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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Preakness Notes

- It's been frustrating this week in that there are no Racing Form past performances available for the Preakness. They had free pp's for the Derby probables up for quite some time before the post position draw, but the Preakness gets no respect. So we have to wait until this evening. Hard to handicap the race when you can't see all the horses together.

Of course, we all know who the likely winner is. However, Ray Kerrison reports in the NY Post today that one figure maker is expressing concern. Like Len Ragozin's sheets, Thoro-graph calculates that Big Brown ran a phenomenal race given his ground loss and the wind. In fact, Jerry Brown calls it "by far the best Derby of all time." And he issues a warning that none of us want to hear.

"And that might be the problem. When he goes in the Preakness, Big Brown will be at risk, the same kind of risk Barbaro faced."

Brown said both horses will have gone to the Preakness only two weeks after running their fastest races ever, on top of a thin foundation of only a few races.

"That places them in jeopardy," said Brown. "I'm not for a minute implying that Big Brown will break down in the Preakness, as Barbaro did, but when horses run very fast at the highest level on short rest, they are under great stress." [NY Post]
Brown likes three horses if "Big Brown collapses" (I imagine he may regret that particular phrasing) - Behindatthebar, Kentucky Bear, and, especially, Hey Byrn. "He rebounded to win the Holy Bull. He ran four times in nine weeks and now has had a little rest."

In case you've missed it, Dutrow is writing a column for the Post, and his early concern along the lines of what Brown is saying seems to have given way to bravado. He wrote of Gayego :
They say he had a bad trip. I think he just got outrun - and it's going to happen again. That horse ran terrible in the Derby, flew back to California, now he's flying east again. That's enough for me to know. They're just completely putting him up against it.
- Steve Crist wrote the other day about how odds on favorites haven't done so well in the Preakness. But the overall stats on favorites are daunting. Post-time favorites have captured 68 of 133 runnings of the middle jewel of Triple Crown, a race run in two divisions in 1918. [AP] That's over 50%, well above the rule-of-thumb 33% rate that we expect to see favorites win.

- You may be happy to know that Pimlico is taking steps to protect the portable bathrooms in the infield.
Preakness officials say that, in an attempt to thwart a repeat of last year's impromptu event -- in which inebriated people raced across the rooftops of a long row of portable toilets while fellow revelers pelted them with open cans of beer -- the portable units at Pimlico this year have been arranged in smaller groups with more space between them. [Baltimore Sun]
So we won't see any of this.

I dunno, made me laugh, I must admit. I'm sure they'll find some other way to amuse themselves. As long as they don't throw their beer cans at the horses.


Anonymous said...

730 pm, over an hour after the draw, entries nowhere to be found on

Embarassing, they were also the last place to post the Oaks Derby will pays.

Big Brown has post seven if anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

There is a simlar video from the 2007 derby showing someone taking a bad spill, and the comments indicated he was carried off on a back board and may have been paralyzed.

Sure their concern rests more with liability.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there will be many beer cans to throw this time, Alan, as Pimlico management has announced that for the first time coolers will be disallowed and fans will have to pay the going track prices for their beer.

Sunny Jim

Anonymous said...

I retract my 733, the entries were up at drf, albeit hidden in the link to purchase pp's.

ballyfager said...

Mr. Brown is a little tin god on his website. Away from that website he's just another fallible horseplayer.

The Derby offers a good opportunity to look at what he does. Big Brown was wide, no question. How wide? And how important is it that he was wide? Or, to put it another way, how do you quantify his wideness? Then there's the question of a headwind to throw into the mix. All of this is a matter of OPINION, not fact. Yet Brown (and Beyer) represent that this can be reduced to a number and that that number has meaning.

Big Brown was given a Beyer of 109. What does this mean? It only has meaning to the guys who know how it was arrived at. Its validity, or lack of same, won't be apparent until after these horses have run more races. The Preakness is Saturday. It won't wait.

If you're a beginner, or a dilettante, using a self-appointed expert's numbers has its place. But, if you hope to be any good at this game, you have to figure it out for yourself. Brown and Beyer know this, whether they will admit it or not.

I think that the fact that their numbers are for sale, and in Beyer's case, for the price of a DRF, should give anyone pause.