Brian Nadeau of Horseplayer Now returns with his analysis of today’s Preakness Stakes…
Pimlico: The Grade I, $1 million Preakness at 1 3/16 miles
#1 Tiger Walk (30-1): Underrated sort quietly ran big in Aqueduct’s GI Wood last time out while finishing fourth in a breakthrough run and will add blinkers today to coax a bit more speed early on. Figures to set up shop in midpack and make a run off the far turn, and with a ground-saving post, he could sit a nice trip; not the worst exotics bomb in the world.
#2 Teeth Of The Dog (15-1): Exits a fine third in the Wood and it’s worth noting that he looked absolutely tremendous in the post parade that day, so he’s clearly a big-time talent. Passed on Belmont’s GII Peter Pan last weekend to run here, but it was more the owner’s decision than trainer Matz’s, so that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. One of very few in here with a tactical gear, which means he should be in the right spot off the turn and have every chance to make a big splash; expecting him to run in the number.
#3 Pretension (30-1): Upset winner of the local Canonero II has never been better but is taking on by far the saltiest crew he’s ever faced, so a neck win in a minor stakes isn’t scaring anyone today. Raced up close last time but figures to be more of a stalker today and it’s hard to envision him making much of a dent late; longshot.
#4 Zetterholm (20-1): NY-bred has quietly had a nice year and owns a strong closing kick on his day, though he’s never run in a graded race, let alone against the best members of his generation, so he’s got to step up today. It’s worth noting Dutrow brought state-bred Yawanna Twist here a few years back and he ran a big fourth, so there’s a bit of history in this corner, though anything but a minor award seems out of reach; midpack finish likely.
#5 Went The Day Well (6-1): Motion colt exits a nightmare trip in the Derby yet still closed stoutly late to finish fourth, so who knows where he lands with a clear run. Added blinkers in Louisville but blew the break, so expecting he’s much, much closer today, which puts him in an enviable spot off the far turn. Exited a six-week break between his GIII Spiral win and the Derby, so he’s a fresh horse today, which is more than the rest can say, and with the hope of a clean trip he should be right there; gets the call to post the upset.
#6 Creative Cause (6-1): GI winner was rumored to be off-form Derby Week, yet there he was giving them all a big scare in deep stretch en route to a fifth-place finish. Has done little wrong in four starts this year and has also beaten Bodemeister, which means he’s as good as anyone he meets today. The real question is his physical form and whether or not he can keep firing after so many tough races in the first half of the season. One of several who should stalk the early pace and make a move off the far turn, and it’s hard to fault anyone who thinks he can scare more than a few of these; seems capable.
#7 Bodemeister (8-5): Baffert charge ran one of the more remarkable Derbies in the long and storied history of the race after setting suicidal fractions, scooting clear in the stretch only to tire late. Unraced 2yo has fired every time and looks loose as loose as can be, but how many times can they go to the well and expect another huge performance? Still, there’s little doubt he’s the most talented horse of his generation and owns a tremendous race flow advantage as well, so regardless if he bounces or not, he’s the one they all have to run down; figures to be a handful.
#8 Daddy Nose Best (12-1): Wiseguy Derby horse didn’t fire a lick after really having no excuse and now wheels right back in the hopes that that effort was the exception rather than the rule. Broke through in his GIII Sunland Derby win in fast time, but you have to wonder how good that race was after runner-up Isn’t He Perfect didn’t fire in the GI Arkansas Derby behind Bodemeister and then passed on the Derby. Asmussen colt should be closing late and has his merits, but he’s seeking a big turnaround off a forgetful effort; not seeing it.
#9 I’ll Have Another (5-2): Derby winner made it 3-for-3 this year with a late running score in Louisville after stalking early and kicking clear late and looks like the one destined to keep ‘Bode honest early for O’Neill. And that presents Gutierrez with a tough dilemma: does he go after ‘Bode early and risk having no horse late, or does he sit back and risk letting his main rival walk on the lead and never look back? It’s the definition of a jockey’s race and that’s why they give them the big bucks, but either way it’s not a very enviable position to be in. But still, it’s tough to knock a Derby winner who will be tracking the pace and get first run on the closers, but the gut says it’s time for some regression; trying to beat out of the exacta.
#10 Optimizer (30-1): Lukas charge comes right back after running 11th in the Derby and needs a massive form reversal to have any chance. Looked good rallying stoutly in Oaklawn’s GII Rebel, but that seemed like 27 years ago for a horse going backwards very quickly; bombs away.
#11 Cozzetti (30-1): Romans colt has progressed in each of his last two dirt starts, running third in the GII Tampa Bay Derby and fourth behind ‘Bode in Arkansas and could be a wiseguy horse with another forward move today. Son of Cozzene got no breaks from the draw but is going to sit out the back and make a late run anyway, and if they go fast there’s a chance he rallies late into the number; exotics threat.
#5 Went The Day Well
#2 Teeth Of The Dog
#9 I’ll Have Another