Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 1:35 PM
Volume 16 - Number 3
DERBY RETURNEES VS PREAKNESS NEW SHOOTERS...IS THERE AN EDGE?
As of Tuesday afternoon with the announcement that Gun Runner will not race in the second leg of the Triple Crown and that Dazzling Gem, whose connections were flirting with the Preakness Stakes will instead have his date a little earlier in the day as he will enter the Sir Barton Stakes on the undercard.
At this point the first two Kentucky Derby finishers, the undefeated Nyquist, who dominated at Louisville is the presumptive winner at Pimlico on his way to challenging for the Triple Crown, is expected to once again not only trump Derby runner up Exaggerator, but also withstand any speculated improvement from Lani and Creator, the other two derby ex-patriots who are still in consideration at this point.
With the aforementioned defection of Gun Runner and Dazzling Gem the field appears to be shaping up at twelve participants. That means there would be eight challengers that are new shooters on the Triple Crown trail.
Given that breakdown it is imperative to assess just how well new shooters have done vs those horses that run back in the Preakness after competing in the Kentucky Derby.
In 2006, Barbaro exited the Kentucky Derby and went off at 1-2 in the Preakness as a very well-regarded candidate to end the at-that-point 28 year Triple Crown draught. Unfortunately, Barbaro suffered his tragic breakdown in the race and new shooter Bernardini was the winner.
Since that victory by Bernardini there has only been one other Preakness victory by a runner not exiting the Kentucky Derby and that was the brilliant filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009. So let's take a look (from 2007 forward) at the results of Kentucky Derby runners compared to those Preakness runners who last raced in another contest.
Below is a year by year list of both the number of Kentucky Derby and new shooters followed by first through fourth place Preakness finishes.
5 Derby Returnees...1st and 4th
Derby Winner American Pharoah repeated
3 New Shooters...2nd and 3rd
3 Derby Returnees...1st, 2nd and 4th
Derby Winner California Chrome repeated
7 New Shooters...3rd
6 Derby Returnees...1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Derby Winner Orb finished fourth behind Derby 6th place finisher and Preakness Winner Oxbow
3 New Shooters...none hit board
6 Derby Returnees...1st, 2nd and 3rd
Derby Winner I'll have Another repeated
5 New Shooters...4th
5 Derby Returnees...1st, 2nd, and 4th
Derby Winner Animal Kingdom finished second behind Derby fourth place finisher and Preakness Winner Shackleford
9 New Shooters...4th
5 Derby Returnees...1st and 3rd
Derby Winner Super Saver finished off the board behing Derby 6th place finisher and Preakness Winner Lookin At Lucky
7 New Shooters...2nd and 4th
7 Derby Returnees...2nd, 3rd and 4th
Derby Winner Mine That Bird finished second behind New Shooter and Preakness Winner Rachel Alexandra
6 New Shooters...1st
2 Derby Returnees...1st
Derby Winner Big Brown repeated
10 New Shooters...2nd, 3rd and 4th
4 Derby Returnees...1st, 2nd and 3rd
Derby Winner Street Sense finished second behind Derby third place finisher and Preakness Winner Curlin
5 New Shooters...4th
When you add it up it totals:
Derby Returnees - 43 Starters...8-6-5-5
New Shooters - 55 Starters...1-3-3-4
Of course every race demands its own dynamic when it comes to handicapping and the subsequent outcome. However, measuring the past success of those with Kentucky Derby experience must be weighted significantly. Is Nyquist unbeatable? No horse is unbeatable...but if you want to go against him who is it that has shown enough to signify he can. If you believe Exaggerator will finally conquer the colt that has beaten him 5 times, what is the new evidence? And if you believe Exaggerator runs the same race in Baltimore that he did in Louisville and completes what will be the consensus exacta, is that tempered by last year when second place Derby finisher Firing Line was off the board and third place Derby fisher Dortmund ran fourth in the Preakness.
None of these overviews or past results determine what will occur in the 2016 Preakness. Nonetheless, they are difficult standards to ignore.
AFTER CASHING THE DERBY TRIFECTA FOR THE THIRD TIME IN FOUR YEARS Jim Hurley Moves On To The Preakness
LAST YEAR HE HAD AMERICAN PHAROAH On Top & Longshot TALE OF VERVE Second For The $248.80 Exacta
This Year He Plans On Cashing The Winner Through Superfecta, And All The Preakness Day Full card Winning
Volume 16 - Number 4
SOME PREAKNESS ASSUMPTIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT
As we prepare for Leg Two of the Triple Crown this Saturday the general consensus seems to be NYQUIST and EXAGGERATOR one-two again.
What will also feed into the mix is some old saws that apply.
One is that the tighter turns and shorter distance make it more difficult for closers. Is that the case?
A second is that fresh horses and/or new shooters that appear to be peaking at the right time often impact the Preakness Stakes, if not in the win column at least in supporting role finishes. How reliable is that?
Recently there is another developing belief because of the success of the Southern California horses in the Derby a horse like Uncle Lino, based in Southern California and entering the Triple Crown challenge after winning the California Chrome Stakes at Santa Anita in his last prep. Does this have a chance of playing out?
Finally, is the one that believes the "home field-locally based runner" might have a bit of an edge. Do they?
Of course there are many "angles" such as these but for today let's take a look at those four.
TIGHTER TURNS AND SHORTER DISTANCE FAVOR SPEED AND MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR CLOSERS?
