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Preakness News and Notes
Preakness News and Notes
by T.O. Whenham
The 2007 Preakness is less than two weeks away, so that leaves us with a major task to accomplish before then - 2007 Preakness analysis. We are still a week away from knowing exactly who is going to be in the field and what post positions they will break from, but that doesn't mean that we can't look to see what we can learn from history. In the Triple Crown races history has a way of repeating itself again and again - horses that didn't run at two can't win the Derby, Todd Pletcher's Derby horses would struggle to beat me in a foot race and Bob Baffert is almost unbeatable in Baltimore if he has a live horse. There are lessons to be learned from the past that apply to this year's field:
1. You'd better have a good reason to bet against Street Sense. Recent history has treated the Kentucky Derby winner very kindly in the Preakness. Six of the last 10 Derby winners have gone to the Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown. All six of those horses - Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones - have looked solid coming into the Preakness off impressive Derby wins, and all have met the lofty expectations at Pimlico. It's early, but Street Sense so far looks like he is ready to follow in the footsteps of those before him.
You can go one step further on this line of thought, too. In each of the four cases that the Derby winner didn't repeat, there was a simple explanation. Barbaro's tragedy last year is obvious. In the cases of Giacomo in 2005 and Monarchos in 2001, one would be hard pressed to suggest that they were the best horses in the Derby. They both won, and they deserve credit for that, but in both cases they were beaten in the Preakness by a superior horse that had an off day in the Derby. The fourth horse, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, didn't even run in the Preakness. In other words, over the last decade a solid and well regarded Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness, when capable, every time.
If you buy into numerical patterns then this year fits a recent pattern as well. The Derby winner won the Preakness from 1997-99, failed to for two years, won again for three years from 2002-04, then failed again the last two years. The pattern is three wins then two losses, so by that logic we're due.
2. Don't rule out the Derby also-rans. This would seem to contradict the earlier point, but it's not possible to completely rule a horse out of Preakness consideration just because they struggled in the Derby. Most famously in recent times, Louis Quatorze won the Preakness in 1996 after stumbling to a disappointing 16th place finish in the Derby. That has to be fueling the decisions of Teuflesberg's connection to aim for the Preakness after a 17th place finish last Saturday. Point Given won in 2001 after a fifth in the Derby. Sedgefield is also moving on to Baltimore after his Derby fifth, but I suspect that no one would try to compare the talent of the latter favorably to the former. Afleet Alex won the Preakness and, like Point Given, the Belmont, after a flat third in Kentucky. Curlin will similarly be looking to overcome a somewhat flat show.
3. Any trainer can win. If I was writing this a few years ago then the conclusion may have been a little different. Bob Baffert won four of six Preakness runnings starting in 1997, and D. Wayne Lukas won five in less than 20 years. Greats like Charlie Whittingham and Nick Zito claimed theirs during the same time. It would have been easy at that point to conclude that you had to have a big time trainer to win the Preakness. 2007 Preakness analysis, though, leads to a different conclusion. The last two winning trainers, Tom Albertrani and Tim Ritchey, made the Preakness their first Triple Crown victory. Joe Orseno did the same in 2000. Lukas and Zito are likely to have Preakness starters, but that shouldn't rule out supporting less experienced, less successful conditioners. Even Todd Pletcher has to win a Triple Crown race at some point. Doesn't he?
4.Maybe it's all in the name. You might not believe that the name of a horse has anything to say about its success on the track, but there are some interesting, or at least entertaining, conclusions to draw here nonetheless. In the last 30 years, almost a quarter of the Preakness winners have had names that, like Street Sense, are made up of two words and start with S. Spectacular Bid, Snow Chief, Silver Charm and Smarty Jones are all among the seven. More compellingly, Summer Squall, Sunday Silence and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew have not just one but both names starting with S. Street Sense is in very good company in that regard. By contrast, only two horses in that time frame - Charismatic and Codex - share the same alphabetical order as Curlin, and only Hansel would be filed in the same drawer as Hard Spun. It's up to you to decide how much that matters. If nothing else, this is the kind of thing that can be a great excuse if your selection doesn't work out.
