Submitted by Hank Goldberg on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Hammerin’ Hank Preakness Preview
Regardless of how impressive he might have been this past Saturday in Louisville, it is on to Baltimore where the Kentucky Derby winner will have to “Justify” his Run for the Roses triumph.
A number of those who challenged Justify in the Kentucky Derby have already been declared out of the Preakness. The connections of third place finisher Audible have already announced that they will await the Belmont Stakes and as of Tuesday, runner up Good Magic is at best 50/50 to compete.
I’m sure a few more Kentucky Derby emigres will sign on and as of now it appears that 6th place finisher Bravazo and 8th place finisher Lone Sailor will try again.
At the same time as they are evaluating if or how the Kentucky derby runners will fare in the Preakness there will also be considerable attention paid to the newcomers who sign on to challenge Justify.
Before I take an early look at those newcomers that are all but definite at this point it is worth looking at how the Derby runners who run back in the Preakness have fared.
(KENTUCKY DERBY RUNNERS HAVE A DEFINITIVE EDGE IN THE PREAKNESS)
There will not be a lot of opposition regarding the expectation for Justify to repeat his Derby win in the Preakness. Yes, some analysts will point to the two week turn-around and float the possibility of a bounce, especially given that it was four weeks between his allowance win and Santa Anita Derby win and another four weeks between the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies. However, the short 2 week break has not been a very negative factor in recent history.
Yes, new shooters have occasionally prevailed in the Preakness. Just last year, Cloud Computing won the Preakness ($28.80) after finishing 3rd in the Wood Memorial and skipping the Derby. Senior Investment, who was the Blue Grass Stakes winner skipped the Kentucky Derby and ran 3rd in the Preakness. Of the 10 three-year olds who did compete, 5 had run in the Derby and they finished second, fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth.
However, since 2000, only three other Preakness winners did not run in the Kentucky Derby before going on to win the Preakness Stakes.
In 2009 Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby and returned to win the Preakness.
In 2006 Bernardini won the Preakness after last racing and winning the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. It should be mentioned that was the year that Barbaro came to his tragic end with his Preakness breakdown.
In 2000 Red Bullet finished second in the Wood Memorial and won the Preakness.
The overall tally, however favors Kentucky Derby experience. In the 18 Preakness Stakes since 2000 there have been:
92 Kentucky Derby returnees. They have taken 14 win, 11 place, 10 show and 12 fourth place spots in the Preakness.
102 Non Kentucky Derby runners. They have taken 4 win, 7 place, 8 show and 6 fourth place spots.
Keep that in mind as we take a brief look at the as of now announced newcomers.
(…SO WHAT DO THIS YEAR’S NON-DERBY RUNNERS BRING TO THE TABLE?)
With a strong run through the stretch April 21 at Laurel, Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes and garnered an automatic bid to the Preakness Stakes a week from this Saturday.
Although the Tesio has not exactly bee a springboard for its winners as they headed postward in the Preakness in recent years…
2016 - Awesome Speed - WON - 9th Preakness
2015 - Bodhisatva - WON - 9th Preakness
2014 - Kid Cruz - WON - 8th Preakness
2011 - Concealed Identity - WON - 10th Preakness
2009 - Tone It Down - 3rd - 12th Preakness
2008 - Ichabod Crane - WON - 3rd Preakness
2007 - Xchanger - WON - 8th Preakness
2005 - Malibu Moonshine - WON - 8th Preakness
…it is worth noting that at this point, other than Derby winner Justify, only one possible challenger, second place finisher Good Magic and two likely returnees, sixth place finisher Bravazo and eight place finisher Lone Sailor will be in the Preakness field. This leaves considerably more opportunity for the Tesio winner to improve upon the performances of his predecessors.
When it comes to the short roster of those that did not run in the Kentucky Derby the top Skip will be Quip.
The son of Distorted Humor, trained by up and coming former Bill Mott assistant Rodolphe Brisset made his 3-year old debut a significant one when he upset the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at 40.20. Quip followed that up with a solid second behind Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby.
