The biggest single story heading into the Preakness on Saturday is the filly, Rachel Alexandra. She’s the first filly since 1999 to run in the race, and only the third since the start of World War II. No filly has won since 1924. She was sold last week, reportedly for as much as $10 million, and her new owners have paid $100,000 to make her eligible for this race because she wasn’t previously nominated for the Triple Crown. She has been installed as the strong 8/5 favorite in the 13 horse field, and I expect that price to be even lower by post time. You have to be certain that there is real value if you are going to bet on a horse with odds that low, so the biggest puzzle to address between now and post time is whether or not this filly is for real. That’s for every bettor to decide for themselves, but here’s a look at the arguments in her favor, and those that go against her:
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The Preakness entries have been received, and the odds and post positions will be set later on this afternoon. There are 13 entries, including headliners Mine That Bird, Pioneerof The Nile, Friesan Fire, and of course the filly Rachel Alexandra. It’s all but certain that Rachel Alexandra will be made the favorite. Now it just remains to be seen how much of a favorite she is. There’s a chance that she will go off at even money or better by post time. I think shes a special horse, but that would be ridiculous. We’ll look at the race more closely tomorrow and Friday.
I got slapped around by karma again. I talked yesterday about how the Rockets were doomed, so they promptly went out and smacked the Lakers around. Brutal. Bizarre.
Tiger Woods looked nothing like Tiger Woods today. So, so strange to see him play like that in the last group.
Interesting little note for horseplayers coming out of Belmont Park. The field was set today for Saturday’s Peter Pan Stakes, a Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles that has become a well-used prep race for future Belmont Stakes runners. It’s a pretty solid seven horse field. There’s a horse entered named Scorewithcater, a New Mexico based runner. Normally,he probably wouldn’t get much attention – New Mexico based horses never do. This horse has one interesting distinction, though – he has beaten the Kentucky Derby winner in each of his last two outings. He outdueled Mine That Bird down the stretch in the Borderland Stakes, and then he finished third, one spot ahead of Mine That Bird, in the Sunland Derby. Given the shock that Mine That Bird pulled, Scorewithcater will almost certainly get more attention from bettors than he likely deserves. The puzzle will be to figure out if whatever happened to Mine That Bird between his time in New Mexico and the Derby is contagious, and whether this horse caught it.
I am getting ready to head to the airport and leave Louisville, and I’m still not sure what I saw yesterday. Our seats were at the 1/8 pole yesterday. As the horses got to us, Pioneerof The Nile, my choice, was in the lead and looking good. I was counting my winnings. But then I saw the flash moving up the rail. I had no idea who it was, but I knew the horse was moving fast. Very fast. I just didn’t think they would be able to get through the tiny hole that was barely there. If I’d known that it was Calvin Borel skimming the rail then I wouldn’t have been so confident in my horse. The guy is a machine, and he piloted the most unlikely possible Derby winner.
The last time I was at the Kentucky Derby it was 1996, and Grindstone won. There were 19 horses in the field that year. Through different permutations and combinations I had 15 different horses covered with betting tickets. Grindstone, despite being 6/1, was not one of them. My point is that you will want to take my Derby predictions with a grain of salt. That being said, here are the three horses I am planning to play this year (assuming they make the field – it hasn’t been set as I write this):
I’m 33 years old, so my first Kentucky Derby was the 1976 version won by Bold Forbes. I obviously don’t remember that one, though. Nor, sadly, do I remember the Triple Crown wins in 1977 and 1978 by Seattle Slew and Affirmed. The first Derby I do clearly remember watching isGato Del Sol in 1982, and it was with Ferdinand’s win in 1986 that I fell truly and deeply in love with the race. Every Derby since then has its’ own sets of memories and attachments, but some have obviously meant more than others. On the eve of a race that I hope will one day top this list, here, in no particular order, is a look at my five favorite Derby races:
I don’t necessarily have a good sense of who is going to win the Kentucky Derby, but I feel pretty confident about ruling out some horses that aren’t going to win it. It’s not certain that these horses will end up in the race, but they are being pointed towards it as I write this. They are all fine horses, but for one reason or another I just don’t see them winning it all.
If you are only going to take a bit of time getting ready for the Kentucky Derby then you’ll want to get to know these five names. There is a pretty good chance that one of these five horses is going to be wearing roses late Saturday afternoon.
Pioneerof The Nile
If you follow the Kentucky Derby at all this year then you are going to hear a lot about synthetic tracks and the effect they will have on the Derby. It’s a big issue, but not one that is easy to comprehend if you aren’t familiar with the basics. This will help.