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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Preakness Notes - May 17

- This pre-Preakness week seems a bit like cold turkey after the minutae of Derby week. A lot of the little details are gone – no The Works on TVG, and we don’t have Steve Haskin or Mike Welsch on hand to provide commentary on every little aspect of each horse’s movements for the day. Of course, this is due in large part to the fact that only two of the entrants are actually at Pimlico. Perhaps that’s a good thing; based on the Derby clocker reports I probably would have had Bandini on top of every ticket I had. Though Bellamy Road looked good too. And Wilko. And High Fly… Since Giacomo didn’t arrive until late, there weren’t really any assessments of him. I recall watching Closing Argument’s last workout, and though I had already long ago completely dismissed him, the way he seemed distracted and was looking around certainly did nothing to change my mind. After his work the other day, trainer McLaughlin specifically noted that he “kept a straighter path through the stretch than he had in his last work before the Kentucky Derby.” [DRF] is still posting daily Preakness notes, which seems to be the most detailed information available on the contenders. Giacomo worked a leisurely half in :51.80 (faster than they came home in the Derby!). You may recall that prior to the Derby, he had a blazing work of 6f in 1:11 and change. "I trained him very hard for the Derby, so I didn't want to do too much with him," Shirreffs said. [Bloodhorse] I’m not that familiar with Shirrefs, but I really like the way he’s conducted himself this week` - no I-told-ya-so’s, no indignation for the way his horse was dismissed before the Derby, and not even for the way he’s still being dismissed now. "I understand what the press is saying and some people are saying, I guess…..But, that being said, they were all in the gate, and Giacomo won the race." Can’t argue with that. He seems to be just going along for the ride.

High Fly worked a half in :50.20 ("That's all he needed after running a mile and a quarter two weeks ago”), and he was officially declared in. Wilko worked in :50.60 ("We were very pleased with the way he did it," Dollase said. "It looked like he picked it up the last part, and he finished well. He came out of it in great shape, too, and we're ready to go.")

- Historically, chances are that we won’t see an upset the same magnitude as the Derby.

In the history of the race, only three horses have won when facing odds of 20-1 or higher.

The biggest of those upsets was Master Derby in 1975 at 23-1. He was entered as a supplemental nomination, beat Derby winner Foolish Pleasure by a length, and then withstood an objection for interference. Master Derby had finished fourth in Louisville, Ky.

In the past 20 years, the Preakness favorite has finished first or second 15 times, and only three favorites finished out of the money. [Baltimore Sun]

- Mike Smith’s only other Triple Crown win was with Prairie Bayou in the 1993 Preakness. He subsequently broke down in the Belmont.

- Mike Bruckner of says of Giacomo that you’d think the gray son of Holy Bull ran to victory like a fat man with his pants around his ankles. But he delves a bit deeper into his performance:
According to the Daily Racing Form chart, he gained nearly 10 lengths on the leaders in the middle stages of the race, closing into what was still a very testing pace. Using the rough yardstick that every length is equal to about one-fifth of a second, that means Giacomo ran the middle quarter mile of the Derby in just a shade over 22 seconds, a scintillating time for any quarter mile in a route race.

In addition to the early burst, Giacomo had a wide trip that undoubtedly cost him a couple lengths and was subjected to the sort of bumping that virtually every competitor encounters in the moving melee that is the Kentucky Derby. []