137th Running of the Preakness Stakes is set for Saturday, May 19th at Pimlico Race Course. A field of 11 three year old colts will for the second leg of the triple crown.
Preakness Stakes – Pimlico – 1 3/16 miles – Dirt – $1,000,000
1. Tiger Walk (KY) – Kent Desormeaux – 126 – Ignacio Correas, IV – 30/1
2. Teeth of the Dog (KY) – Joe Bravo – 126 – Michael Matz – 15/1
3. Pretension (NY) – Javier Santiago – 126 – Christopher Grove – 30/1
4. Zetterholm (NY) – Junior Alvarado – 126 – Richard Dutrow, Jr. – 20/1
5. Went the Day Well (NY) – John Velazquez – 126 – Graham Motion – 6/1
6. Creative Cause (KY) – Joel Rosario – 126 – Mike Harrington – 6/1
7. Bodemeister (VA) – Mike Smith – 126 – Bob Baffert – 8/5
8. Daddy Nose Best (KY) – Julien Leparoux – 126 – Steven Asmussen – 12/1
9. I’ll Have Another (KY) – Mario Gutierrez – 126 – Doug O’Neill – 5/2
10. Optimizer (KY) – Corey Nakatani – 126 – D. Wayne Lukas – 30/1
11. Cozzetti (KY) – Jose Lezcano – 126 – Dale Romans – 30/1
TIGER WALK would have benefitted with the additional distance at the Derby. Since he didn’t qualify with enough earnings, he goes to the next best thing. The late running style of this Ignacio Correas trained colt has made it tough for him to catch up at the latter stages of races. He broke his maiden on November 3 at Laurel Park, then came back to win a month later in an Allowance Optional Claiming $50,000. Against the lesser competition he was able to catch up and surpass at the end. However, in his last three races, he was unsuccessful as the competition was tougher. He ran 3rd in the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, then 4th in the Gotham Stakes (G3) and Wood Memorial. The speed was decent at the beginning of the Wood, so really no excuse why he couldn’t catch up. The only reason would be he isn’t as good as Gemologist and Alpha. The Preakness shouldn’t be as powerful as the Derby, so it will be interesting to see if he can improve on his 3rd and 4th place finishes. He’s been training in Pimlico, so he will be more familiar with the track than others.
TEETH OF THE DOG broke his maiden third start out on February 4 at Gulfstream Park. It was two months before running in the Resorts World Casino Wood Memorial where he finished 3rd behind Gemologist and Alpha. Her ran quite well considering his 51-1 odds, longest shot on the board. He finished a closing 3rd place, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Tiger Walk. Trainer Michael Matz had him entered into the Peter Pan Stakes last week, but decided to go the Preakness route instead. My assumption is due to the defection and injuries of other Derby runners, he felt this was a spot where he could surprise. He has yet to finish out of the top three, but this will be his stiffest test to date.
PRETENSION has won two stakes in his last four races; Sweet Envoy Stakes at Aqueduct and Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico. However, his two races in graded company were not stellar. In between those two wins, he finished 5th in the Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct and 9th in the Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne. He likes to sit off the leaders and make his move as they turn for home. There will be some speed in the Preakness, so he will need to stay far enough back where he doesn’t get caught in quick early fractions. He will need his best race to date in order to challenge for the win.
ZETTERHOLM took three tries to break his maiden, but since then has put together a winning streak of three including his latest, the Patsyprospect Stakes at Aqueduct. The Rich Dutrow trained colt has used a strong late rally in each of his three wins. He’s proven that he can run a mile or longer, but this will be a big step in competition. He’s a wild card as we really don’t know much about him. If the pace is strong on the front, without anyone getting out on their own, he might be a play in exotic wagers.
WENT THE DAY WELL ran very well in the Kentucky Derby. He was a fast closing 4th beaten just 3/4 lengths for 3rd (Dullahan) and just 2 1/1 lengths from I’ll Have Another. It was a solid follow up performance from his Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes win six weeks earlier. With an 11 horse field and some speed on the front end, I expect he will be near the back once again. To get up for the win, he will need to make his move a little earlier. It’s not out of the question.
CREATIVE CAUSE comes into the Preakness off his first career race not finishing in the top three. He was 5th beaten three lengths. He was 3rd at the top of the stretch. After watching video of the Derby, you can see he was steadied three times over the course of the race and went 8 wide on the far turn. As we’ve seen over his career, he is a fighter and will always be in the thick of things at the end. With 8 less horses to deal with here, expect him to be a main threat once again.
BODEMEISTER ran one of the most impressive performances the Derby has ever seen, yet this colt still finished second. Everyone, including myself, thought he would be finished after one mile due to his early fractions of 22.32, 45.39 and 1:09.80 for six furlongs. Those look more like six furlongs sprint fractions than 1 1/4 miles. The mere fact that he held on until the final strides is remarkable. Many people feel with the slightly shorter distance, he should be able to get to the front and hang on this time. I’m one who doesn’t believe that will happen. With just 2 weeks turnaround, and the grueling race he ran in the Derby, I believe he spent himself. He is still a serious contender in the Preakness Stakes, but he will not win.
DADDY NOSE BEST is one of the few in this race to win multiple graded stakes. Don’t just look at the 10th place finish in the Derby and pass on this colt. He was making a strong move along the far turn, but was severely steadied as they straightened out down the stretch. As the case with many come from behind horses in the Derby, traffic was the main issue. I believe this colt will be one of the horses to stay a little closer with the smaller field and make a move as they turn for home. Definitely have him in your exotic bets, but his odds might be worth a win bet as well.
I’LL HAVE ANOTHER in my opinion is the horse to beat. Yes, it took until the final stages to catch up and pass Bodemeister in the Derby, but the last time I checked, he did win. I give a lot of credit to Bodemeister for his effort. It was impressive, but I’ll Have Amother made such a strong move and that same move will make him the horse to beat this Saturday. He’s won all three of his starts this year and seems to have improved with each race. Until he is defeated, he is clearly the horse to beat.
OPTIMIZER did not win the Kentucky Derby. It’s not a shocker, but trainer D. Wayne Lukas was looking for his 5th career Kentucky Derby victory. His 11th place finish could have been better if he weren’t steadied a couple of times (far turn and top of the stretch), but again that comes with the Derby and its 20 horse field. He does have a good late kick that “might” serve him well in the Preakness, but for a horse that has just one win in 10 tries, it’s hard to think all of a sudden he will pop up and win.
COZZETTI only has one win, a maiden race back in November at Churchill Downs. He flew to Southern California and ran 8th in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. Then flew to Florida and ran 4th in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Tough field that included Howe Great and Lucky Chappy (IRE). His last two races have certainly been improvements. He finished 3rd in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and 4th in the Arkansas Derby (G1). It seems he is maturing at the right time. Can he improve enough to make a serious threat against the top colts in the country? I’m going to pass.
I’m sticking with I’ll Have Another to capture his 4th win of the year and 2/3 of the triple crown. I like Daddy Nose Best, Creative Cause and Bodemeister to complete the board. I know it’s not exciting and I didn’t go out on a limb picking a long shot. The one horse I feel that can tackle I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister is Daddy Nose Best. Julie Leparoux gets to ride him again with Union Rags bypassing the Preakness Stakes for the Belmont Stakes. Leparoux was on board for his win in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Field and Sunland Derby at Sunland Park.