Re: Preakness News and Notes
Down the Stretch - Preakness
By Brian Gabrielle
Speculation swirls every spring after the Kentucky Derby: Will this be the year Thoroughbred racing finally produces another Triple Crown champion?
Attention in 2007 is centered on Street Sense, the colt who last week broke the "Breeders' Cup jinx," which many have used as a handicapping angle since the multi-race autumn showcase was instituted in 1984.
Street Sense, who flashed brilliance in winning the 1 16th-mile Juvenile in early November, is the first 3-year-old to go on six months later to capture the Run for the Roses at a mile-and-a-quarter.
He will try to add the 1 3/16ths-mile Preakness Stakes to his credits on May 19.
Many observers say the Street Cry-Bedazzled colt is the best Triple Crown candidate to come down the pike in a long time -- perhaps since 1989, when Sunday Silence and Easy Goer dueled for supremacy.
Affirmed 10 years earlier was the horse last to sweep all three legs, though several since have won two, including Afleet Alex in 2005.
Barbaro, the 2006 Run for the Roses champion, never got a chance to shoot for all the marbles, breaking down early in the Preakness and later being euthanized after triumphing at Churchill Downs.
Afleet Alex was an exception, in that he captured the Triple Crown's final two races, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, after long shot Giacomo took the Derby.
Most Triple Crown hopefuls go into the grueling mile-and-a-half Belmont with a pair of victories under their saddles, only to lose at the longer distance; Smarty Jones in 2004 was a prime example, as were Funny Cide and War Emblem the previous two years.
Many racebooks posted Triple Crown propositions prior to the Derby, then took them down or juggled prices in the wake of Street Sense's triumph.
Bodog.com and VIP.com are two of few offshore books that currently offer Triple Crown wagering.
"No," there will not be a Triple Crown champion, is the favorite at both.
Bodog's prices are "No" minus $6.00 and "Yes" plus $3.50; they're minus $5.00 and plus $3.50 at VIP.
Both books also ask if Street Sense will win the Preakness.
Again, "No" is the choice.
"Yes" is plus $1.35 at Bodog and plus $1.40 at VIP; "No" is minus $1.75 and minus $1.70 respectively.
Shoppers at VIP this week also could find a prop that asks whether Street Sense will be this year's Breeders' Cup Classic champion.
Cost was plus $3.00 on "Yes" and minus $4.00 on "No."
One overseas site listed Classic odds on several dozen potential candidates, with Street Sense emerging as an early 3/1 favorite, followed by reigning champion Invasor at 4/1 and Derby show horse Curlin at 8/1.
Monmouth Park in New Jersey will be the site of the 2007 Breeders' Cup.
The Preakness is expected to draw only a handful of Kentucky Derby starters.
Runner-up Hard Spun is expected and Curlin is a distinct possibility, while fourth-place finisher Imawildandcrazyguy is being pointed toward the Belmont.
Other Derby also-rans rumored headed to Pimlico includes Sedgefield and Teuflesberg, with Todd Pletcher-trained King of the Roxy, runnerup in the Santa Anita Derby, likely to join them.
Pletcher's five Derby entrants finished off the board, making the Eclipse Award winner's record in Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious event an unimpressive 0-for-19.
The Preakness deck still was being shuffled at mid-week, so futures wagering on matchups and individual entrants wasn't available; in contrast, Derby futures, like Classic futures, are posted months in advance.
Veteran bookmaker John Avello of Wynn Las Vegas often puts up futures on one before the other even is contested.
Other anticipated Preakness participants include Lexington Stakes winner Slew's Tizzy, Chelokee, Xchanger, CP West and Flying First Class.
Distance is a primary factor in handicapping the Triple Crown.
The Preakness is a furlong shorter than the Derby and three furlongs less than the Belmont, which is three weeks later.
Horses often are bred to run on certain type tracks or at specific distances.
Some are sprinters, others routers or perhaps turf specialists; some are pace setters, others closers.
The filly Rags to Riches, for example, the Kentucky Oaks champion that is handled by Pletcher, may run in New York against the boys because her pedigree indicates an inclination to stretch out.
