May 7, 2010

The Middle Jewel Takes Shape

Eight days from race day, and the Preakness field still has questions, but it is much closer to taking shape than it was a couple of days ago. At this time, here are the 14 sophomores I see as most likely to line up in the Preakness starting gate, along with my rating of each:

1 Lookin At Lucky 3-1 Isn’t the 2009 two-year-old champion is due for a fair chance. A grinder who has run well in every start, had no chance in the Derby after the first quarter mile. Needs only that elusive good trip to wear down the Derby winner down the lane, and prove he is still a champion.

2 Super Saver 5-2 The Derby winner has the tactical advantage of being near or on the lead. He has been well handled this year and appears to be in the midst of peaking at the perfect time. He will be the one to pass if you want to win the Preakness, and will have every chance to head to New York as a Triple Crown contender.

3 Caracortado 15-1 California bred gelding was up against slow paces and a rough trip in his last two. The talented colt has been freshened and is doing well for his assault on Baltimore. May get a perfect middle of the pack trip to strike as they straighten out, and if he appreciates a return to the dirt, could be the one to pull the upset.

4 Noble’s Promise 10-1 Solid colt returned from bad luck in the Arkansas Derby to run big at Churchill. He looked strong and full of run on the turn, but then hit the distance wall in the stretch. The 1/16 mile shorter distance of the Preakness should help, but the route is still a question.
***Latest News - Noble's Promise will skip the Preakness and run in England instead, via Ray Paulick.***

5 Hurricane Ike 12-1 The Derby Trial was a big performance in his second dirt try. If the change to dirt is a reason for the apparent rapid improvement, he could prove a dangerous new shooter. The Preakness will be another huge step up for the Sadler trainee, but his last makes him quite interesting.

6 Paddy O’Prado 8-1 One of the talked about horses, he ran a big race in Louisville. Not that long ago he was a maiden, but now he may be have progressed enough to be a major threat against anyone. I wonder if he moved up in the slop, but he must be respected off his recent form.

7 Dublin 15-1 D. Wayne’s main hope was a threatening presence at the quarter pole, but once again faded a bit when the real running began. He must be considered a threat on his best, but until he proves to me that he can get a distance, I can not make him one of my top selections.

8 Schoolyard Dreams 20-1 Derek Ryan trained colt defeated the Derby winner just a few races ago, but then disappointed in the Wood Memorial. He has been freshened since then and if he can improve just a little bit, may prove to be horse with a chance in the stretch.

9 Jackson Bend 20-1 Steps in as the only LaPenta/ Zito colt to make the trip to Baltimore. Hard trying little guy deserves another chance after the Derby craziness. I still see the distance as the main drawback to his win chances once again.

10 Aikenite 25-1 Pletcher’s other entrant showed improvement in the Derby Trial, but I believe that was mainly due to the shorter distance. 1 3/16 should prove tough for the son of Yes It’s True, who probably will have a future rallying in one-turn races.

11 A Little Warm 25-1 New shooter went from a stakes win sprinting to a solid effort in the Louisiana Derby. Not sure if he can make another big jump up against these at the Preakness distance, but he should be involved in the early stages.

12 First Dude 30-1 Lightly raced and distance bred, this colt may still have a future, but it is hard to see it happen in the Preakness. This Dale Romans' second string colt looks destined to run much like you would expect a second stringer to run.

13 Pleasant Prince 30-1 The horse who ran close to Ice Box several times seems to be moving in the wrong direction. His connections tried hard to qualify him for the Derby, and it did not work. Now I am afraid they are left with a non-fresh horse with little chance in here.

14 Northern Giant 40-1 Lukas is famous for taking a flyer in Triple Crown races, and that is all that this horse appears to be. I can’t recommend off his Arkansas Derby performance, in which his lack of class seems to have been on display.


Kimness said...

I think the first 3 horses you listed will be the trifecta - just not sure in which order.
I'd love a TC winner, but I don't think its going to happen.
I've still got a very soft spot for Lookin' At Lucky & hope he gets a decent trip.
Great article Brian - as always!

LDP said...

I still like Dublin, don't ask me why. I think the fact that SS is lightly race, is turning the corner, and looks like he's still getting better makes him very dangerous in the Preakness. However LAL is unbelievale. He need even only a decent trip to get back into the winners circle.