With the Kentucky Derby in the rear view mirror, there are plenty of challengers still left to win this year’s 137th running of the Preakness Stakes at historic Pimlico Race Course this Saturday afternoon. But only one that can accomplish what could be the next step to becoming racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez can do just that. But it won’t be easy as they will be seeing four old rivals again in Baltimore.
For the first time since 1992, five Derby finishers all have moved on to this year’s 1 and 3-16-mile Preakness, led by runner-up Bodemeister, Went the Day Well (fourth), Creative Cause (fifth), and Optimizer (11th), all who will make 6:05PM EST post time.
Six new candidates will also make the start, and here are my top four favorites listed in order of postpositions.
PP / 5 — Went the Day Well, 6/1: If there is one thing that trainer Graham Motion knows. It’s how to win the big races. And just one year after winning the Kentucky Derby with jockey John Velazquez aboard Animal Kingdom, Motion will try to win his second major thoroughbred race with the same jockey on top of Team Valor’s Went the Day Well. The colt finished this year’s Run for the Roses like a runaway freight train to finish fourth, making up an huge 7 1/2 lengths in the final furlong to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind winner I’ll Have Another. However, despite that performance and a pair of impressive wins in his last two races, this horse was been ignored by the odds makers and bettors alike, heading to the post at 6/1, making him a decent wager.
PP / 6 — Creative Cause, 6/1: The son of Giant’s Causeway and Storm Cat came into this year’s Kentucky Derby as a post time favorite (11/1) with an overall record of 8-4-2-2, including a loss to I’ll Have Another who beat him in the Santa Anita Derby-G1 just weeks before. The Mike Harrington trainee will go off in the Preakness once again as a major contender, looking to avenge his loss in Southern California. After a few days of rest, this colt looks ready to take on the next challenge, and at 6/1 could be provide a decent return for the somewhat cautious bettor. Especially since 15 of the past Preakness winners have come from the sixth post.
PP / 7 — Bodemiester , 2/1: How can you ever bet against a horse trained by legendary horse whisperer Bob Baffert? It’s not easy, especially when you have a veteran jockey like Mike Smith aboard. And even though 2012 Kentucky Derby favorite Bodemeister came out on the losing end to I’ll Have Another. He is still one of the heavy favorites in this week’s Preakness Stakes. The Empire Maker colt owned by former Heineken International CEO Ahmed Zayat, nearly pulled off what would have been one of the most impressive Derby wins in recent memory, setting a blistering pace through the backstretch and for a moment separating himself from the field. However, it wasn’t to be, as the horse appeared to tire towards the end, being edged out in the final sixteenth.
PP/ 9 — I’ll Have Another, 5/2: While to most this horse came out of nowhere, those that are familiar with Southern California trainer Doug O’Neil, weren’t surprised at all The son of Flower Alley and Distorted Humor moved into perfect stalking position behind early leader Bodemiester in the Kentucky Derby, overtaking the favorite at the wire. The horse retuned a cool $32.60 for winners, a huge payout for a colt that was unbeaten in his two prior starts, winning the Robert B. Lewis-G2 and Santa Anita Derby-G1 at Santa Anita. That makes him the first horse since Sunday Silence back in 1989 to sweep the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies. Considering a rookie jockey in the irons, plus a No. 9 post position, I’ll Have Another has a lot of work to do, but has the pedigree that could land him another win in this year’s Preakness.
PREAKNESS STAKES WINNER = My pick is Bodemeister. This horse should have won the Derby. And with the short distance at Pimlico –one-sixteenth of a mile shorter than Churchill Downs–and the fact that 11 winners for the Run for the Black Eyed Susans have come from the seventh post position. At 2/1 odds, Bodemeister is a great bargain in this year’s Preakness Stakes. Especially for the safe bettor.