She is a half-sister to 2006 Belmont winner Jazil.
Experts also contend it's best to have an experienced, respected jockey in the longer Belmont because veteran riders are better prepared to guide a horse from off the pace.
Re: Preakness News and Notes
Roxy' solid in work; Teuflesberg out
By DAVID GRENING
ELMONT, N.Y. - When a horse is beaten less than a length in the Santa Anita Derby, that is usually good enough to earn him a start in the Kentucky Derby. But the connections of King of the Roxy opted to be more prudent and decided the colt's best chance at winning a classic race would be in the Preakness.
At 1 3/16 miles, the Preakness is a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Derby and figures to have half the number of starters. Thus far, it appears patience has paid off for King of the Roxy, who completed preparations for Saturday's $1 million Preakness by working six furlongs in 1:14.87 Saturday morning over the Belmont Park training track.
King of the Roxy was one of two Preakness starters to work on Saturday, a day in which the Preakness field shrunk to eight confirmed runners. Xchanger, winner of the Federico Tesio, drilled five furlongs in 59.40 seconds over the Tapeta surface at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland.
Meanwhile, the connections of Teuflesberg, the 17th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, have decided to skip the Preakness while D. Wayne Lukas said Flying First Class - and not Starbase - would be his only Preakness runner. Other confirmed runners include Kentucky Derby 1-2-3 finishers Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin, as well as C P West and Mint Slewlep. A Sunday-morning workout was to determine the status of Chelokee.
King of the Roxy, a son of Littleexpectations, won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont as a 2-year-old before finishing a well-beaten eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, his first start around two turns.
King of the Roxy got very sick when he first arrived in south Florida this winter, delaying his seasonal debut until March 3 ,when he came from off the pace to win the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes - a one-turn, 7 1/2-furlong race - by 2 1/4 lengths. He then shipped to Southern California for the Santa Anita Derby, in which he had a wide trip most of the way, made a short lead in midstretch, but was outfinished by Tiago and finished second. It was his first start at 1 1/8 miles.
"At the eighth pole, I thought he was going to win. At the sixteenth pole, I could tell Tiago was revving up," said Todd Pletcher, trainer of King of the Roxy. "He's probably the kind of horse that's not real well suited to make the lead too early in a race. He has a tendency to idle a bit when he makes the lead."
King of the Roxy also is not an aggressive work horse, which is one reason why Pletcher put him in company with Sunriver, last year's Peter Pan Stakes winner who is pointing to Saturday's William Donald Schaefer at Pimlico.
King of the Roxy, with Garrett Gomez up, started about a length behind Sunriver, who had John Velazquez in the irons. After sitting off Sunriver for the first three furlongs - in which King of the Roxy just shaded 38 seconds - King of the Roxy drew on even terms by the quarter pole, and the two finished together in a final quarter-mile of 24.59 seconds.
King of the Roxy galloped out past Sunriver, and Pletcher caught him galloping out a mile in 1:41.40.
"He's not a horse that necessarily touts himself in the morning, so I thought that was a very good work for him," Pletcher said. "He's held his condition really well, almost to the point where that's why I wanted to go six [furlongs] with him this morning - make sure I got a solid work into him."
Pletcher knows that King of the Roxy will have to put forth the best effort of his career to have a chance to win the Preakness.
"I do think he is a very honest horse and he will go over there and give us everything that he has, and we have to hope that that's good enough,"he said.
Teuflesberg to shorten up
Jamie Sanders, part-owner and trainer of Teuflesberg, said she and her partners will not run Teuflesberg back in two weeks in the Preakness off his 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the horse will be pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day. The Woody Stephens is run at seven furlongs.
Teuflesberg, who won the Southwest Stakes this year, has already made 16 starts in his career.
"We did this for Teuflesberg," Sanders said Saturday afternoon. "He's got a long career in front of him. He's a very sound and healthy horse, and we didn't feel like it's the right thing to run him back in two weeks."
