Our analysis of the
winning Kentucky Derby running style was spot on when we saw that the Derby was
not a race for front-runners, but was instead, a race that favored horses
coming off the pace. That is exactly what happened at Churchill Downs when Orb swept past the field from 20
What kind of running style
has been best in the Preakness, with
its much smaller field that fits into one starting gate? Clearly horses do not
fall as far behind and jockeys do not have to worry much about bad trips caused
by a less than clean break from the gate, or traffic from tired horses.
Again looking at the
running line of the Preakness winners, since the year 2000, reveals that only
one horse has won the second leg of the Triple Crown on the lead, from gate to
wire and that was the 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra. Shackleford and War Emblem won this race by very
closely prompting and pushing the early pace setter.
In the Preakness, the most
successful running style is that of the stalker. Six of the past 13 winners
came from a handful of lengths behind to gain their victory. Five of them had
taken control of the race at the stretch call. Last year I’ll Have Another came
from just a few lengths off the pace to win by a neck near the wire.
Curlin and Point Given
were the only deep closers. While
Red Bullet and Afleet Alex had the running style of a closer, both were far
behind but not more than 10 lengths.
As much as people like to
say that the Preakness is a race for early speed, it simply is not true. When you are
handicapping this year’s Preakness, think about the potential front-runners who
are unlikely to win the race. In that category I see: Oxbow, Goldencents,
Itsmyluckyday, Govenor Charlie, and Titletown Five.
Try and identify which
horses are going to be best suited to sit behind the pace and rally to victory.
The horses with the ideal running styles are: Will Take Charge, Departing, Mylute,
The most versatile horse
in the field is Orb. We know that the Derby winner can be a deep closer, but Orb
also won the Florida Derby from only four lengths behind. He has too much
talent and experience and he knows how to get to the finish line first. My pick
is for Orb to win in Baltimore, and bring the racing world to New York, in quest of
the elusive Triple Crown.