Two weeks have passed since I’ll Have Another shocked the thoroughbred racing world, upsetting Kentucky Derby Favorite Bodemeister by a couple of lengths at the wire. Will we be witness to history in the making today, or will there be another upset? Whoever hits the wire first, will get their own place in history, and win the most valuable trophy in sports (or at least a replica), the 140-year old Woodlawn Vase, estimated to be worth well over $1 million.
This week’s eleven horses are far from the Derby field of twenty, but they’ll still have a lot of racing to do despite the 1 3/16th-mile track length of the Triple Crown’s second leg. Post time for the Preakness is scheduled for 6:18pm EDT, with television coverage starting at 2:30pm EDT with the Preakness Stakes Prep on NBC Sports Network, and actual race coverage on NBC starting at 4:30pm EDT. There is a scheduled flyover of an Air Force B-2 Stealth Bomber, and that may be at the beginning of the day’s race card, or just before the Preakness itself. And expect the Naval Academy Glee Club to lead the spectators in the stands in their rendition of “Maryland, My Maryland” just as the horses ready at the starting gate. No rain in the forecast, so the Turf course will be FIRM and the primary race surface will be FAST.
It’s very likely that within the eleven-horse field, only a couple standouts emerge. Hate to say I’m in agreement with many of the handicappers on this one, but here’s my take on today’s race:
Best Bets: This will be the first test to see if Bodemeister can spoil I’ll Have Another’s chances at a Triple Crown chance; I’m thinking this will be an upset. For a more in-depth look at those favorites who are running in the Preakness who contended in the Derby, check my Derby post here.
#7 Bodemeister (Tr: Bob Baffert/Mike Smith aboard) - Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith team up again to act the spoiler for I’ll Have Another. Smith let Bodemeister shift into high gear nearly from the opening of the starting gate, and let him run up front for most of the Derby trip. A little premature, in my opinion, since he ran out of gas in the tank the final sixteenth of a mile and let I’ll Have Another edge him out by a length, placing second.
This son of Empire Maker starts out as the co-favorite today with his rival, posting an Equibase speed rating of 106 in the Kentucky Derby. Over his last four races, he’s averaged a 108.75 Equibase speed rating, and he’s placed first or second in every one of his five outings this year. Purchased at the September Yearling Sale at Keeneland (2010) for $260,000, there were high expectations of him from the start, even though he did not race at all as a two-year old (very uncommon). While not the favorite (though he could be by post time), he’s the likely winner of this race, starting from an advantageous 7-hole post position. Morning Line: 8-5
#9 I’ll Have Another (Tr: Doug F. O’Neill/Mario Gutierrez aboard)- This horse was the upset two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, but the shorter distance of the Preakness might not be in his favor. He came on strong with jockey Mario Gutierrez at the whip to win his first race from the 1/8th Pole in the final stretch, besting other horses who had led the pack most of the race, posting a respectable 108 Equibase speed rating. This colt, purchased at the 2011 OBS (Ocala Breeders and Sales) Spring 2-year-old auction for a mere $35,000, has won all three races he entered this year (though only posting a little more than a 105 speed rating), and was on the board (i.e. finished in the top three) in two out of three last year. He’s got the ability to win, and thus further fuel the Triple Crown whispers, but he may be outclassed at this distance, aside of a non-optimal 9-hole post position. Morning Line: 5-2
Probables: A pair of 6-1 morning line picks, but could be good EXACTA or QUINELLA wagers inclusions.
#5 Went the Day Well (Tr: H. Graham Motion/John Velazquez aboard)- This New York-bred colt had some promise in the Derby, but got bumped along the way after starting 13th, finishing fourth. Before posting a 105 Equibase speed rating in the Derby, he had been victorious in his previous two outings, posting an average 104 rating. If he can get along the rail early, he might have a chance at a decent finish at this distance. Morning Line: 6-1
#6 Creative Cause (Tr: Mike Harrington/Joel Rosario aboard)- Prior to the Kentucky Derby’s 5th place finish, this colt has been on the board in his last eight races (all graded-stakes races). In those last nine races, he’s averaged an Equibase speed rating of 103 (peaking at 110 in March with the San Filipe Stakes). His record and breeding tell me he’s got a shot; look for some longer odds than his morning line come post time; could play well in some combos. Morning Line: 6-1
Long Shots: Aside of the above four picks, every other horse in the eleven-horse field could be considered a long shot.