Xchanger pleases Shuman
At Fair Hill, Xchanger breezed five furlongs in 59.40 seconds over the Tapeta Footings synthetic track. Exercise rider Anissa Butler, the fiancee of trainer Mark Shuman, was aboard for the work.
Shuman said he put another horse out in front of Xchanger to get him into the work, but said that Xchanger basically worked on his own. Xchanger is coming off a 4 3/4-length win in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico on April 21.
"Everything's coming together with this horse," Shuman said. "He hasn't missed a beat since that race. I think he's moved forward. All systems go."
If Chelokee doesn't run, Shuman will have Ramon Dominguez to ride Xchanger. If Chelokee does run, Shuman will be in need of a jockey.
* Jockey Edgar Prado is confirmed to ride C P West in the Preakness. Prado has finished third aboard C P West all three times he has ridden him including in the Withers Stakes last month.
* Mint Slewlep, fourth in the Withers Stakes, was to have shipped from Bowie Race Course to Pimlico on Sunday and is scheduled to have a timed workout on Monday. Trainer Robbie Bailes has named the New York-based Alan Garcia to ride.
* Wednesday's post position draw at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore has been moved up 30 minutes and will now be aired on ESPN2 in a one-hour show beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
Re: Preakness News and Notes
On to the Preakness for Street Sense
May 14th, 2007
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The track bias on Derby Day could have a huge effect on the betting for the Preakness. Street Sense will obviously be favored, and deservedly so. However, the public will jump all over Hard Spun for running such a huge race in fast fractions and still finishing second, almost six lengths ahead of Curlin. The expected second choice was definitely aided by the track conditions and could be an extreme underlay.
Curlin, who rallied for third, did finish with a flurry, running his final 1/2-mile in 50 seconds, only 1 2/5 seconds slower than Street Sense. However, there is a reason why horses without a two-year-old foundation do not win the Derby, and this was a perfect example.
One of the old axioms in horse racing is never bet on a horse, especially at low odds, when he's trying to do something hes never done before. Its true that none of the 20 horses had ever raced 1 1/4 miles, but Curlin had never ever been challenged in his three races. In the Derby, he had to face multiple tasks he was not accustomed to, such as coming from off the pace against quality horses. Nevertheless, he now has a hard race under his belt and should move forward in the Preakness.
Its a shame that Todd Pletcher will not send any of his five Derby horses to Baltimore. Circular Quay would be the perfect choice to bet since he would have been overlooked after his sixth-place finish. He had no chance in Kentucky with his running style, his starting post position and the way the track was playing.
Besides the top three finishers (Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin), two other horses from the Derby that might compete in the Preakness are the fifth- place horse, Sedgefield, and the 17th runner, Teuflesberg. Those two pressed the early pace, with the former benefiting from an inside trip and the latter fading quickly around the far turn.
Other possibilities come from Xchanger, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes on the lead at Pimlico on April 21. He has three wins in eight lifetime starts, including a victory in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park last September. The gray colt set the pace in the Rebel and is another speedball that will be near the front end on the third Saturday in May.
Pletcher will be represented by King of the Roxy. The $8,000 yearling purchase has won three of seven career starts, but none longer than 7 1/2 furlongs. His last effort was a second-place finish to Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby.
Chelokee is also a betting option. The son of Cherokee Run ran third in the Florida Derby, and hes trained by Michael Matz of Barbaro fame.
C P West, trained by Nick Zito, has finished first or second in four of five lifetime races, but the one time he tangled with the big boys, he was beaten by 22 lengths by Street Sense in the Breeders Cup Juvenile.
D. Wayne Lukas will send out a runner, either Flying First Class or Starbase. The former won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, but finished sixth, beaten by 12 3/4 lengths by Curlin in the Arkansas Derby. The latter ran second in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, but was defeated soundly by Hard Spun in the Lanes End.
The Preakness should be another victory for Street Sense, as he was much the best in the Derby and is a relatively fresh horse with only three races this year. However, we all saw what happened in 2006 when Barbaro entered the track looking like a lock for the Triple Crown. This is horse racing, and anything can happen.
