Preakness 2017: New Shooters or Kentucky Derby Horses?

May 17, 2017 09:01am

Like every year, a lot of the Preakness 2017 dialogue has focused on the new shooters; horses like Conquest Mo Money and Cloud Computing; and whether they have a chance to defeat the Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming.

A field of ten or eleven horses is now anticipated for this the 142nd running of the Preakness, pretty well evenly divided between horses new to the Triple Crown series and those that ran in the Derby. However, the results from the Preakness since the year 2000 are rather interesting.

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The last new shooter to win the Preakness was Bernardini in 2006, at odds of 12.90-1 when Barbaro broke down at the start of the race. Before that, it was Red Bullet at 6.20-1 in 2000, and that year the Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus was second best. That is only two new shooters in the past 17 years to find the winner’s circle, but when they do, the odds are usually very good because the Derby winner is a big favorite.

As disappointing as the win results are for the new shooters, their presence in the exacta and trifecta is far more interesting. In the money statistics show a record of 17: 2-8-2 for the best finish of a new shooter in the Preakness, that’s a percentage of 70.5%. In three of those years, new shooters accounted for two of the top three finishers.

No matter how you try and spin the statistics, the Kentucky Derby horses have dominated the Preakness. Since 2000, of the 15 who have backed up their success at Churchill Downs with a victory in Pimlico’s signature event, there were seven Derby winners and one Kentucky Oaks winner. In addition, on nine different occasions the Derby horses have dominated the race. Five times they won the entire trifecta. In 2013 led by Oxbow, the Derby horses finished first through fifth. In 2005 Afleet Alex led the charge as Triple Crown experience was key since those horses took the top six out of seven places.

The past two years a new shooter finished second at very big odds. Last year it was Cherry Wine at odds of 17.30-1 and the year before it was Tale of Verve at 28.50-1. The $2 Exaggerator-Cherry Wine exacta paid $88.40 and the 2015 American Pharoah-Tale of Verve exacta returned $124.40. That year when new shooter Divining Rod got third place, the $2 trifecta yielded $985.

Of the 15 new shooters who have hit the board six made their last start before the Preakness at Keeneland, six at Aqueduct, two had the home course advantage of Pimlico, and one was from Santa Anita. Of these horses all but two of them were at double-digit odds with Magic Weisner leading the way at 45.70-1.

With the injury to Royal Mo the other day, the chances for this group of new shooters took a very big hit. Conquest Mo Money and Cloud Computing have the best resumes with top three placings on the Kentucky Derby Trail and the best speed figures. Multiplier, Term of Art, and Senior Investment like to run from well off the pace and this could set them up to make a run for a top three finish, but all three of them have not had success against the best three-year-olds. Lancaster Bomber, who was last seen in America running second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, is a possible starter for Aidan O'Brien.

Conquest Mo Money did have enough points to get into the Derby field, but was not nominated for the Triple Crown. His owners passed on the supplemental nomination for the Run for the Roses to give their horse more time to prepare for Baltimore. He is the most likely new shooter to contest the second jewel.

However, history is not on the side of the new shooters winning the Preakness, so I do not see a member of the Class of 2017 becoming the first non-Derby horse to win in 11 years. I give them an outside chance to hit the board, although I really feel that the Triple Crown veterans will sweep the Preakness trifecta this year.


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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