The racing world shifts focus this weekend from the blue grass hills of Kentucky to the harbor ports of Baltimore, Maryland. Named after Lord Baltimore, a member of the Irish House of Lords, the city has set the stage for many great scenes. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics from a ship as American forces held of the British during the War of 1812. HBO’s The Wire tackled the war on drugs in inner cities and corruption within politics for five outstanding seasons. Cal Ripken, Jr. eclipsed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played on his way to a hall of fame career. And every third Saturday in May, Pimlico Race Track hosts the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the famous Triple Crown.
The first Preakness was held on May 27, 1873, a full two years before the Kentucky Derby. It drew seven starters and was won by Survivor over 1 1/2 miles. The race was run at this distance until 1889 (1 1/4 miles) and again in 1890. From 1891 through 1893 the Preakness was not held ending its consecutive streak. But despite the short break, the Preakness returned in 1894 and has run ever since. The distance of 1 3/16 miles was installed in 1925 as Coventry took the Preakness and the blanket of Black Eyed Susans.
Although the Preakness may not be as distinguished as the Kentucky Derby, it is still a classic race and part of the Triple Crown series. It boasts its own traditions and excites racing fans each year. And this year is no different. At 2-1 odds, Animal Kingdom has the opportunity to win the Preakness and head to New York as a Triple Crown contender. 13 starters stand in his way along the tight turns at Pimlico and with a strong post position, Animal Kingdom looks poised to defend his derby crown.
$1,000,000 Preakness Stakes (gr. I, Race 12, 6:18 p.m.), 3YO, 1 3/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Astrology (KY), M E Smith, 126, S M Asmussen, 15/1
2. Norman Asbjornson (PA), J Pimentel, 126, C W Grove, 30/1
3. King Congie (KY), R Albarado, 126, T Albertrani, 20/1
4. Flashpoint (FL), C H Velasquez, 126, W A Ward, 20/1
5. Shackleford (KY), J L Castanon, 126, D L Romans, 12/1
6. Sway Away (KY), G K Gomez, 126, J Bonde, 15/1
7. Midnight Interlude (KY), M Garcia, 126, B Baffert, 15/1
8. Dance City (VA), R A Dominguez, 126, T A Pletcher, 12/1
9 . Mucho Macho Man (FL), R Maragh, 126, K Ritvo, 6/1
10. Dialed In (KY), J R Leparoux, 126, N P Zito, 9/2
11. Animal Kingdom (KY), J R Velazquez, 126, H G Motion, 2/1
12. Isn’t He Perfect (KY), E S Prado, 126, D Shivmangal, 30/1
13. Concealed Identity (MD), S Russell, 126, E D Gaudet, 30/1
14. Mr. Commons (KY), V Espinoza, 126, J A Shirreffs, 20/1
Pace could be a deciding factor in tomorrow’s race. The derby front runners turned in slow fractions that ultimately set up a strong finish for Animal Kingdom and killed the chances for late runners such as Dialed In. Derby returners have fared well (Lookin At Lucky won after finishing 6th in the derby last year) as have fresh horses entering in (Rachel Alexandra was the last in 2009). I expect the pace to be a little faster than the derby and as they hit the final stretch, it could be anyone’s race to win.
I haven’t fared well in the Preakness in years past with only one winner, Point Given (2001). Although I liked Louis Quatorze in 1996, Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, and Curlin in 2007, I never pulled the trigger denying what my gut told me. This year, I’m sticking with my gut and with the horse that brought me to the dance, Dialed In. I think with faster fractions, he can sit back and put in a monster effort matching or besting his last half mile of :47 in the derby. I think Animal Kingdom will run big, but fall in the final strides to Julien Leparoux and his awesome colt Dialed In.
Good luck to all racing connections, bettors, and fans. Grab you racing forms and listen for “Maryland, My Maryland.” Enjoy some crab cakes and a black eyed susan. We’re headed east for the last two legs of the Triple Crown. It’s Preakness weekend. It’s a great day for racing.
Written by Big Brink