Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Back by popular demand, I offer my thoughts on each horse running for the Middle Jewel of racing's Triple Crown. After a profitable Kentucky Derby weekend, I hope to parlay some of those winnings into more excitement and thrills (and hopefully some big money) at Pimlico. Here they are, the ones I like, fear, and don't like in the 2011 Preakness, including a surprising selection to win the whole thing.
My Top Selection
Good looking son of Artie Schiller is getting better with every start, has been freshened since the Santa Anita, and is working up a storm under the patient handling of John Shirreffs. Look for him to make a quick burst from the middle of the pack to light-up the Pimlico tote board.
The Colts He has to Beat
My Derby long shot proved he could handle dirt with a very strong final half mile to grab the glory. A repeat of that performance signals him as the horse to beat, and sends him to New York with a real shot to become the 12th immortal American thoroughbred.
8th place finish at Churchill wa a major disappointment to some, but the Derby pace was no bueno for Zito's charge. I expect more pace in Baltimore, which should give him a major shot to go from last to first, but Leparoux obviously needs to have him involved a bit sooner than last time.
I believe this long-legged colt with the June birthday has still not put everything together on the track. After seeing how well he came home in the Derby, that is pretty scary. He may sit a prefferrable stalking trip from the outside and be impossible to run down.
I am liking this one more and more. In his last two races he proved himself full of heart and courage. Further improvement by the lightly raced colt could leave him as the horse they all have to catch turning for home. I love his maternal side pedigree for getting the Preakness distance.
Dark Horse Special
Call me crazy, but I just have a feeling about this one. On paper he does not quite match-up with the heavy hitters in here, but like his sire, this one may be coming into himself at the right time. Trainer Grove knows how to win in Maryland, but I see him more as a high odds threat to hit the triple.
I Won’t Bet them, but they make me very Nervous
This one has always been a bit of an enigma to me. I know the talent is there, but he has yet to prove he can win a big one. He was unceremoniously eft out of the Derby, so a big performance would be sweet retribution, but I can't help but to think he is better at a shorter distance.
His Florida Derby was solid, as was his Kentucky Derby, so why don't I like this one more? I suspect that the faster pace at Pimlico might make things a little tougher on him, and I prefer Dance City as the one to make that initial strike on the speedy Flashpoint.
I know he is better than his poor performance in the Kentucky Derby, but I still can't quite fully board his wagon. He will be trying to pull a Louis Quatorze on Saturday, and while not out of the question, I believe this all may be a bit too much too soon for the son of War Chant.
The wise guy horse of many will probably be bet more than I believe he deserves in the Preakness. I respect his talent, his two races so far in 2011, and I love his breeding, but I believe Saturday will help prove that he is just a cut below the best of this crop.
I Won’t Bet them, but they make me slightly Nervous
Guadet charge has been sharp since arriving at Pimlico this spring, and I actually had a hard time separating him and Norman as my bomber to fill the exotics. In the end, I decided he had a little less in the class department.
He should flaunt speed to burn in the Preakness, but it is that very speed that I believe that will ultimately burn him out as the real running begins at the quarter pole. Look for him sprinting this summer at Saratoga.
If the Preakness was on grass, this guy would be one of my top picks. Of course it is not, so I just cannot recommend him on Saturday. Having said that, he appears to be one of the more promising young turf horses in the nation.
If He Wins, I’m just plain wrong
No … he is not perfect.