Friday, May 20, 2011



Saturday May 21st , 2011
Name: Preakness Stakes Grade: I
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 3/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Norman Asbjornson
King Congie
Sway Away
Midnight Interlude
Dance City
Mucho Macho Man
Dialed In
Animal Kingdom
Isn’t He Perfect
Concealed Identity
Mr. Commons

You see this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen……many of us foresaw a season where Uncle Mo would make a serious run at becoming the first horse to win both the Triple Crown and the Juvenile Championship..….instead he scratched days before the Kentucky Derby…..please play following link for effect:

In California and in Arkansas The Factor piqued our interest with three straight victories…and then he fizzled in the Arkansas Derby - recent news indicates he's dealing with an injury.

(see ESPN stories --------------------------------------->)

After finishing 2nd in three consecutive derbies maybe Nehro would be the horse to watch in the Preakness? Nope! He’s taking the day off.

So….do you believe in #10 Animal Kingdom?

I can tell you I “want” to believe he can end the 33 year draught without a Triple Crown – but this season in particular has been so unpredictable, I’m close to advising....

Closing Speed likes: Picking a long shot….any long shot – even if the horse has given you absolutely no reason to believe they’ll be solid this Saturday.....and if they don’t win blame the Jockey.

But that seems very defeatist (along with pitiful, bitter, frustrated……etc). It also seems too easy of a way out.....

So let’s take a look at the field…..

There are only two horses who enter the Preakness off an immediate victory - Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom and recent stakes winner Concealed Identity.

#13 Concealed Identity has two consecutive victories here at Pimlico, and in my opinion this field is so unpredictable – a home field advantage is enough to make this horse at least a consideration.

Along with Animal Kingdom, four additional horses return from the Kentucky Derby -

Early speedster #5 Shackleford closed out an impressive 4th in the KY Derby and will enjoy a great starting spot in this race - a mile and 1/16 seems like the perfect distance for this horse....unfortunately the Preakness is one more furlong (1/8 of a mile).

#7 Midnight Interlude continued the grand tradition of coming out of California racing and proving to be a disappointment (16th KY Derby). He enjoyed a solid position in the KY Derby and failing to deliver. I’m reading where several people think this is the horse to watch….I’m not buying it.

#9 Mucho Macho Man – (3rd KY Derby) – he ran the kind of race we expected, but couldn’t close out as strongly as Animal Kingdom. The distance here is shorter….but I don’t know if that matters. Keep in mind the KY Derby was Mucho’s first return to racing since losing his shoe in the Louisiana Derby….so it’s possible he still wasn’t 100% going into the KY Derby. Could make a better step forward here.

#10 Dialed In – (8th KY Derby) – When this horse won the Florida Derby, I think a number of folks believed that Shackleford (60-1 odds and beaten by a nose) was just a fluke that day and that, in contrast, Dialed In was the kind of horse with plenty of late speed who would improve as the distances got longer (which they do in the Triple Crown). However, looking back I’m not so sure that Shackleford isn’t a much better horse than people are giving him credit for…and that Dialed In was only slightly better that day.

The Preakness is really going to show if Dialed In just had a bad day in Kentucky or if he was completely over hyped as the favorite. Many experts feel he fell too far behind early on in the race – we’ll see if there are any adjustments made for the Preakness.

#4 Flashpoint finished fourth in the Florida Derby (against the aforementioned Dialed In and Shackleford) – he may contend as a pace setter in this outing – and that could effect Shackleford’s performance. Flashpoint was brilliant in races under a mile.....if he somehow digs up some endurance - he'll be very dangerous....possible but very unlikely.

#1 Astrology and #12 Isn’t He Perfect last squared off in the Jerome Handicap – Astrology finished 2nd while Isn’t He Perfect loped in at 5th.

Astrology came into this season with a lot of buzz and promise – that has still by and large been unfulfilled. He is apart of one of the last wave of horses sired by A.P. Indy – which is kind of a big deal to Horse Racing people. There’s reason to believe that this horse has the talent he just hasn’t put the pieces together yet – it’s possible it happens in the Preakness. I like his 15-1 odds – but I’m not crazy about his starting spot.

Personally I believe that #6 Sway Away has the ability to be a great horse…..somebody just needs to help this horse understand that being the first to cross the wire is a good thing. When this horse wants to make up ground in the final stretch it is impressive….problem is he just hasn’t wanted to do it lately?? He’s another horse that I believe could blossom at any moment.

#3 King Congie enjoyed three straight victories on Turf before his ownership made a last second bid to get into the Kentucky Derby – by running him in the Blue Grass Stakes where he finished 3rd. I like his starting spot – and this horse will fight for the finish…..question remains if he’s any good on dirt? Which is the question Animal Kingdom may have answered in Kentucky.

#2 Norman Asbjornson – finished a respectable 4th in the Wood Memorial, and 2nd in the Gotham Stakes in New York. He may be solid enough to end up in the top 3 – but I don’t see him winning.

#14 Mr. Commons finished 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby (losing to Midnight Interlude) – unless he creeps up to 50-1, 100-1 --- there’s nothing here of interest.

Finally there’s #8 Dance City, who recently finished 3rd in the Arkansas Derby. I believe that Dance City has some talent – and his starting spot is favorable. The Arkansas Derby was a big step up for this horse, and he may have just needed the race to adjust to the talent level – (Similar to Norman Asbjornson) – I wouldn’t be surprised if he cracked the top three here – I just don’t see him winning.

But no matter what I see in these other horses – whether it’s untapped potential poised for fruition – like Astrology or Sway Away….or horses that are looking to rebound off of a poor race – like Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man and King Congie – the real question still remains –

Do you believe in Animal Kingdom??

His Kentucky Derby victory was remarkable – he overcame a less than preferable post, he weaved well through the traffic – and he won with driving conviction. Was he just in the zone that day?? Or is this horse a legit Triple Crown threat….that’s what Saturday is going to be all about!

From a bettors perspective - I think you roll with the unpredictable nature of this season - $2 win bets on Flashpoint, King Congie, and Astrology will cost a total of $8 - and if one of them pulls off the mild upset it should net you around $35 to $60 - not bad. With all three I like their odds and the starting spots are solid.

In Flashpoint - I see him parting from the field early, and hitting the wire before the late chargers can catch him.

In King Congie - I see a horse liking his first outing on Dirt - and returning to the winner's circle.

In Concealed Identity - home field advantage, against a questionable field - 30-1 odds and rising?

With Astrology - His talent finally comes together.

But that's not what I'm hoping for.....what I'd like to see is an even more impressive victory by Animal Kingdom, with Mucho Macho Man fighting off Sway Away for 2nd and 3rd place.

Closing Speed likes: #11, #9, #6

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