Preakness Picks; Special Guest Edition

Written by: Stackin’ Green                                                                                                         Special Guest to: thederbypost.com

We’re back with another edition of handicapping tips for the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes.  The Kentucky Derby was exciting and proved once again that rules were made to be broken — especially when the young colts are as lightly raced as they are these days.  Animal Kingdom turned the jets on late into a soft pace to get Johnny Velazquez into the winner’s circle for the first time.  As a LIVE LONGSHOT, I was pleased with the many (including myself) that had him across the board and hopefully some were able to manipulate the numbers in the exotics.  I’ll be looking for another good year, as last year I had Lookin at Lucky as the Preakness winner after betting him through that brutal trip from the #1 post in the Derby.  It felt good sticking with him, vindicating myself and more importantly, cashing at the teller. 

A little history can go a long way at Pimlico. 23 of the last 46 winners of the Preakness were Derby winners.  Only 3 horses in the last 21 years won the race not having run in the Derby.  They were: Rachel Alexander, after skipping the Black Eyed Susan and opting to race the boys in 2009, Bernardini after the Barbaro breakdown in 2006 and Red Bullet in 2000. What does that tell us?  As I say every year, form is the most important thing in horse racing, and the Derby runners have a leg up given that they only run here if they generally run well in the Derby, substantiating their form and connections.  While it is true that potential is always on the radar for 3 year olds, only truly special horses come out of nowhere to take this race (Bernardini).  Also, keep an eye out for The Pimlico runners, as they often come out of nowhere as long shots in the race and finish in the money. Remember Icabad Crane? Midway Road? Scrappy T?  When filling underneath for exotics, it pays to take a look at the local runners.

Now, on to the field:

All signs point to a fresh horse in Animal Kingdom, who is looking very good working out on the Tapeta surface in Maryland.  Lightly raced and accustomed to most surfaces, the upside for Animal Kingdom remains, as he is in good form and has proven that he has the talent AND form.  Dialed In came home in the derby with a final quarter-mile time of 23.79, tops for all the horses. This can be looked at in two ways: 1) The pace wasn’t especially hot and track not that fast, allowing for a leisurely pace and his late firing to result in a relatively meaningless 8th place finish.  Or 2) you could look at it as a sign that he has plenty of gas left in the tank, form, and desire but just needs the right pace up front to cash that 500k bonus with a win at Pimlico.  More to the pace setup of the race in a second.  Mucho Macho Man, and for that matter, Animal Kingdom, came home quickly (just above 24-sec last quarter) and finished ahead of Dialed In.  The June foal looks to be improving at the right time and with more and more experience he will be a force to reckon with.  The LIVE LONGSHOT in the race is Dance City, ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Todd Pletcher, who had a gritty effort in the Arkansas Derby (3rd behind Archarcharch and Nehro) but sat out the Kentucky Derby.  He is also a late (May) foal and is lightly raced.  If in solid position on the lead and therefore more likely for a clean trip, he might display talent that we may not have seen yet.  The local runner Concealed Identity is 2 for 2 over the strip at Pimlico, working well and looks very good moving ahead from his win in the Federico Tesio Stakes on May 7 at Pimlico.  He cannot be overlooked for a possible in the money finish, especially when creating exotic tickets.  The only other horse that I think has a shot in the race, but less likely in the winner’s circle, is Astrology, son of A.P. Indy who is looking to make his daddy proud, much like Bernardini did 5 years ago at this time.

Now, Back to the Pace:

I see the race unfolding with the speed horses, Flashpoint, Shackleford, Dance City and possibly Norman Asbjornson taking the early lead.  Shackleford is a horse I have a lot of respect for but hear that he did not come out of the Derby well and the thought here is that he won’t handle the pressure scenario yet again; I must admit he has run his heart out in the Florida Derby and at Churchill Downs, however.  I see relatively fast fractions up top with these and due to his unknown potential and a potential ground saving trip, I can see Dance City holding on late to see if the top Derby horses can run him down.  Animal Kingdom and Mucho Macho Man will press and their posts are well suited for their style of running and progression into the turns.  Dialed In will take back once again, but is hoping for ¼ more along the lines of :23 and ½ in :47 so he can chomp at the bit and make a run (don’t wait too long, Julien!) when the race starts to break down at the ¼ mile pole. I’m going to stay away from Sway Away.  I loved Afleet Alex but he hasn’t done much as a sire.  I think Mr. Commons is a complete unknown that could get me but at post 14 and lack of experience I’ll take my shots.  Plus, you gotta take a stance!

Recommendations

• At 2:1 odds or better, bet Animal Kingdom across the board, pretty heavy (if you are conservative take the easy money and bet him to show)

• TRIFECTA BOX – 8 Dance City, 9 Mucho Macho Man, 10 Dialed In, 11 Animal Kingdom

• EXACTA BOX – 9 Mucho Macho Man, 10 Dialed In, 11 Animal Kingdom

• EXACTA BOX – 8 Dance City, 9 Mucho Macho Man, 11 Animal Kingdom

I have big superfecta ideas and will play the super high 5 bet, as well as the pick 4 and pick 5 on the Pimlico card. Inquire within if you wish, but these bets are too big to post and take too much time for me to just give away.

Summary:

  • Animal Kingdom
  • Dialed In
  • Mucho Macho Man
  • Dance City
  • Concealed Identity
  • Astrology

See you at Belmont Park! Odds are we’ll have an unlikely shot at the Triple Crown … but for now, Let’s CA$H!

Written by: Stackin’ Green

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