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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Post Matters

- No one paid much attention to the post positions for the Derby, but the draw for the Preakness may have been more significant.

In the past 20 years of the Preakness, 101 horses have started the mile-and-three-sixteenths race from post positions 8 through 14. Only four have won.

That, however, did not stop [oddsmaker Frank] Carulli from making Afleet Alex, breaking from the No. 12 post, the favorite at odds of 5-2.

"He's the most consistent of the group, and I was going to put him at 2-1 until he drew outside," Carulli said. [NY Times]
Wow, I can't see Alex as 2-1 from any post. Perhaps the draw is also why he made Closing Argument 5-1 3rd choice ahead of Giacomo, who will start from No. 13. Of course, if the Preakness pace is anything like the Derby, it probably wouldn’t matter if he started from the grandstand apron.
"We'll just let him break and hopefully watch them string out a bit," Shirreffs said. "Giacomo doesn't need to be far back; he can stay close. We'll just let him run his race, and we'll watch to see if it's good enough."
I doubt that he will be too close given his post. Although he was closer to the pace in his Derby preps, he would hang in the stretch, so I think perhaps closing from further back may be more his style. Or it may be his style only when they come home in trotting horse time.

- Lauren Stitch in the Form has a worthwhile piece on Derby flops who have bounced back to win the Preakness.
One of the most dramatic form reversals was Snow Chief's Preakness victory in 1986 after he finished 11th in the Derby. It was a prime example of a horse not liking a specific racing surface, and it happened in the Preakness four more times in subsequent years.

Hansel ran a dismal race in the 1991 Derby, finishing 10th, but returned to win the Preakness and Belmont. Pine Bluff was fifth in the 1992 Derby, but won the Preakness. Tabasco Cat, sixth in the 1994 Derby, also won the Preakness and Belmont. Louis Quatorze, who floundered over Churchill's surface in the 1996 Derby and finished 16th, scored a brilliant victory in the Preakness.
There’s no doubt horses can bounce back in this race; but some of them this year don’t really have much to bounce back to; for example, horses like Noble Causeway and Wilko would have to not only bounce back, but improve markedly over their prior efforts. Greeley’s Galaxy, on the other hand, at least has his Illinois Derby effort to run back to, which was a big Beyer if not a win against great competition. A closer look at his Derby effort shows a tougher trip than his rider acknowledged afterwards, as he was widest of all on the first turn, and wide again turning for home. Steve Crist in his DRF chat last night compared him to Ten Most Wanted for his Illinois Derby win followed by a poor Derby, and picks him for second, behind High Fly and ahead of Closing Argument.

- Our still unnamed Tactical Colt has arrived at Belmont and he galloped this morning. Billy Turner is reported to have commented that "he sure is a nice mover" as well as "he has some fire in his engine.” We've been warned to watch ourselves around him if we visit him in the barn! I need both hands to type!

1 Comment:

jillian said...

Ah...Little Snowy! I loved that little guy!

I have pictures I tood at Santa Anita of Snow Chief and a VERY young Alex Solis.