Here's a breakdown of the nine runners in the 138th Preakness Stakes. Though it's the race with the least amount of runnings, it's the middle child because its first running predated the inaugural Kentucky Derby. Time to figure out who to bet or avoid tomorrow in Baltimore. There will be a mild update to the usual good/bad proceedings. Terribad will also be included. Here goes nothing...
(#. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Friday Odds according to drf.com):
1. Orb, Joel Rosario, Shug McGaughey, 4-5 (or 0.80-1)
The good: He won the Derby, so it's Capt. Obvious to say that he's good. He's won his last 5 races and seems to be getting better as the races get longer and he gains more experience. Joel Rosario, in the words of Matt [Gardner], is "printing money" right now. Sounds about right. He more or less willed the Black-Eyed Susan winner home on Friday. If the track bias holds from Friday that favored the outside, even from the rail post, that won't bother him. The 2, 3, 6, 8, and 9 all show at least a decent amount of early speed. And this race has 8 opponents for Orb to try and conquer rather than 18 to beat. The ones to fear from the Derby appear to have skipped this dance. While he won't offer much win value at odds-on, you'd be foolish to toss him entirely out of the top 3-4.
The bad: The last time I remember there being a stand-out like this with no other tough challengers that came back from the Derby was Big Brown, which worked out fine. But Fusaichi Pegasus in the 2000 Preakness was similarly dominant in his Derby run and fell to an outsider in Red Bullet. A similar disappointment could happen if the track bias flips to favor the early speed, especially if someone gets a soft pace a la Shackleford in 2011. He also will be very short at the windows. Not Big Brown (1/5) short, but anything above even money (1/1) would be an overlay.
The terribad: Micro-history (2005-2012) has only seen 2 horses pull the Derby-Preakness double. Only one of them attempted a Triple Crown bid in the Belmont because I'll Have Another got hurt last year...and Big Brown eased in the 2008 Belmont after it looked like he was running against overnight stakes horses. I'm looking ahead here, but more obvious favorites have lost this leg. Street Sense had the misfortune of running with Curlin, Animal Kingdom with Shackleford, and Afleet Alex the misfortune of the most LOLwut Derby ever costing him before he won the last two. Bad luck can happen here. Hopefully not on the Barbaro scale, but he can lose. I don't think he will, though.
2. Goldencents, Kevin Krigger, Doug O'Neill, 7-1
The good: Point Given, Louis Quatorze, Hansel, Little Current, and Damascus are some famous names that come to mind for Preakness winners that ran not all that hot in Louisville. I don't think he's on par with any of these horses just yet, but Lookin At Lucky had a bad Derby run, too. He later won the Preakness and 3-year-old champion in 2010. He's not in the driver's seat for that award like Lookin At Lucky was, but a win here could put him there. And it would give Rick Pitino his first Triple Crown win after two distant seconds with A P Valentine behind the aforementioned Point Given in 2001. He might offer better value than in the Derby.
The bad: He seems a one-way traffic type where he needs to be close to the pace. And he's the inside speed this go-around. With Titletown Five in here, if he clears, he may be going in the 1:09-1:10 range for the 3/4 mile time once again. While the Derby was his first true clunker, it's difficult to see him making up a ton of ground on Orb. This year, he has followed up his good efforts with bad ones. Though he's due for the good one this time around, he's not in Orb's class just yet, despite the top Beyer number saying so.
The terribad: I mentioned this in the Derby note, but his sire Into Mischief was mostly a long sprinter/miler type in his races, though he ran well at 1 1/16 miles once at 2. Were this the 1970s/1980s Pimlico that favored inside speed, I'd like him. But it isn't like that most years anymore. I'll likely pass, even as an alum of U of L. Want him to win other than Orb and that whole Triple Crown thing.
3. Titletown Five, Julien Leparoux, D. Wayne Lukas, 23-1
The good: He's in the race. And he's connections rich with Leparoux and Lukas in tow. If anyone goes wire-to-wire, it will be him as he should set the pace. Derby Trial horses have a good history of finding placings in Triple Crown races, as Macho Again was second in 2008 to Big Brown in here and Creme Fraiche won the 1985 Belmont.
The bad: He's not alone in wanting the lead early on in here. And his races at 1 mile and up are a 4th and a 9th. The Louisiana Derby has had hot form of late, though him winning would be a big stretch. His early odds are 23-1. In a full field, he'd probably be about 40-1. He deserves to be about 70-1 in here, as I think Paul Hornung just wants a Triple Crown starter. Lukas already has two others with better chances in here.
The terribad: I mentioned it once, but he's really taking the dumb money early. 23-1 on a speed horse that hasn't won beyond 7 furlongs being asked to run 9.5 furlongs is a monumental stretch. While Leparoux on a speed horse will be interesting to see since he usually rides stone closers in Triple Crown races, I struggle to see him getting a piece of the race.
4. Departing, Brian Hernandez Jr., Al Stall Jr., 11-1
The good: His owner (Dilschneider) and trainer managed to be the lone vanquishers of Zenyatta training Blame to win the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, so the connections can win in big moments. Also, Hernandez won last year's Classic on Fort Larned, so they're not foreign to the spotlight. His Illinois Derby was a solid win and he also comes out of the Louisiana Derby, which produced the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th place Kentucky Derby finishers. The likeliest of the new shooters to fire on Preakness Day on class.
The bad: Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini, Red Bullet, Deputed Testamony, Aloma's Ruler, Codex and Bee Bee Bee are the only new guys (& gal) to win from 1972 onward in here. Rachel won the Oaks the day before the Derby, Aloma's Ruler ran with less rest than the Derby horses in 1982, Codex's owner skipped the Derby in 1980, Bernardini won after Barbaro's injury in 2006, and the others won on sloppy tracks. So it's not like it's a common occurrence to rest for this and do well.
