Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Welcome to the newcomers
BALTIMORE, MD -- Word in the press box regarding all new shooters for Saturday's 137th running of the Preakness Stakes: they've got no shot.
Word in the press box is usually right.
It has long been noted that horses wheeling back from a Kentucky Derby start dominate Pimlico's 1 3/16-mile event. This year, they're 8-5 morning-line favorite Bodemeister, 5-2 second-choice I'll Have Another, who also happens to be the winner, Went the Day Well (6-1), Creative Cause (6-1), Daddy Nose Best (12-1) and Optimizer (30-1).
The most recent horse to win the Preakness without starting in the Derby was Rachel Alexandra in 2009, but of course, she was the winner of the Kentucky Oaks. Last colt to win the Preakness without a Derby run was Bernardini in 2006. He came into the race following an April 29 victory in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes the same year Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro suffered his eventually fatal breakdown.
Plenty of disparaging statistics have been bandied about in the days leading up to this year's Preakness regarding horses who did not make a Derby start. Over at the Daily Racing Form, Jay Privman noted that new shooters have won the Preakness only seven times in the past 40 years, dating to Bee Bee Bee upsetting Derby winner Riva Ridge in the 1972 running.
But in horse racing, there's always hope -- so meet the new guys.
Tiger Walk (Post 1, 30-1 odds, trainer Ignacio Correas IV, jockey Kent Desormeaux): You've gotta root for a runner representing Sagamore Farm, the historic Maryland operation brought back to health and prominence by Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank. Still, this son of Tale of the Cat presented no real threat to the winners while hitting the board in his past three starts in graded stakes -- the Withers, Gotham, and Wood Memorial -- and hasn't won since a Dec. 14 allowance score at Laurel Park. Comes from behind, and is expected to take back even starting from the 1-hole.
"Most likely, Bodemeister is going to set the pace, and somebody is going to be out there, but it's not going to be us," Correas said. "That's not our style."
Teeth of the Dog (Post 2, 15-1, Michael Matz, Joe Bravo): With only one victory under his belt, Teeth of the Dog jumped up to the big-time when he last started in the Wood Memorial at odds of 53-1. He ran third but was solidly trounced by the top two, Gemologist and Alpha. Gemologist was 16th in the Derby, Alpha ran 12th. That's not exactly flattering form.
Pretension (Post 3, 30-1, Chris Grove, Javier Santiago): Pretension ran ninth in the Illinois Derby, which really bummed me out because I liked him before that race off a bad trip and a fifth-place finish in the Gotham. Was glad to see him recover from yet another bad trip at Hawthorne to get the win in the Canonero Stakes here at Pimlico on May 5, but not convinced his victory by a neck over Brimstone Island, who did not enter the Preakness, is enough to merit serious consideration here.
Zetterholm (Post 4, 20-1, Rick Dutrow Jr., Junior Alvarado): This colt was the second Preakness contender to arrive at Pimlico, showing up May 12 and working May 13 over the track. He won a stakes race going a mile in state-bred company at Aqueduct on April 6, his third straight, climbing the ranks from maiden and allowance company. That's great. This is a Triple Crown Classic, and Zetterholm is no Big Brown.
Cozzetti (Post 11, 30-1, Dale Romans, Jose Lezcano): Hasn't raced since an April 14 fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. With superior stablemate Dullahan headed to the Belmont Stakes, it seems as though 2011 Preakness winner Romans is just looking for a free crab cake or two. The horse is still a maiden winner dating back to a five-length score Nov. 16 at Churchill Downs. He ran third in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, so maybe you want to include him in your exotic wagers for a price. One saving grace is that he worked lights out at Churchill on May 14 before shipping to Baltimore.