The Morning Line: Preakness Stakes

Odds Favor Bode Over I’ll Have Another

The majority of racing fans are pulling for a Triple Crown. The City of Baltimore seems to be locked in with the Kentucky Derby winner. The general public would love to see a name like this carry its legacy on to the final leg where New York City will be waiting with open arms. But the odds maker has spoken and Bodemeister is your Morning Line Favorite once again. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another is stalking close behind. Oddly enough this story is setting up to be a precursor to the race itself, round two between the front vs. the stalker. Buckle up race fans, this one could get interesting.

Click Here for the 2012 Preakness Stakes ML Odds and Post Positions   

If it’s because of anything outside of the distance and the pace that persuaded Pimlico odds maker Frank Carulli to give Bodemeister the edge than there’s something that all of us are missing. Granted Bob Baffert has enjoyed an outstanding amount of success in the Preakness Stakes, 5 career wins, but when the race is broken down according to horses and not connections there is no other logical reason.

To sum up Bodemeister as the favorite – the Preakness is 1 3/16 Mile and looks to be cleared of any potential pace setting rabbits. The infamous rabbit out of front is a horse like Bodemeister’s worst enemy. In his past two races he’s shown that he likes to be on the lead but when you compare the Arkansas Derby to the Kentucky Derby the difference between them has something to do with this enemy.

Arkansas Derby: 1 1/8 Mile – 23.02, 46.55, 1:11.36
Kentucky Derby: 1 ¼ Mile – 22.32, 45.39, 1:09.80

Now the Arkansas Derby was only a Kentucky Derby Prep but this should emphasize why one proved to be more fruitful than the other. In Hot Springs, Bodemeister was in control of the pace without the likes of rival pace setters like Trinniberg and Hansen. Because they were in the Kentucky Derby is what led to the lighting fast fractions out front. Ultimately it’s what may have also led to Bodemeister being unable to fend off the deep stretch bid by I’ll Have Another.

But I’ll Have Another did run him down in impressive fashion. The kicker to this however is that despite his remarkable bid to the wire, the odds maker is pulling his ability to close so well at the Preakness distance into the equation. That remains the lingering question about I’ll Have Another. Can he and will he stalk closer to the pace and if so, can he still get by Bodemeister after slower fractions than the Kentucky Derby?

If we’re rewinding to I’ll Have Another’s win in the Robert B. Lewis then the answer is yes. In that race he stayed in 2nd place behind fractions pretty similar to the ones set by Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby: 23.03, 46.77 and 1:10.52. The only difference is that the pace setter didn’t run away with the win. Instead, I’ll Have Another waited patiently before making his move to put the field away with relative ease.

The catch is that this does not predict the outcome but recaps how likely it is that both can win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Before this becomes a two-horse race however, the first and second choices will have to eliminate the field. The task is not a given in large part because the other 9 horses are still capable of racing on their level. In fact, let’s not dismiss a horse that has already beat Bodemeister.

Creative Cause has had a very interesting road to the Preakness Stakes. The consensus leading West Coast contender for the Kentucky Derby went from flexing his strength down the stretch to beat Bode in the San Felipe to giving way after snatching the lead from I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby. From there it was off to Kentucky where he still had a very respectable chance. It just wasn’t his day as he broke further back than expected and failed to make a move through the traffic. A 5th place finish was a disappointment but trainer Mike Harrington doesn’t seem like he would log this many miles in the air with his colt unless he felt that he was ready to race at top-level. So he’s back but one can only go two ways with him – betting that he’s ready to rebound or not yet.

Another Kentucky Derby horse that has been picking up interest behind a very confident trainer is Went The Day Well. Graham Motion is back at Pimlico and hoping that 2012 is a little kinder to him than 2011 when his Kentucky Derby winner had his triple crown chances unravel earlier than anticipated. It was close, gut wrenching close. 2nd place by less than a length is a hard pill to swallow when you’re the Kentucky Derby champ but Graham Motion did it with class and now he’s back looking to settle the score with the same owner and jockey too. Went The Day Well failed to pull off an improbable come from behind win in the Kentucky Derby but came up short and finished 4th. He’s won from closer to the lead in the past so look for John Velazquez to keep him in close stalking position before trying to lay it on thick deep into the stretch.

I’m not real sure what to make of Daddy Nose Best and his performance in the Kentucky Derby. Dubbed as the Wise Guy Pick of the field he didn’t do much outside of remaining near the position in which he broke. Actually he finished in the same position as his post – 10th. Maybe the distance and the size of the field didn’t fit his liking but one thing he does like returns for the Preakness Stakes. From his 3rd career race up until the Derby he only had one jockey but now that Union Rags will not race, Julien Leparoux returns to the irons. 8 previous mounts means he knows this horse pretty well and is best suited to get him back on track.

As for the remainder of the field it’s more their race to win than anyone’s to lose. There is a host of very capable contenders but they will not be dealt any favors. If they’re going to dispel the odds then they will have to be ready to race at a very top-level. In my opinion it’s possible of course but I’m not probable for taking them. Instead, it’s likely that I’m sticking with the Kentucky Derby winner because just like the first Saturday in May, the favorite will be so short I’m going to have to try to beat him. Depending on the odds it’s also possible that Went The Day Well may see some action.

Good luck to all of our Preakness Stakes entries and their connections. Baltimore is a great host and we look forward to another exciting duel all the way down to the wire. Cheers!

Written by: Little Brink


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