVOLUTIONARY (3rd in the Kentucky Derby) and runner-up MYLUTE (5th in the Kentucky Derby.) He the shipped to Hawthorne three weeks later and moved 6 wide and circled 4 wide as he swallowed up and ran away from his Illinois Derby rivals on way to a 3 ½ length victory.

GOVERNOR CHARLIE was just as impressive at Sunland Park on March 24. The Bob Baffert trained son of Midnight Lute (sire of MYLUTE) was making only his third career start and first after breaking his maiden at Santa Anita 5 weeks earlier and certainly backed up the conditioners’ high regard for the colt by pressing the pace of the 9 furlong Sunland Derby and drawing off by 6 lengths when cued.

Both DEPARTING and GOVERNOR CHARLIE have continued to work forwardly towards next Saturday, particularly the latter, who turned in a pair of blistering breezes at CD on May 2 and May 7.

So the question then becomes; how should they and STREET SPICE and TITLETOWN FIVE be considered when matched up against the Kentucky Derby veterans.

To answer that question a good starting point would be to take a look at past newcomers vs previous Preakness runners who exited the Kentucky Derby.

For purposes of that comparison I began last year and went back to 1991.

First, the raw numbers: for those of you who are as math challenged as I am there have been 22 Preakness’s since 1991. The 22 races have been won 19 times by a three-year old exiting the Kentucky Derby and 3 times by a newcomer.

Those three newcomers to win the Preakness without running in the Derby were:

  • 2009 - RACHEL ALEXANDRA...the filly who of course was just as brilliant in winning the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby.

  • 2006 - BERNARDINI...one of the fastest of his generation, he got a late start to his career and didn’t break his maiden until March and followed that up with a convincing win in the Withers Stakes one week before the Derby.

  • 2000 - RED BULLET...a live runner who ran second to eventual Derby winner FUSAICHI PEGASUS when they met in the Wood Memorial and then after skipping the Derby returned to beat FUSAICHI in the second leg when the Derby winner got pinched badly at the start and had to settle for the place spot. 

First off, as good as DEPARTING and GOVERNOR CHARLIE looked in winning there last races, it is worth noting that of the three to have won in the last twenty two years, RACHEL ALEXANDRA and BERNARDINI were Hall Of Fame class horses while RED BULLET wasn’t far behind.

There is even more evidence that breaking the Kentucky Derby experience standards is rather difficult. Since 1991 there have been eight Kentucky Derby winners who have repeated as Preakness winners.

2012 - I’LL HAVE ANOTHER
2008 - BIG BROWN
2004 - SMARTY JONES
2003 - FUNNY CIDE
2002 - WAR EMBLAM
1999 - CHARISMATIC
1998 - REAL QUIET
1997 - SILVER CHARM

As to the non-winners of the Derby who came back to vindicate themselves in the Preakness there are:

2011 - SHACKLEFORD...4th in Derby
2010 - LOOKIN AT LUCKY...6TH in Derby
2007 - CURLIN...3rd in Derby
2005 - AFLEET ALEX...3RD in Derby
2001 - POINT GIVEN...5th in Derby
1996 - LOUIS QUATORZE...16th in Derby
1995 - TIMBER COUNTRY...3rd in Derby
1994 - TABASCO CAT...6th in Derby
1993 - PRAIRE BAYOU...2nd in Derby
1992 - PINE BLUFF...5th in Derby
1991 - HANSEL...10th in Derby

And as to the Derby winners that did not repeat in the Preakness:

2011 - ANIMAL KINGDOM...2nd in Preakness
2010 - SUPER SAVER...8th in the Preakness
2009 - MINE THAT BIRD...2nd in the Preakness
2007 - STREET SENSE...2nd in the Preakness
2006 - BARBARO...broke down in Preakness
2005 - GIACOMO...3rd in Preakness
2001 - MONARCHOS...6th in Preakness
2000 - FUSAICHI PEGASUS...2nd in Preakness
1996 - GRINDSTONE...injured, did not run in Preakness
1995 - THUNDER GULCH...3rd in Preakness
1994 - GO FOR GIN...2nd in Preakness
1993 - SEA HERO...5th in Preakness
1992 - LIL E. TEE...5th in Preakness
1991 - STRIKE THE GOLD...6th in Preakness

That means that of the 20 Derby winners in the last 22 years (Grindstone didn’t run and Barbaro broke down) 8 repeated in the Preakness and another 5 finished second.

And the value of Kentucky Derby experience goes even deeper.

For a bettor, going from Win through Superfecta, there were 88 spots available in the last 22 Preakness’s. Those 88 spots were taken by 61 horses who exited the Kentucky Derby.

Obviously these are tough standards for any of the four newcomers to buck in 2013. But for those of you who might be looking for a silver lining I’ll leave you with the following.

In addition to the winning performances by RACHEL ALEXANDRA, BERNARDINI and RED BULLT, there have been 8 non-Kentucky derby runners who finished second in the Preakness in the past 22 editions.

2010 - FIRST DUDE...at 23-1
2005 - SCRAPPY T....at 13-1
2004 - ROCK HARD TEN...at 7-1
2003 - MIDWAY ROAD...at 20-1
2002 - MAGIC WEISNER...at 45-1
1995 - OLIVER’S TWIST...at 25.2-1
1993 - CHEROKEE RUN...at 9-1
1992 - ALYDEED...at 5-1

Does any of this information stand alone when it comes to identifying the meaningful Preakness Stakes contenders? Of course not. But what it does tell you is that you should have more than a "feeling" or a "hunch" that a horse that did not run in the Kentucky Derby is a potentially strong Preakness winner.

Until next time!

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