08/27/2010 3:07PM

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.