Friday, May 15, 2009

The Preakness (G1)

Preakness S. (G1)
1-3/16 Three-Year-Olds $1,100,000

The 134th running of the Preakness Stakes sets up to be almost as contentious as the Kentucky Derby, and, with the addition of the super filly, Rachel Alexandra, perhaps more interesting.

The connections of Mine That Bird will probably be praying for rain. But even if they get some I don’t think it will help his cause enough to see him in the winner’s circle to collect a second jewel.

In her last race, the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Rachel Alexandra put in a Secretariat like performance winning by more than twenty lengths. Off that race she has been installed as the 8-5 ML favorite. I don’t believe she is that much better than the rest of this field. In fact I don’t think she is the best horse in the field and at 8-5 I will not be wagering on her. I do believe she will be competitive but I don’t think she’ll hit the board. She hasn’t faced anywhere near the level of competition she will face in this race. I like that she has the outside post but it also has its disadvantages. To run forwardly placed, as she likes to be, she will have to expend energy early. Big Drama, Friesan Fire, Papa Clem, Pioneerof the Nile and Take the Points all like to run close to the pace and they will make it difficult for her to get a good trip. In a 1-3/16 race every step can count. The long run to the first turn could help her cause a little. Borel will probably try to find a spot and drop down to the rail. But she will be tested, she will get dirt in her face and the pace will be set by horses that can carry their speed farther than those she has faced. I don’t see her finishing in the top four.

For me Big Drama is the key to the race. Regardless of his pedigree (Montbrook –Riveting Drama by Notebook) I think if he was fit enough he could go gate to wire. However, I think the Pimlico track, that can be tiring and having the best colts in the country pressing his every step will cause him to falter by the wire. This will be just his second race in five months. In his return in the Swale S. (G2) he got a little rubber legged in the stretch and was taken down for bumping This One’s for Phil. I’m sure that race helped get some bottom in him but I don’t think it will be enough. He will be the pace and I think he will run a strong race. But, I see him fading to third inside the 16th pole.

Since I expect a fast pace I think Terrain will finish well. It seems to me all the pieces are in place for him. This is the third race off a layoff. He is well rested having had 35 days since his last race and Jeremy Rose takes the mount adding, perhaps, a little home course advantage. His works are not noteworthy but they are consistent. He shows three maintenance drills and should be the freshest of the quality horses running. I see him coming down the middle of the track late to get up for second.

I think the best horse at the moment, maybe the year, is also the horse that will get the best trip, Musket Man. He breaks from the three hole. From there Coa will be able to get a good stalking position, save ground and wait for the pace to come back to him. The colt appears to have come out of the Derby in great form. He seems to still be getting stronger and improving. As evidence he had 4f bullet move on Tuesday. He is doing so well trainer Derek Ryan has said Musket Man may have put on weight since the Derby. Having run and finished well at Tampa I expect him to like and run well at Pimlico. Questions about his limitations at this distance have already been addressed. However, with his pedigree I think his appearance in the Belmont is still a question so this is his moment to shine. I see a Coa sitting fifth or sixth, two lanes wide, as he guides Musket Man around “Old Hilltop.” He’ll angle out exiting the far turn and finish through the wire to collect the blanket of black-eyed Susans.

The Picks:
Win:---Musket Man--Bags his first Grade I.
Place:-Terrain---------Patience pays off for the connections.
Show:-Big Drama-----If he hadn’t gotten hurt he may have been top of the crop.

1 comment:

Mark Ripple said...

Saratogians think alike:

3--Musket Man
5--Friesan Fire
7--Papa Clem

Great luck today!

Mark Ripple
Handicapping the Wall Street Way