When the field enters the starting gate for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, there will be one entrant a little different than the rest. No, I am not talking about the Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, but rather the lone filly joining the boys. Ria Antonia will become the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won racing’s Middle Jewel in 2009. While I would love to see a filly in this year’s Preakness … Ria Antonia is decidedly the wrong one.
In the Kentucky Oaks, run 15 days before the Preakness, Untapable was confidently made an overwhelming favorite at odds of even money in the field of 12. Meanwhile, Ria Antonia was respected, but only to the point of being the 10-1 fourth choice. The money was right, as the pair pretty much ran to their respective odds. Ria Antonia raced a bit wide, made a move on the far turn, but did not have much left for the stretch drive. She faded to 6th, beaten better than 15 lengths by the easy winner. That easy winner, of course, was Untapable.
Doing what she had done all year, Untapable looked like a woman against girls. Ridden with supreme confidence by Rosie Napravnik, the daughter of Tapit was comfortably parked within striking distance for the first seven furlongs or so, before pouncing as the field entered the stretch. She proved much the best from there, and cruised home to a popular 4 ½ length score.
On top of her dominant wins in the Rachel Alexandra and Fair Grounds Oaks earlier in the season, there can be little doubt that Untapable is the cream of the three-year old filly crop. It would seem that she is ready for new worlds to conquer.
The Preakness would also seem like an excellent spot to take that shot. Races don’t get much bigger than the Middle Jewel, and at 1 3/16 miles, and with many of the top Kentucky Derby horses, besides California Chrome, sitting this one out, she would rate a big shot, in my estimation. Some may say that it would be too much too soon, but with only three races so far this year, I cannot imagine that a 15 day rest would be too quick a turnaround for a filly obviously thriving right now.
It’s not to be, though, as her connections say no. They would prefer to take a more conservative approach, and that’s fine … she is their filly afterall. That leaves us instead with Ria Antonia for the Preakness. A filly who is 0-for-3 this year, is on her third trainer in 2014, and is likely only in there to give her owners a thrill in the post parade. I think she would have a real shot in the Black-Eyed Susan, but in the Preakness, I only see discouragement in her immediate future. Right race - Wrong filly.