The colt, after a brief rest, will now race 5 weeks later, which is the same break he had between the Tampa Bay and Arkansas Derbies.
Sporting Chance, who is trained by hall of famer Wayne Lukas is an interesting prospect. Many will look at his 4th place finish in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby under card and dismiss him. But a horrible start, horrid track conditions and an extremely wide trip certainly compromised his chances.
Those who see that one turn race as a necessary lightener will point out that his horrendous trip and 7 wide rally which actually allowed him to move from 11th to 4th as sneaky good.
The final neophyte as of this point is Steve Asmussen’s Tenfold. The son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin is lightly raced and his fifth place finish in the Arkansas Derby, while not impactful was neither a disgrace. He ran evenly through the lane in what was only the third start of a career which gig not begin until February 9 of this year.
Sons and daughters of Curlin have shown a propensity for development as they race. Few are precocious, but they do improve considerably as their careers continue. It is also worth noting that Asmussen was considering the Kentucky Derby and had Tenfold sent to Churchill after the Arkansas Derby. The conditioner chose patience and based on the colt’s pair of 5 furlong drills over the main track there, Tenfold could be ready for a step forward.
(THINGS JUST GOT A BIT MORE INTERESTING…THREE NEW POSSIBLE STARTERS ADDED TO PENDING PREAKNESS FIELD)
Since I posted the above article a day ago the Preakness Stakes just got much more to my liking as a trio of new possible starters have been added to the discussion.
As of Thursday morning, the connections of Bolt d’Oro, Pony Up and Givemeamint have made statements which clearly place their charges in the “possible” category.
This would be welcome news as it expands the roster from 8 to 11 runners if all now in consideration got to the post at Pimlico a week from Saturday.
Bolt d’Oro of course drew considerable support in the Kentucky Derby. He had finished second behind Justify in the Santa Anita Derby, had worked well in the interim and shipped to Kentucky to go off as the fifth favorite at a final 8.9-1, which was close to his morning line of 8-1.
Bolt d’Oro alertly tracked pace-setter Promises Fulfilled as they went to the first turn. Kept in contact 3-4 wide on the first turn and backstretch wide, came under a ride and in reach as the front runners left the far turn but lost his action as they straightened for home.
If the son of Medaglia D’Oro does go it will be interesting to see if trainer Mick Ruis switches back to Javier Castellano (who as of now does not have a Preakness mount since Audible will await the Belmont Stakes) who rode the colt to his San Felipe win and Santa Anita second before being replaced by Victor Espinoza in the Derby.
Before this morning’s announcement, trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled four Kentucky Derby runners (finished 3rd, 9th, 17th and 19th) did not have a potential Preakness runner. With the updated “possible” inclusion of Pony Up, Pletcher is now involved.
A Calumet Farm standard bearer, the son of Aikenite out of the A.P. Indy mare A.P. Petal is an interesting blend of mile speed on his male side and long range stamina on the female side. While he is still eligible for non-winners of two lifetime he did finish a neck beaten second in the Grade 2 Jeff Ruby Stakes at Turfway and a 2 ½ lengths beaten third in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes behind My Boy Jack and Telekinesis. He rallied strongly in both those tries and in the Lexington was ridden by John Velazquez, who like Castellano was left available for the Preakness when it was decided his Derby mount Vino Rosso would not go in Leg 2.
The third added possibility is Givemeamint, a Dallas Stewart trainee who was seen rallying for third in the Pat day Mile on the Derby under card. While the colt does not seem to have the kind of speed that would match up with the better ones in here it is worth noting that neither did longshots Commanding Curve or Golden Soul, who Stewart sent out to runner up finishes at 37.8-1 and 34.5-1 respectively in the 2014 and 2013 Kentucky Derbies.
I will continue to monitor the day-to-day doings of the Preakness lead-in so make certain you revisit these pages daily.
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