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Friday, May 16, 2008

Big Preakness [with update]

- - As I mentioned, I did a horse-by-horse analysis for another site, and will link over to that once it's up...unless they reject it! Basically, I picked Big Brown to win, Big Surprise there. It seems pretty clear to me that he ran a Derby of historic proportions, both in terms of overcoming his lack of seasoning (a phrase we may not hear much in Derbys to come), and, at least according to the Sheets guys, time as well. We can quibble over those numbers to a certain extent, and make our own mental adjustments to his Beyer to factor in the ground loss and wind. But any way you look at it, I think you'll likely agree that it was a phenomenal race.

I think that Dutrow's demeanor, which has progressed steadily from concern immediately following the Derby to brash confidence, is meaningful here, as he doesn't seem like the type of guy to keep his true emotions to himself. There's a lot of talk about Big Brown bouncing, or at least regressing, but, watching the Derby again, it doesn't present itself to me as a race that was all that taxing; he made it look rather easy. So maybe it was, for him. Against a field that's even weaker than that in the Derby, he may not regress much at all in my opinion, at least not visually. So I think he'll dominate as he should, and it would be quite a shocking development should he lose.

As far as betting the race, my thinking is that the first tier of horses on or near the lead - the ones that will be in direct contact with the favorite - are going to end up being far worse for the experience when they're coming home. So I'm looking for horses such as Behindatthebar (scratched, see below), Yankee Bravo, Racecar Rhapsody, and maybe even Icabad Crane, to show up late and pick up the pieces for the minor awards.

I don't get all the buzz about Kentucky Bear to be honest. Finishing behind Monba and Cowboy Cal doesn't seem so flattering now. And forget that 9 wide stuff from his running line - maybe he ended up there by the end, but he saved all ground on the first turn, and swung no more than 3-4 wide turning for home. He also had trouble switching leads in the stretch (as pointed out to me by Discreet Cat). I also don't really care for Gayego given all his cross country traveling, his bad post, and a very poor effort in the Derby that hasn't been explained away to my satisfaction. I figure that if I can successfully leave those two out (I think that they, along with Behindatthebar will be the 2nd to 4th choices), then maybe I can make a few bucks in the exotics, we'll see.

[UPDATE: Behindatthebar is out with a bruised foot. He was a tough one to handicap in this race in my opinion, since his only dirt race was his only disappointing one. He would have been far back early, so his being scratched won't change the way the race is run, except to give the outside horses some minor relief - they'll move in one stall.]

- I had to laugh at Bill Finley's column on yesterday (and not because the five horses he likes for the exotics - Macho Again, Tres Borrachos, Kentucky Bear, Riley Tucker, and Giant Moon - won't appear on my tickets). Finley has already moved on to the Belmont, which he says Big Brown will not win. And of course, he focuses on Casino Drive, writing: "Everything about him says that he will be ready to run the race of his life in the Belmont."

Race of his life?? He's only run twice! I'll have mixed feelings as to rooting for or against Big Brown should he have a chance at the Triple Crown three weeks hence. But I'll definitely be rooting against Casino Drive. His winning the Belmont would just make a mockery of this entire exercise! Even Big Brown's Derby win makes me wonder why we should spend time reading Haskin Derby columns in January anymore. What did the months of agonizing over every prep and quasi-prep end up doing for us? Not much of anything, I say. The Derby Trail was really more of a cul-de-sac this year. Whether that's just the product of a poor three-year old crop in this particular year, or the sign of things to come, I can't say. But why would any owner with a colt he or she thinks is supremely talented bother much with prep races after what we've seen this year, especially if Casino Drive wins?


Teresa said...

Behindatthebar is out.

Alan Mann said...

Thanks. Doesn't really change much given that he would have been far back early.

El Angelo said...

I'll wager right now that Kentucky Bear goes off at 10-1 or less.

Alan Mann said...

>>I'll wager right now that Kentucky Bear goes off at 10-1 or less.

Nah, I don't want to take that bet, not with the buzz this horse has had, and with scratch. He was almost favored in the FOY off of just one race! What did they think, that he was Casino Drive?

Patrick J Patten said...

thanks for picking big brown, I can now back wheel him w/ confidence.

SaratogaSpa said...

got to agree with you-hard to find any reason to bet on any other horse in this race. Regarding the preps, it seems so long ago following 2 year old prep races with horses like War Pass, Maimomonidies, and Majestic Warrior. What does all those 2 year races at Saratoga mean after all.

Alan Mann said...

>>thanks for picking big brown, I can now back wheel him w/ confidence.

Least I can do in exchange for you giving me two throwouts in the Special today.

steve in nc said...

"Even Big Brown's Derby win makes me wonder why we should spend time reading Haskin Derby columns in January anymore."

Oh, has he been writing those?

Overhandicapping is one of those seven sinny sin sins. (Right after continuing to use the same inaudible jockey-mike for a third time without fixing the problem.)

Even if I wanted to handicap via columnists, being as chronically sleep deprived as I am, I'd never make it through Haskins. Dick Jerardi and this guy Alan Mann, sure.

But with Haskins, it would be a losing superfecta box: Z Humor, Z Fortune, Zteve Haskins, and Steve in Nzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Anonymous said...

I'll be rooting for Casino Drive in the Belmont because Big Brown is just another over-hyped media creation of headline hungry reporters and the KY breeding industry. If Big Brown can't beat all comers in the Belmont, i.e., open company, then he is not a Triple Crown winner. When we have another Affirmed vs Alydar Triple Crown duel is when I'll be rooting for a Triple Crown winner again. Stop trying to sell me mediocrity as excellence./S/Green Mtn Punter