The terribad: His running style is similar to Orb's. Orb does what he does, but does it better. He makes sense underneath horses and is a logical top 3 pick should Orb falter. That being said, he's not bad, but like most Al Stall horses, he'll probably improve with age in his older 4/5 year old seasons. Blame did, after all, and he beat Zenyatta. No one else can say that--that could be Departing one day.
5. Mylute, Rosie Napravnik, Tom Amoss, 7-1
The good: Some of the recent Derby non-placed horses in the past ran close to the top spots before winning in Baltimore. Shackleford, Lookin At Lucky, and Point Given come to mind. He didn't get the best of trips in the Derby, per se, but it also wasn't the worst, as the wide trips tended to fare well on Derby Day. Again, he's a Louisiana Derby horse. Two of those three look live, and he's one of them.
The bad: He's the early second choice in here. Second betting choices tend to take late money in big races, which means you might have to take 4-1 on him to beat Orb. He was 15-1 to beat him last time and I didn't lean his way then. I probably won't for the top spot now. Along those lines, he'll take casual money since he has a female jockey. No female has won the Preakness--Colonial Affair's 1993 Belmont win with Julie Krone is the lone Triple Crown win for a female jockey. Not that that matters, as Rosie is one of the best jockeys around of either sex and used to ride here locally. That being said, he'll be too short for trying to beat Orb.
The terribad: Again, low value for what he is being asked to do in here. Also, Midnight Lute is a champion sprinter, not a Classic distance horse. Not the breeding you're looking for for a 9.5 furlong race.
6. Oxbow, Gary Stevens, D. Wayne Lukas, 14-1
The good: You couldn't ask for more experience than Gary Stevens (1997, 2001) and D. Wayne Lukas (1980, 1985, 1994, 1995, 1999) for Preakness Day. His Derby race was criminally underrated, as he was the lone speed horse to hang around in the end of the race. It reminded me a lot of Flower Alley's 2005 Derby trip, which he parlayed into a Travers win that year. Flower Alley sired I'll Have Another. Oxbow's Daddy was the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner that beat Derby-Preakness-Dubai World Cup winner Silver Charm and Skip Away, among others, in his year. It could happen.
The bad: He doesn't like to sit off the pace. Which could be problematic with horses like Goldencents and Titletown Five that don't want to save energy early. He also comes from the terribad Arkansas Derby, which looked even worse after the Kentucky Derby.
The terribad: I don't like that he has to make up almost 10 lengths on Orb in here, when everyone will get cleaner trips today. I do have him in a $1 Pimlico Special/Preakness double, though.
7. Will Take Charge, Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas, 12-1
The good: He needed his last race in the Derby, as he rested from the Rebel Stakes from mid-March before running in Louisville two weeks ago. If the pace is fast as expected, he can take advantage of that. To me, he's the win bet in here. He's also in my $1 Pimlico Special/Preakness double I have live.
The bad: He has to make up ground on Orb as well. Also, he's only ran 2 good races in a row once. That's not a big problem here, as his race wasn't terrific last out. It wasn't bad, though, especially not seeing a start in 7 weeks. However, that's not Lukas' thing, as he's 3/50 second start off of 45-180 day layoffs.
The terribad: Like Departing, he does what Orb does, but Orb does it better than he does--at least so far. I like his ceiling more than the other challengers, though. I wouldn't mind seeing Jon Court win a big race and Lukas back on top again if it's not Orb tomorrow.
8. Govenor Charlie, Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert, 11-1
The good: Lookin At Lucky had Garcia and Baffert in tow in 2010, and that worked out well in here. He seems to be improving at the right time. Running 6 furlong workouts also suggests he's fit to fire in here. Baffert is 27% coming off of 1-2 month layoffs, which is pretty good. These guys are also 27% as a team since 2012. Somewhat related to his name, another misspelling called Deputed Testamony won this race 30 years ago. Could it happen again?
The bad: He looks like the speed, even if the outside of the speed. Seasoning and breeding could be an issue here. Sunland's track was a highway in the Spring meet, as he went 1:47 2/5 for the 1 1/8. That puts him in the 1:54 ballpark for the Preakness. I don't think he'll do that tomorrow. Especially with the track being dead today, as the Pimlico Special needed 1:58+ to win it.
The terribad: He seems the wiseguy special that likes to disappoint as a new guy running (hi, Kentucky Bear). I also worry that he could get burned by the early pace. He would be worth a flyer at 15-1 or above, but I think he'll go off 10-1 or less tomorrow. That's too short for my liking. If you like him, he's talented enough to do it. But I don't think he has it in him his fourth start.
9. Itsmyluckyday, John Velazquez, Eddie Plesa Jr., 9-1
The good: He ran close to Orb in Florida two starts back before his Derby flop. He's also the most seasoned, as he'll be running for the 12th time in his career tomorrow. No offense to Angel Serpa, Manuel Cruz, Paco Lopez, and Elvis Trujillo--but John Velazquez is an improvement in the saddle. The Preakness is his career missing jewel of the Triple Crown. Would be nice to see him win to avenge the Animal Kingdom loss in 2011.
The bad: Like on Derby Day, he'll take about twice the play I'd like to see on him to justify a win bet. His two worst races occurred when he ships for a big race (Delta Jackpot, Kentucky Derby). I fear more of the same tomorrow.
The terribad: Have you seen his shipping record? He only really beat the horses that eased themselves out of the race on Derby Day. Can he improve 22 lengths from his last start, and will that be enough in here? Kudos to those on his side, but I'm siding against him tomorrow for the most part.