Commentary

Preakness in the rearview mirror

Updated: May 19, 2012, 9:07 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Well, it wasn't Clippers versus Spurs, was it? But the Preakness wasn't a bad showcase for a sport considered by some to be "in trouble."

Here's horse racing's chief source of trouble: the mainstream media that shows up once a year on an expense account at the Kentucky Derby and has an assistant scare up another sport-in-peril story.

Horse racing is changing fast.

The "majors," the Triple Crown races and the Breeder's Cup, draw great on site and on TV.

During the rest of the year, nobody goes to the live races, but lots bet at simulcast joints and at home.

Find a more exciting recent sporting event than the Preakness. Go ahead. I'll be right here waiting to hear about it.

Everybody sees different things during a day at the races. Here is what I saw.

Two tracks had very good days: Belmont Park, which will be the bull's-eye of the sports world in three weeks, and Santa Anita, which put real-earth dirt back on its racing surface and has become a major player in the majors, running 1-2-3 here.

I'll Have Another was one of the great prices in recent Triple Crown history at 3.20-to-1 odds, particularly in light of Went the Day Lousy finishing next to last at 5-1 and Daddy Nose Sunland finishing third from the bottom at 11-1.

Pimlico determined that the next best thing to having slot machines in the infield was putting Maroon 5 in the infield.

Any public handicapper who couldn't see that Bodemeister would have an uncontested lead and would be tough to run down will have a difficult time shaking the tag of disgrace to the profession.

Behind third, the field was sorry, the new stuff belonging in allowance races at halfway-decent tracks across the land.

I would have to say that my handicapping of the Preakness got a grade of B-plus. Flip back and see for yourself, as Plan B was a direct hit, and the calls of "Hurry Wire" for Bodemeister and "Tough Cookie" for the winner, and "Daddy Nose Sunland," carrying logic through the stretch.

Bob Baffert's wife seemed to know their horse was in trouble before anybody else did, suggesting on a replay of the owner's box that he could lose while still maintaining a comfortable lead at the middle of the stretch.

Pimlico determined that the next best thing to having slot machines in the infield was putting Maroon 5 in the infield.

The smart money came on Creative Cause, smart money being late money probably from somebody closely involved, dropping the horse a full point on the tote. Smart money can only know of one horse, not the race as a whole. Creative Cause ran like it always runs, decently, but not as good as the time before.

I'll Have Another has the style of staying in touch with the lead to win the Belmont, as nothing closes all that much at the distance.

What would a Triple Crown winner do for this land of ours?

A horse named for an act of wanting a snack?

A heretofore unknown rider who seemed to misjudge the Derby finish line?

A trainer alleged to have used questionable tactics out west?

A zillionaire owner?

This group was made to improve this country's spirits.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.