In recent years closers have not WON the Preakness. Of course this could be due to the superior talent of the likes of American Pharoah, California Chrome and I'll Have Another, each of whom possessed terrific cruising speed.
However, a careful look at the top three finishers in the last 5 Preakness's (and this is generally representative of the last dozen or so years, closers have been competitive and in fact there is a consistent pattern that plays well to speed, stalkers and closers as we can see by looking at the last 5 editions.
American Pharoah...Went wire-to-wire.
Tale Of Verve...Last of 8 at first two calls, 5th at the 7/16th marker and rallied into second.
Divining Rod...Stalked in 4th for the first three calls, moved to second in the stretch and held third after getting passed by the place runner.
California Chrome...Pressed early pace and easily drew clear.
Ride On Curlin...was 9th of 10 early, 8th at the 7/16th pole and rallied strongly for second.
Social Inclusion...Stalked in 5th at first two calls (just 2-3 lengths back,) moved to third at 7/16ths marker and held that position.
Itsmyluckyday...Stalked in 4th, moved to 3rd at 7/16ths marker and continued on to get second.
Mylute...Was 9th of 9 first two calls, still 8th at 7/16th marker and closed well for the show.
I'll Have Another...Stalked in 4th early, just 3 lengths off the pace set by Bodemeister and Creative Cause, was third at 7/16ths marker and rallied to get up by a half-length.
Bodemeister...Duplicated his Derby run by setting the pace throughout and getting caught in the final jumps for a second straight place finish.
Creative Cause...Pressed Bodemeister throughout the first mile but backed up to be a well-beaten (8 lengths) third.
Shackleford...Second at every call pressing the pace throughout before taking the lead in the stretch and holding off the furious rush of...
Animal Kingdom...was in 13th of 14 the first two calls, still 12th at the 7/16ths marker and missed by a half-length.
Astrology...Stalked in 4th and 3rd throughout and settled for 3rd at the finish.
I mentioned above there was a pattern to the Preakness results. That pattern should dissuade you of weighing any one style too heavily. In fact, based on the Trifecta being a combination of a speed horse, a stalker and a deep closer, one should consider Pimlico and the Preakness to be conducive to playing fair.
HOW IMPACTFUL ARE FRESH HORSES AND NEW SHOOTERS?
I addressed this in yesterday's edition of PREAKNESS PREVIEW. However, with perhaps two of the three Derby returnees, Nyquist and Exaggerator to be the favorite and second favorite the historic vulnerability of fresh horses and/or new shooters is even more pronounced.
DOES UNCLE LINO ADD MORE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUPREMECY TO THE RACE?
We do not need to spend much time validating the idea that the Derby has been more or less controlled by Southern California based 3-year olds in recent years. However, what bout late arriving runners that are based there, skip the derby, have their last prep at Santa Anita and run in the Preakness.
First of all, there have not been many. Second of all, they have been far from productive. Below are those that have run in the Preakness since 2007.
2011...Mr. Commons - 8th in Preakness
2010...Caracortado - 7th in Preakness
2009...Take The Points...13th in Preakness
2008...Yankee Bravo...10th in Preakness
2007...King Of The Roxy...6th in the Preakness
The last Southern California runner to skip the Derby, run his final prep at Santa Anita and hit the board in the Preakness was Rock Hard Ten in 2004.
This is not a large sample, but with so few trainers attempting it and the results bearing little the suggestion would be that if you like Uncle Lino's chances the reasons should be more than that he is Southern California based.
HAS HOME TRACK/LOCAL RUNNER ANGLE BEEN PRODUCTIVE?
There will of course be a few handicappers that consider a horse that is locally based and proven in a stakes race such as the Federico Tesio, which has been for the seminal local prep for the Preakness for many years.
This angle has not been productive for quite some time, although this writer does remember the 1995 Preakness when he stated unequivocally that should local runner Oliver's Twist win the Preakness I would jump off the roof of the grandstand. Only a bad trip kept me off the roof as Oliver's twist finished a half-length back in second to favored Timber Country.
Since 2002, when Magic Weisner finished second in the Federico Tesio and then returned 4 weeks later to finish second in the Preakness at 46-1.
Here are the Preakness results of the last out at Pimlico local runners.
2015 - Bodhisattva - Won Tesio...8th in Preakness
2014 - Kid Cruz - Won Tesio...8th in Preakness
2013 - No runners.
2012 - Pretension - Won Canonero II Stakes...11th in Preakness
2011 - Concealed Identity - Won Tesio...10th in Preakness
2010 - No runners.
2009 - Tone It Down - Third in Tesio...12th in Preakness
2008 - Icabad Crane - Won Tesio...3rd in Preakness (not to take anything away from Icabad Crane but that year only Preakness winner Big Brown and Gayego returned from the Derby.)
2007 - Xchanger - Won Tesio...8th in Preakness
2006 - No Runners
2005 - Malibu Moonshine - Won Tesio...10th in Preakness
2004 - Water Cannon - Won Tesio...8th in Preakness
2003 - Cherokee Boy - Won Tesio...8th in Preakness.
This year the local representative is another Tesio winner (although virtue of DQ) Awesome Speed. He enters with 4 wins in his last 5 races, but if you want to back him the history above suggests there should be considerably more reason than home track edge.
On Wednesday evening they will draw the post positions for the Preakness so check back Friday morning for our preview.