GOLDEN RAIL PROPELS STREET SENSE
Former jockey Jerry Bailey, who currently works for ESPN as a horse racing analyst, stated before the Kentucky Derby that some of the jockeys should close off the rail to prevent Street Sense from making his patented inside move during the running of the race. Unfortunately for Hard Spun and the rest of the field, that was not to be. Street Sense, 19th in the early going, was allowed to lag 20 lengths behind the hot pace of 22 4/5 and 46 1/5 set by Hard Spun. As the field began to bunch up approaching the far turn, Calvin Borel, aboard Street Sense made his "Bo-rail" move, and the two-year-old Eclipse Award winner responded.
Street Sense was a good 12 lengths behind the leader after three-quarters of a mile in 1:11 flat, but that figure diminished very quickly as the Carl Nafzger-trained colt made up chunks of ground in a flash. Borel still had tons of horse left even after running a third quarter in 23 1/5 and with no one challenging to his outside, it was just a matter of time before the Breeders Cup Juvenile winner would pass the pacesetter.
DISECTING STREET SENSES RAIL TRIP
The race began to take shape for Street Sense at the three-quarter pole when Cowtown Cat, second after the first half-mile, began to tire. That caused Shaun Bridgmohan on Zanjero to move off the rail, where he was in front of Street Sense, to the three-path. Once Cowtown Cat veered out a bit as he faltered, almost all the horses behind him went wide.
The only problem left for the son of Street Cry was Liquidity, who was still on the inside. The next move, and perhaps the clinching one for the winner, belonged to David Flores, the rider on Liquidity, approaching the top of the stretch.
Sedgefield was on the rail, two lengths behind Hard Spun, when he moved to the two-path for a few strides. Liquidity was about to come through the vacated inside hole, but when Sedgefield moved back to the rail, he forced Flores to try and go around him. Liquidity couldn't do so because there was little left in his gas tank and thats what gave Street Sense the room to go in between the two of them and not have to be taken up. Borel then wasted no time going through the hole with dead aim on Hard Spun through the stretch.
RAIN NOT A FACTOR - OR WAS IT?
The expected thunderstorms did not make their way to Churchill Downs on Saturday, but Fridays downpour did have a profound effect on the track the following day. Speed on the rail was winning almost all of the races, and that bias held true to form during the Run for the Roses.
Not to take anything away from the winner because he already had proven to be of high quality, but how in the world was he just one of a few horses to take advantage of the golden rail? Street Sense, Hard Spun and Sedgefield (58-1) were the only three to remain on the inside part of the track for the majority of the race and they finished first, second and fifth.
Not one horse besides Street Sense and Hard Spun ran a bang-up race. Curlin, the Morning Line favorite, finished third, but even he was a non-factor. Any Given Saturday was well placed for the entire race and was even third down the stretch, only five lengths behind the leader. Surprisingly, the well-bred son of Distorted Humor had nothing left in the tank and faded to eighth.
Nobiz Like Shobiz was forwardly placed throughout, but never challenged the leaders, finishing a dismal 10th. If there was one horse that ran better than expected, especially against the bias, it was Imawildandcrazyguy. The gray gelding rallied for fourth and caused the superfecta to skyrocket to $29,046.40. The trifecta, with three of the top four favorites in the money, returned $440.00.
Re: Preakness News and Notes
Chelokee likely will miss Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
Trainer Michael Matz will probably enter the colt in the Barbaro Stakes, an undercard race at Pimlico honoring Matz's ill-fated Kentucky Derby winner.
"Right now, I think that we're leaning toward going in the Barbaro Stakes," Matz said yesterday from Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
Chelokee, third in the Florida Derby on March 31 in his last start, worked five furlongs yesterday in 1:01 with stablemate Wood Be Willing.
"I would say unless something happens where some of those top three horses scratch out, we'll probably go in the Barbaro," Matz said.
The Sir Barton Stakes was renamed the Barbaro Stakes in December to honor the 2006 Derby winner, who was injured at the start of the Preakness and euthanized eight months later because of complications including laminitis.
Matz said Chelokee has recovered from a foot abscess that kept him out of last week's Derby.
"He went five-eighths of a mile and did it very nicely," he said.
-- Associated Press