Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Saving Face: Preakness Stakes Taking Shape

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 9, 2010

It has been exactly one week since my glorious trip to the Kentucky Derby and since then I have had some time to evaluate and re-evaluate what transpired in the 136th running of the Derby. In my last post I believe I undervalued the significance of Super Saver’s Derby victory and also the quality of the colt. It is only 7 days away from the Preakness Stakes where Super Saver and jockey Calvin Borel will attempt to prove they are able to take a shot at winning the Triple Crown. Up to this time I have been saying that Super Saver had everything go his way in his Derby win and is over-rated to put it nicely, stating that I didn’t think he even had a chance at winning the Triple Crown or Preakness Stakes. Okay, so he did get a muddy track to run on in the Derby and he did have the best Derby jockey in recent history and he was the recipient of a perfect trip. The muddy track was just good luck, the perfect trip and good jockey, that was skill and talent. Calvin Borel is incredible, three Kentucky Derby wins in four years is one of the most sparkling feats in Triple Crown history if you ask me. His skill as a rider is staggering and his ability to keep his cool while competing at the highest level of competition under the utmost public scrutiny is astounding. Then there’s the horse, Super Saver is no slouch and no matter how sore I was (okay am) about the pounding Lookin At Lucky received in the Derby, there is no denying that the winner was very deserving.

Having already won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. 2)by five lengths last November over the Churchill Downs strip, Super Saver obviously loves the track and had proven his worth against the best Kentucky juveniles. Prior to the Kentucky Derby this year Super Saver finished close up in both his 2010 prep races. In his 2010 debut he finished a credible third, a half length behind Odysseus and Schoolyard Dreams in a thrilling rendition of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr.3). Next he finished second behind long-shot winner Line of David in the Arkansas Derby (gr.1) after steadily gaining ground in the stretch, losing by a mere neck. The signs were all there for me to see, he improved in every single start this year, had an impressive win over the Churchill Downs track to his credit and had Derby wizard Calvin Borel in the irons. His Kentucky Derby win makes complete sense.

Now that I have amended my prior poor attitude toward this year’s Derby winner we can move on to the Preakness Stakes and the intriguing field that is beginning to take shape there.

Super Saver leads the pack of confirmed Preakness starters and other familiar names are either joined, or poised to join his on the roster. Derby 7th place finisher Dublin continues down the Triple Crown trail for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Preakness and looks to prove that his continued hype and strong juvenile reputation is still warranted. He finished third in both his two previous Derby preps this year, the last coming a head behind Super Saver in the Arkansas Derby.

Aikenite is confirmed for the Preakness according to trainer Todd Pletcher which means he will most likely have at least two starters in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Kentucky Derby 3rd place finisher Paddy O’Prado is coming back in the Preakness with his connections riding high on confidence. His performance in the Derby was deceivingly good but with so much going on in the stretch run his move was primarily missed. With another effort like the one he produced in the Derby he could make a huge statement in the Preakness.

Caracortado, the gelding who was denied a run at the roses after finishing 4th in the Santa Anita Derby (gr.1), is back and looks like he is ready to run to his best form next Saturday. After winning the first 5 starts of his career Caracortado quickly became the “buzz” horse on the Derby trail earlier this year but after two losing efforts he has fallen far behind the rest of the pack. If the recent winning form of synthetic-to-dirt horses is any indication his chances in the Preakness are looking very good.

Schoolyard Dreams, Hurricane Ike, Jackson Bend, Pleasant Prince, A Little Warm, Turf Melody and Make Music for me are other possible starters for the Preakness with Schoolyard Dreams, Jackson Bend and Hurricane Ike looking the best. The connections of Schoolyard Dreams couldn’t be any more confident coming into the race, stating that they are coming to win.

Lookin At Lucky is the biggest name right now not confirmed for the Preakness Stakes with trainer Bob Baffert unwilling to commit until he is certain it is the best thing for the colt. He is 52% to go according to the latest from Baffert and it seems doubtful he will bypass the race unless something drastic happens to alter his situation. After a horrible trip in the Derby in which the talented son of Smart Strike was unable to do his true running, the 2009 Champion 2-year-old Male will be looking for redemption in the Preakness and also looks to take back the mantle of best 3-year-old colt.


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