08/27/2010 4:07PM

It's Doable


The first thing that comes to mind regarding the $5 million bonus attached to next year's Preakness Stakes that was just announced by MI Developments is, as bonuses like this go, this hardly requires some preposterous achievement. Usually big bonuses like this require a horse to win five races in 10 days, the last two of which have to be over the jumps and then on water-skis while wearing a tutu. Or something like that. But not this time. This is doable.

In order to collect the bonus, a horse must win a combination of Triple Crown preps at MI Development tracks (either Gulfstream, Santa Anita, or Golden Gate), and then the Preakness, which is of course run at the MI Delopment-owned Pimlico. But the combination of preps you have to win before winning the Preakness is far from outlandish.

At Gulfstream, you have to win either the Holy Bull or Fountain of Youth and then win the Florida Derby. That makes total sense. The Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth are totally logical stepping stones to the Florida Derby.

At Santa Anita, you have to win either the Robert Lewis or the San Felipe, and then win the Santa Anita Derby. Again, completely logical, as the Lewis and San Felipe are natural springboards to the Santa Anita Derby. And it should be noted here that Santa Anita's races for 3-year-olds could easily have far more impact on the Triple Crown next year than it has the last three years with the main track at Santa Anita being converted back to natural dirt from synthetic.

The Golden Gate connection requires a horse to win that track's El Camino Real Derby and then the Santa Anita Derby. That's a bit more of a stretch, but far from impossible.

You only have to go back nine years to Point Given to find a 3-year-old who would have taken down this bonus. I'm not saying that someone is going to take down this $5 million bonus every year, or every other year. But it doesn't require a vivid imagination to envision a serious 3-year-old coming along and winning the San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby and Preakness, or the Fountain of Youth, the Florida Derby, and Preakness. Triple Crown preps like these usually attract most of the serious 3-year-old prospects, anyway.

Speaking of serious 3-year-olds, I have to join the chorus singing the praises of Trickmeister, who stretched his unbeaten streak to four with a most impressive victory in Friday's Pleasant Colony Stakes at Saratoga. In his first start for IEAH Stable and trainer Rick Dutrow, and first start outside of Delaware Park, Trickmeister set a strong pace while in hand under prompting from Our Dark Knight and then ran away from that opponent in the stretch to score by almost 12 lengths in a fast final time. And while Our Dark Knight is no Seattle Slew, he is a very decent horse.

Some will surely say that Trickmeister ran a day too early, and that he could have won Saturday's Travers. Who knows? The Travers is a different race at a different distance with different opposition and different race dynamics. But what you can say is, Trickmeister certainly left the Travers colts with a tough act to follow.

Blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Mike, Snow Chief won the El Camino Real Derby , the Florida Derby, the Santa Anita Derby, the Preakness and yes, the Jersey Derby (Spend a Buck's bonus winner). Shouldn't a horse that can accomplish that get a 20 million bonus ? Or at least 10 million ?
delmardave More than 1 year ago
Where does this leave the female population ? Last year RA would have had to run against males two times before . This seems to all but eliminate the fillies from consideration ? I know it doesn't happen often -running a female-but it does seem unfair . That is if all you are interested in is going after the bonus .
rickeyd More than 1 year ago
I think if you have this bonus the winners of the preps will bypass the derby to run in the preakness a lot like spend a buck did after he won the derby.
wilson More than 1 year ago
I applaud this bonus structure but don't think Churchill Downs will allow the Kentucky Derby to upstaged by anyone. With Dubai sporting a 10 million dollar race and the BC Classic being the richest race in North America....and the Kentucky Derby currently having the same purse as the BC Dirt Mile it is time for Churchill to ante up and make the Derby a 5 million dollar race, in line with its importance to the sport. As for Rachel Alexandra today, that was depressing to watch. I never thought she was a mile and a quarter horse but I thought she could beat this field on talent alone. If thats what she has left in the tank then I hope they retire her now to protect her legacy. She has lost something... had it squeezed out of her with too much ambition last year. Perhaps a more conservative campaign in 2009 would have led to Rachel Alexandra being an unbeatable superhorse in 2010, but we will never know. Now with the benefit of hindsight it is reasonable to say that too much was asked of her in her in such a short period of time during her 2009 campaign. I want Rachel Alexandra to retire healthy and sound, whenever she does retire, and if she can only win one graded stakes race in her 5 race campaign then it would be reasonable to say lets protect this horse. By doing so now 2009 will be her legacy, not 2010. If they run her into two more losses this year it would be a shame for such a talented horse.
binky mcfadden More than 1 year ago
$5 million to get attention is a lot cheaper than spending $150 million to renovate Pimlico. Another Stronach example of style over substance. Marketing in favor of improving the sport. BLAH!
drifty More than 1 year ago
This bonus is a stroke of genius. Stronach has certainly been controversial and initiated some questionable endeavors. He is trying like heck not to make the Preakness irrelevant, which has happened many times in recent years. Horses that don't win the Derby often skip the Preakness to get ready for the Belmont and take on a possible Triple Crown winner. Now, you could actually have a Florida horse, a Cali horse, and the Derby winner all head to the Preakness; one to take the second jewel and the other two fighting for a Triple Crown win and $5 million. I absolutely love it.
ron77 More than 1 year ago
info for the travers at saratoga race track admiral alex and super saver
alan More than 1 year ago
I would think only trainers like Baffert and Pletcher who have been known to send 3-5 starters to the derby would be inclined to pass with a horse they think capable of winning the derby. It is the holy grail of racing and the only logical way to skip it is if you have other bullets to fire. Being from Maryland, it is about time they did something to help bolster racing here. I live ten minutes from Laurel, but when I want to go to the track I drive an hour to Delawar Park because of the sad state of affairs here and the wonderful job done up north.
Eric More than 1 year ago
There's a good chance. Money talks. Remember Spend a Buck being held out of the Preakness to go for the $2.6 million by winning the Jersey Derby? Now, we're talking double that? It will happen. I realize that the Derby has much more history and appeal than the Preakness so it would be harder to skip that race but someone's going to do it. I think it will happen a few times.
slb More than 1 year ago
On the other hand, maybe the connections of a horse who loses the Derby, but who won the needed races to try for the bonus, would be inclined to run in the Preakness, instead of passing and waiting for a later race.