#2 Teeth of the Dog (Tr: Michael Matz/Joe Bravo aboard)- Matz, former Olympic Equestrian champion and trainer of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, is out to continue the work where Barbaro left off. Not having the luck with Derby entry Union Rags, Teeth of the Dog is now in the lineup, placed third in the Wood Memorial after being driven four wide (109 Equibase rating), passed on the Derby, and was a trainer scratch last week in the Peter Pan. He’s been on the board all the other three races he’s run. Starting from just off the rail in the #2 post position, he could have a good run at the Woodlawn Vase today and put up some good payoffs. Morning Line: 15-1
#8 Daddy Nose Best (Tr: Steve Asmussen/Julien Leparoux aboard)- Asmussen’s mount finished the Derby a lackluster 10th, but has been on the board on nearly every race dating back to June of last year. Veteran jockey Leparoux is back aboard DNB, so perhaps he can get this colt back in victory circle with the laurel of black-eyed susans. DNB was forced in to the rail and caught in traffic during the Derby; the #8-hole starting position for the Preakness will bode significantly better for him and give a lot of room to run. His last two wins prior to the Derby run, he posted a 103 speed rating; perhaps this is another one of those days. Morning Line: 12-1
Any of the other five horses in the Preakness, while all of Triple Crown caliber, are either going to be the true out-of-the-blue longshot, or will just provide traffic through which the winners will coast.
Tech Talk: Even though many horse racing fans bet on their favorite mounts, there may be some out there who don’t exactly know how to bet a race. Some quick and easy tips:
- The amount of the bet- The odds and prospective payoffs one sees on the Tote Board are based on a standard $2 wager (i.e. if the odds are 4-1, a $2 wager on a horse finishing first place will pay $8).
- Type of bet- For those wanting to bet on a horse to win, that’s easy. Just tell the man or lady at the betting window “WIN”. A bet for second place would be to “PLACE”, while a bet for third place is to “SHOW”.
- Number of the horse- Self-explanatory.
Putting those together, one betting on the Morning Line favorite to win, #7 Bodemeister, would say, “$2 to WIN on 7″.
For those who want a more exotic type of wager, you can bet on the top two horses to finish in order (EXACTA), the top three horses to finish in order (TRIFECTA), and the top two horses to finish in either order (QUINELLA). There are also bets like the top four (SUPERFECTA), a bet where you pick the winner and bet two or more horses to finish second (WHEEL), and the ability to bet any number of horses to finish in any order, like a TRIFECTA where you’re betting on every combination of the three horses, called a “BOX”. (some information from SBNation.com)
There are many other possibilities for betting the races, so check your programs or Racing Forms for additional information. One thing to remember: every bet you make, is an individual bet for each combination. In other words, an EXACT wager is two individual bets ($4 for a $2 bet), TRIFECTA is three bets ($6), and a TRIFECTA BOX is six individual bets ($12). The more exotic the bet you make, the more it will cost you to place a bet. Bet smart, and GOOD LUCK!
By The Way: Did you know the term “to get a leg up” (get an advantage on the competition) stems from the equestrian world? It comes from jockeys/riders who would get a hand in mounting their horse. Considering the diminutive size of most jockeys, and the relative size of their horses, one doesn’t exactly find many ladders around the paddock area. (AmericanIdioms.net)
We’ll be ready to see if I’ll Have Another truly wants a place in history, or if Bodemeister spoils the chances for the first Triple Crown champion since 1978. The weather is calling for party cloudy and a high of 84 degrees, so if you’re heading to Pimlico, be sure to take plenty of liquids and sunscreen. Time to get out the Maryland Crab Cakes and Black-Eyed Susans to satisfy your hunger and thirst, and be ready for the Call to the Post. It’ll be a great day for some fast racing. RIDERS UP!!
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