Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Warming up to the Preakness Stakes

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 11, 2011

Sometimes leftovers can taste better than the meal and that’s the way it’s looking with the May 12st Preakness Stakes (gr.1). With the Kentucky Derby limited to 20 starters chosen by their graded stakes earnings some horses are inevitably left out and forced to wait another two weeks for the Preakness Stakes to prove their mettle. When Uncle Mo was scratched from the Derby on Friday morning Sway Away was currently sitting at number #21 on the graded stakes earnings list but was still prevented from running in the Derby because of the starters policy that will not allow another horse to be entered if one has scratched out. Churchill Downs is currently contemplating changing the policy to allow horses to enter after scratches.

This year the Preakness Stakes seems to be attracting a full, strong field of 14 starters with Sway Away being one of them. It took virtually a matter of minutes after Animal Kingdom’s Derby victory for trainer Graham Motion to declare his horse a definite Preakness Starter so the Triple Crown hopes for 2011 at least remains alive. Animal Kingdom’s final time for the Derby was a respectable 2:02.04 but it was his closing half mile in :47 1/5 which is now the second fasted closing half mile in the Derby ever, behind only Secretariat’s closing half, was brilliant. It’s hard to believe he won the Derby with such relative ease with only four prior starts. The question now is can he add the Preakness to his trophy case, and the really big question is can he win the Triple Crown? I think the ability is there but I’m not confident he can get the job done in the Triple. The Preakness seems doable even with the strong field but add the Belmont three weeks later and that’s asking an awful lot of such an inexperienced runner.

Included among the list of possible starters is Derby runner-up, Nehro, who is more likely to pass on the race than he is to run, and Derby third place finisher Mucho Macho Man as well as fourth place finisher Shackleford along with Santiva and Derby favorite Dialed In. Astrology could be headed to the Preakness fort trainer Steve Asmussen after bypassing the Derby.

Other possible Preakness starters include; Prime Cut, Dance City, Flashpoint, King Congie, Mr. Commons, Norman Asbjornson, The Factor, Isn’t He Perfect and Harlan’s Hello.

The most intriguing of these is the possibility of The Factor running. After he flipped his palate and ran seventh as the heavy favorite in the Arkansas Derby the Bob Baffert colt will be making a fairly quick turnaround after surgery to correct his problem. Flashpoint is also an interesting addition. He was last seen finishing fourth in the Florida Derby (gr.1) after winning the Hutcheson Stakes (gr.2) by more than seven lengths.

So as things stand now the Preakness appears to be shaping up as a very competitive race. The Derby is only the beginning not the end, we still have two legs of the Triple Crown left and much more room for surprises.

Uncle Mo it appears will be skipping all the three year old classics as the son of Indian Charlie has been sent to WinStar Farms in Kentucky to diagnose and receive treatment for a yet undiscovered ailment. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the goal is to get him healthy and bring him back to win Champion Three Year Old Male and Horse of the Year.

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2 Responses to “Warming up to the Preakness Stakes”

  1. Kevin Stafford said

    Not expecting to see The Factor or Nehro, both of whom would be dangerous. Mucho looks like the main threat if he gets first jump. Flashpoint should be part of the pace and if Shacklefird couldn’t hold on in that Derby trip, I’m expecting he’ll get passed by AK, DI, and MMM.

    Interesting horse to use underneath will be storming Norman Asbjornson. He should offer great value and has a good chance to hit the board on his best- sort of like another Macho colt (and another g. Motion runner) did in 2008 with Macho Again and Icabad Crane.

    • Hey Kevin, always love to see you stop by!

      I hope The Factor makes it, he was really intriguing! Mucho Macho Man is definitely my top pick for the Preakness right now, I love how he always runs such a competitive race and is still so young….and tall!! Shackleford ran a terrific race in the Derby and will have one less 1/16 to hold onto the lead if that’s where he rates again in the Preakness so I think he’ll be even tougher to beat, although he could be a bit tired from the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby front running efforts!
      Not sure what to make of Animal Kingdom of Dialed In yet, I would like to see their next works first.

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