This is the LATG Preakness Top Ten of horses and people who I think will be in the news on or around Preakness Day:
1) Super Saver, not because I'm not going to look to beat him. But rather because the Derby winner automatically earns this slot in my mind, at least until something starts to go wrong, like bad weather which disrupts his/her workout routine, an unexpectedly sluggish drill, an unexpected challenge from an insurgent Tea Party entry, or, of course, some kind of physical problem. But, for now, Super Saver continues to bask in the glory of his Derby win, taking accolades with his hay, unable to make Letterman due to logistical issues, but reportedly working on a column for Slate. And he went out for a jog on Wednesday, pleasing Todd Pletcher.
"His energy level was very good. His appetite has been very good. He seems to have taken the race really well." [NY Daily News]I guess he was keeping something in reserve as he ran the last quarter in 26.72.
2) Ice Box - Yeah, I know, he's not running, but I wouldn't be shocked if they change their mind. Nick Zito and Robert LaPenta passing up a chance at a Triple Crown race? And one they could win? In any event, after looking at the past performances of the horses being mentioned as the "new shooters," much of the talk might be about him even if he's not there. I guess Zito is looking at that pedigree, him being out of a dam, Spice Island, by the Belmont winner Tabasco Cat, who won two stakes (including the G2 Long Island Handicap) at a mile and a half, and another (Glens Falls) at 11 furlongs. As I mentioned before the Derby, this horse kind of fell into this deep closer thing in the Florida Derby, and he got the ideal pace setup again in the Derby. OK, maybe a had a wee bit of trouble this time. LaPenta said: "I don't think it had to with just the pace;" certainly he overcame trouble. But pace makes the race as they say, and the Belmont will be a far different one. But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.
3) Governor Paterson signs legislation authorizing a loan to NYRA but, in a desperate ploy for much needed cash with the budget standoff entering its seventh week, directs it to conduct racing around the clock on Preakness weekend. When the jockeys and horses refuse to continue after the 23rd on Friday, Paterson orders state legislatures and furloughed workers to take their place. With federal agents conducting a pre-dawn raid in hot pursuit, Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada sweeps Sunday's early early Pick Four.
4) Jess Jackson, who said before the La Troienne that Rachel Alexandra was "85 percent to 90, maybe 95" says that she was actually "only 83.7%. She was 77.3% for the Fair Grounds race, so she's getting better. But we absolutely won't race her again until she's at least 94.3%" When asked if there was even a 3.1% chance that she would eventually meet Zenyatta after all, he replied "only on dirt and only if we think Rachel is at least 11.6% fitter than her."
5) Noble's Promise moved up smoothly and turned for home with the lead in the Derby, so I got a little excitement for my four bucks at 25-1 before he staggered home in 27.82, and I'd be insulting a lot of harness horses by calling that harness horse time. And he still only lost by six lengths! I just don't see how one can get excited about any of these horses coming out of that race. Trainer Ken McPeek wrote in the NY Post:
We passed the 10 horse (Paddy O'Prado) and then he came back to pass us, so maybe we just need to admit Noble's Promise is a miler, but a darned good one. [NY Post]They were going to send him instead to a mile race in the UK; an interesting prospect given McPeek's own admission of his probable distance limitations, and, as I've mentioned before, the many fine turf horses in his pedigree, including the F&M Turf winner Soaring Softly. But now McPeek says the horse is "possible" for the Preakness.
"..we're concerned about the expense of going over and back, plus the purse on that race was modest compared to the Preakness. We felt like it would be more prestigious to run in the [$1 million] Preakness." [Washington Post]Yeah, but, uh, y'know, why, what about..., you said..., oh, nevermind.
6) Hurricane Ike looks like the most interesting of the "new shooters" in a race which could certainly use some. The Derby Trial winner has progressed very nicely this year after showing promise at two. The big question is the fact that his only two turn race, at Keeneland, was a disaster. However, he certainly seems to have improved since moving to real dirt. And his breeding - Graeme Hall (Dehere) out of a dam who's out of a mare by Future Storm (Storm Cat) - seems fine, if uninspiring. Looks like an intriguing possibility for a trainer having a big year.
7) Todd Pletcher finally loses his cool when NBC asks to interview him for a feature about his 0 for 4 career record in the Preakness. The Toddster was already having a difficult week having had to fend off reporters' questions about Super Saver's portrayal of him in his column for Slate, in which he called the trainer "priggish," and a "fastidious nerd."
8) Schoolyard Dreams was my bet in the Wood. He might have had a legitimate excuse with Ramon taking him back off the lethargic pace. But the fact that he finished behind Awesome Act sure don't seem too flattering now, does it?
9) Do you think we'll ever see Eskendereya on the racetrack again?
10) Andy Beyer acknowledges that he was the man originally considered a suspect in the attempted car bombing in Times Square on Saturday night after he was videotaped "furtively" looking back up W 45th Street. When Beyer, who failed to include Super Saver amongst his top four picks for the Derby, was asked why he was observed removing his shirt and stuffing it in a bag, he replied "Because I didn't want to lose it twice in one day."