Preakness Picks

Here’s a much less long-winded rundown of the Preakness Stakes, as Derby winner I’ll Have Another attempts to head to Elmont, New York with a shot at racing immortality.

PP #1- Tiger Walk, 30-1 Morning Line- Still winless in three starts this year, he did make up a bit of ground late to finish fourth in the Wood Memorial, posting a career high Beyer of 90. However, the Wood form didn’t hold up especially well in the Kentucky Derby, with the winner finishing 16th and the runner up 12th.

PP #2- Teeth of the Dog, 15-1 Morning Line- This is a very lightly raced colt, with only four career starts and just one of those coming in 2012. However, he has posted increasing speed numbers in each of those four races, the last of which was a 93 Beyer in a third place Wood Memorial finish.  He’s had a long layoff since then and certainly has potential to improve, but takes a big step up here.

PP #3- Pretension, 30-1 Morning Line- He does have a win over this course to his credit in his last outing, but he’ll need to improve vastly upon that effort to factor here. The 83 Beyer he earned for that race was his highest figure in eight career starts, and the lowest top figure in the field.

PP #4- Zetterholm, 20-1 Morning Line- Arguably the most interesting of the newcomers, he has won his last three starts at Aqueduct over weaker company. His stalking style should fit here and his pedigree suggests he won’t have any trouble getting the distance, but would need to step forward from his career best Beyer of 85.

PP #5- Went the Day Well, 6-1 Morning Line- He put some juice into the superfecta and overachieved in an impressive 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, finishing the final quarter mile faster than any other horse in the race. One might wonder, however, whether that closing kick was a bit of a mirage. He had been taken back well out of the race and didn’t really start running until horses were backing up behind a grueling pace. You’ve got to try to beat someone in this race, so I’ll aim to keep him out of the top three on the basis that his Derby wasn’t as good as it looked, as he won’t have nearly the same pace scenario this time and will need to be more forwardly placed.

PP #6- Creative Cause, 6-1 Morning Line- His Derby was actually quite formidable, as he finished 5th after running nearly the entire race six to eight wide. He shouldn’t have been in that type of traffic trouble with such a favorable post in that race, so perhaps the horse has a tendency for finding it. However, he did make a strong move to improve his position from 10th to 3rd as he came down the stretch, and even though he was caught by a couple of closers he only missed the winner by three lengths- not a terribly large amount considering the amount of ground he had to cover relative to the top two. Additionally, that was his ninth career race, and that seasoning could help him recover more quickly for this race than the top two, both of whom he has beaten at earlier points in his career. Looks to be the lone overlay in the field at these odds, so I won’t back away from him now. The pick, again.

PP #7- Bodemeister, 8-5 Morning Line Favorite- Arguably, his runner-up performance in the Kentucky Derby was a more impressive race than the winner ran, as he set torrid fractions and stuck around with authority. There really isn’t any other speed signed on here, so Bodemeister should be able to control the pace much more easily and have much more gas left in the tank this time. The change in pace scenario alone makes him extremely dangerous here based on what he was able to show in the Derby. The main question mark here is the same one I had two weeks ago, and it becomes amplified now: Can a horse so short on seasoning deliver a third consecutive powerhouse performance in a six week span? At these odds, he is worth trying to beat, but on paper he should be the winner.

PP #8- Daddy Nose Best, 12-1 Morning Line- My suspicions were proven true in the Derby when he put in a middling but not disgraceful effort, finishing in the middle of the field with little excuse and never factoring. The feeling with this horse all along was that he is probably just a cut below the top runners in this class, and nothing that happened in that race changed that view. There’s no reason he can’t move forward off of that effort but if I didn’t use him two weeks ago, it would be hard to use him here, with at least four horses running that were considerably more impressive. Same reasoning applies, although for superfecta betting, he’s worth using underneath.

PP #9- I’ll Have Another, 5-2 Morning Line- The Derby winner continues to get no respect, which hasn’t hurt his winning ways so far in 2012. Undefeated in three starts, this colt is nothing if not professional, and is working like he is ready to fire again. At some point, one would think that so many tough races with such little seasoning would begin to catch up with him, but so far recovery has not been a problem. He did enjoy the most ideal trip imaginable in the Kentucky Derby thanks to a fantastic ground-saving ride from rookie jockey Mario Gutierrez and there is an argument to be made that without it he doesn’t hit the board in that race, let alone win it, but the fact remains that at this point he is a proven warrior with wins over all of the top contenders here. 5-2 on the Derby winner isn’t bad money and he has to be used in exotics.

PP #10- Optimizer, 30-1 Morning Line- One of the longest shots in the field two weeks back in the Derby, he didn’t disgrace himself in an 11th place finish but didn’t really factor either, as he stayed mid-pack throughout the race in a single gear, never improving his position. Coming back in two weeks against some of the same horses after a relative overachievement is probably asking a lot.

PP #11- Cozetti, 30-1 Morning Line- He seems to be improving as his last two races have shown ascending speed figures from his two year-old season, topping off at a 92 Beyer for his 4th place finish in the Arkansas Derby. Still, his performance in that race leaves something to be desired, as he was making up ground entering the stretch but then hung and fell back as the distance caught up with him. Not exactly the type of trend you’d like to see when stepping up in competition and stretching out in terms of distance.


1. Creative Cause

2. Bodemeister

3. I’ll Have Another

4. Went the Day Well

5. Daddy Nose Best

6. Teeth of the Dog

7. Zetterholm

8. Cozetti

9. Tiger Walk

10. Optimizer

11. Pretension


As tempting as the dime superfecta always is, the more that I look at this race, the more I see a huge separation between the Derby runners and the newcomers, perhaps as big a separation as I can ever remember in this race. I’d love to throw a bomber into the 3rd or 4th spot and hope for a big payoff, and have been trying to find one all week, but from a handicapping standpoint it is just very hard to make a convincing argument for any of them relative to the Derby runners. At the same time, boxing exactas and trifectas using the four favorites isn’t likely to be very lucrative given the seemingly superior chalk here, so this is a race where I think you need to take a stand. There is a somewhat counter-intuitive argument to be made that Bodemeister will actually not benefit from potentially slower fractions, and that setting such fractions will keep tough horses closer to him for longer than is ideal. While entirely possible, I think it is worth trying to beat a potential repeat of the Derby exacta at these odds, so I will use Creative Cause again as my key horse in two horse exacta boxes with the top two Derby finishers. I’ll also, once again, place a straight win-place-show bet on Creative Cause. If I’m wrong again, he owes me a steak dinner the next time he’s in town.


$10 WPS on Creative Cause

$5 Exacta Box: Creative Cause, Bodemeister

$5 Exacta Box: Creative Cause, I’ll Have Another

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