- Michael Matz has tried to keep a low profile since the Derby. He’s a confident man to be sure, but cautiously so, agreeing with those who say that there’s no real way to know how he’ll do off the two week layoff. But Ray Kerrison of the NY Post was able to finally elicit a bit of cockiness from the trainer: “Somebody might beat Barbaro - some day."
But will that day be Saturday? The post position draw on Wednesday will be important with so many speed and pressing types in the race; but however it turns out, Barbaro will likely have far better horses to track down than he did at Churchill, probably including both Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint. Bernardini will have to prove his worth in only his 4th lifetime start, but don’t forget about Like Now. If he draws inside, he can park himself on the rail with a lead and could be a tough opponent. We’ve already seen that he has the breeding. And don’t be too fooled by that line in Sweetnorthernsaint's pp's in the Gotham – his close for third to Like Now looks better on paper than it actually was – SNS wasn’t catching him any time soon. I’m not saying he’s going to win, but he could be a big factor, causing one or more of the contenders to expend precious energy in order to get by.
I think this is going to be one contentiously paced Preakness, and Edgar Prado is going to be looking to get a similar trip to that of the Derby, a good three-four lengths off the lead. The big difference though, is that the Derby winner isn’t going to be gunning for Keyed Entry and Sinister Minister this time. He’s going to be faced with some really good horses, and if one or both of Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint can avoid getting caught up early, Dan Hendricks may get his wish:
"I'm hoping for a stretch duel," said Hendricks, who returned to California for a few days before heading to Pimlico while [Brother Derek] stayed at Churchill Downs. "I hope it's a true-run race, that's all I can ask for." [Albany Times-Union]- Besides getting a better trip than in the Derby, Dan Hendricks will be hoping for a better seat. At least one not near Barbaro’s assistant Peter Brette.
"I thought I was going to blow his eardrums out at one point," Brette says. "Dan was explaining to his owners where the horse was and how he was doing. I was fairly quiet until I saw him turning for home. Then, I started screaming" [Philly Daily News]No wonder that group looked so depressed right after the race; bad enough their horse lost, they had it rubbed in. That seems like a violation of good track etiquette to me.
- Kent Desormeaux told the Washington Post that Sweetnorthernsaint was bothered by dirt in the face.
"The sand in his eyes frazzled him, and he tried to run away from it," the jockey said. "Once I turned down the backside, I would have been happy to stay back, but I didn't want to jerk his teeth out. He would have burned just as much energy dragging me out of the saddle. He was just flying by horses, and I wasn't asking him."I’m wondering if he’s going to be second choice, the way he’s been getting bet late. If I bet the race at all, it will depend on if there's anything worth betting, and I don't know that they'll be any value with any combination of the top three. I'll be spending the next few days deciding if there's a case to be made for one of them running out (and I mean other than Barbaro), and, if so, which of the others can get a piece and create some value in the exotics.
"I guarantee I won't be worse than second," he said.
Despite the nine, and maybe ten horse field, three of them, Hemingway’s Key, Greeley’s Legacy, and oh man, Platinum Couple, figure to be no factor whatsoever at any point in this race. Hemingway’s Key has been just miserable this year, losing his four tries by more than 40 lengths combined. I find it hard to believe that this was Zito’s decision to run. And Platinum Couple...I’m not even going to bother.
- Jerry Klein, the excellent writer for Thoroughbred Times and MSN/Fox.com, on the two weeks between races:
Whether it makes much sense to put the best horses in the country back on the track so soon after the ordeal of the Derby is another question often raised around this time. The close proximity of the Preakness is a remnant of bygone days, when the two races were rivals rather than equal parts of racing's most sought-after prize. Indeed, Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner in 1919, won his Preakness just four days after he won the Derby.
That timing made more sense 75 years ago, when races were run at a slower pace over deeper tracks. Modern trainers rarely opt to run a top horse with less than three weeks off and many prefer a month.[MSN.Foxsports.com]