I've never cashed a ticket on the Preakness. That's not quite as bad as it sounds because I've sat it out fairly often. Not always a great betting race but, more often than not, perfectly compelling enough just to watch. Will probably pass on it again this year, partly because of that, and partly to keep my perfect record. It's kinda like a badge of honor; I mean, how many of you can say that?
My earliest recollection of futility is the 1980 edition, when Angel Cordero Jr took Codex out several paths on the turn to stop the momentum of the oncoming Genuine Risk, who I had in the Derby and came back with in the second leg. Saw that the entire ABC broadcast is posted on You Tube. 33 years ago, and a lot of advances in broadcasting since then, with all the different camera angles, replay technology, reporters on horseback, animated simulations, and the like. But don't know what could have been added to the coverage then. Helps when you have knowledgeable people like Jim McKay, Eddie Arcaro, and....yes....even Howard Cosell providing the commentary. If you're interested, the race starts at the 31 minute mark with the great Dave Johnson calling the action; and the post-race coverage of the stewards inquiry is worth watching. And check out the "gentleman from California," Wayne Lukas, celebrating with Cordero at the 41 minute mark. After the stewards left the result unchanged, McKay says: "Boy, are they gonna be writing and talking about what you saw on the screen several times..." "For a long time, Jimmy," adds Cosell. Indeed. (And yes, he should have been taken down.)
Orb draws the rail and is made even money; I don't think he'll be a penny over 3-5. I find it a bit breathtaking that Shug would label the colt's breeze on Monday "breathtaking." And the trainer was pleased again as the horse galloped over the track at Pimlico on Wednesday. As I said prior to the Derby, when this trainer talks, I listen.
"The one thing that really surprises me is how well he's come out of his races, not only mentally but physically," McGaughey said. "I was looking at him with the blanket off him and the sun shining and I saw a different horse than I saw a week ago. He's sure come a long way since the Florida Derby. [SI.com]So yes, I believe Orb will continue to improve, and make short order of this field. Just to be safe though, I will avoid even exotics with him on top so as not to jinx his chances. Want to see madness and mayhem at Belmont on June 8.
Departing (6-1) is the leader of the new-shooter contingent; 3rd choice in the Preakness morning line after winning the Illinois Derby. It's easy for me to make cases against the horses that are running back from the Derby, despite the various excuses, which are indeed legitimate I believe in the cases of Goldencents, Oxbow, and Will Take Charge (in descending order of legitimacy). Not quite so Departing; he has classy-looking running lines with his four wins in five starts; comes home well and hails from solid connections. (And there's that sentimental crap too.) But he came up a bit short in his one try against this type of company; and he comes up slower on my numbers, and on Beyer's too.
Lukas is saying that Titletown Five is not going to try for the lead.
"I'd like to see him relax about 3-4 lengths off (the pace). I don't think he'll be on the lead and I really don't want him on the lead, either. He's not as one-dimensional as his form is going to show him to be. [Kentucky.com]That's good news for Goldencents (8-1), who I believe will therefore find himself alone on the lead. Not buying Governor Charlie (12-1); shows some snappy fractions from the Sunland Derby, but seems to me that the track was souped up that day. Nonetheless, still don't like O'Neill's colt for the top slot. Can't take those front-running efforts on big-race days on that Santa Anita dirt track seriously after that speed bias fiasco in the Breeders' Cup last year.
Itsmyluckyday (10-1) draws the outside. Well, as I've said, everyone coming out of the Derby gets to use the "he didn't like the track" excuse; but this horse got beat decisively by Orb in the Florida Derby and ran 22 lengths behind him in the Derby and does anyone really believe that this horse is gonna compete with him this time? On the other hand, he was reported to be doing well prior to the Derby, and was reported by his trainer to have worked well last Sunday. He was the wiseguy horse in the bad sense in the Derby, overbet at 9-1; could maybe see him as a sneaky wiseguy play to hit the board here at double his morning odds (which he won't be).
- In the 7th at Belmont today, Downtown Hollie (4-1) won off a layoff for trainer Anthony Dutrow at the Big A last month, closing determinedly in an even-paced affair. In her first effort for jockey Cornelio Velasquez, back again today, she returned to the mid-pack closing style which had served her well in the past. Moves back to state-bred company at a level in which she ran well here last summer, and prepared at Fair Hill with a half-mile breeze as she did before her prior. Has raced well in the past off this 25 day spacing 2nd off the layoff and looking for another good effort here. Inimitable Romanee (5-2) looks fastest of these, but comes off a layoff of 176 days. If early last year is any indication, when she returned from a break of a shorter duration, she'll need a couple of races to get going. Best of luck and have a great day.