05/25/2011 2:25PM

A Look Back at Preakness Weekend

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We won't have a Triple Crown winner this year, but the Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be a solid betting affair. 

Likely to stand in the starting gate along with Kentucky Derby hero Animal Kingdom and Preakness spoiler Shackleford are Derby runner-up Nehro, Peter Pan winner Alternation, Mucho Macho Man (hopefully, with his shoes glued on tight this time around) and a handful of other three-year-olds looking to break from the pack. 

There won't be that dramatic buzz that hovers over Belmont when the Crown is on the line, but there will be opportunities for horseplayers to make money. 

Looking back on the Preakness, the top three finishers ran nice races. 

Shackleford had to work hard every step of the way and was a deserving winner.  He pushed a fast, albeit distance-challenged, pacesetter through a decent half-mile clocking and held off Animal Kingdom's late kick.  I didn't like the way he hopped back to his left lead when Jesus Castanon popped him right-handed, however, and I wonder if two tough, tough runs in a row have sapped some of the strength he'll surely need to pass the "Test of the Champion" at 1 1/2 miles. 

Animal Kingdom didn't break very well and was outsprinted through the quick opening half, but he expertly weaved his way through horses to reach contention at the head of the stretch.  He looked like he might be a winner at the eighth pole, but just didn't have enough punch to kick the door down and was second-best on the day.  The good run validated his Derby effort and his stout pedigree gives him an excellent chance to snare two-thirds of the Triple. 

Astrology won't compete in the Belmont Stakes, but he continued his steady improvement with a ground-saving third-place finish.  He missed time over the winter with an illness and he may have been one race short of his peak, but he gutted it out through the lane despite showing some signs of fatigue.  He may be a sophomore to watch in summer races like the Haskell and Travers. 

For fans of come-home times, here are the final 3 1/2-furlong clockings for the Preakness performers:

Animal Kingdom - 43.61
Dialed In - 43.72
Shackleford - 44.38
Astrology - 44.40
Mucho Macho Man - 45.00
Dance City - 45.08
King Congie - 45.28
Mr. Commons - 45.42
Isn't He Perfect - 45.45
Sway Away - 45.48
Concealed Identity - 45.84
Norman Asbjornson - 46.10
Midnight Interlude - 47.78
Flashpoint - 48.16

If you want to take another look at the Preakness and listen to a more-detailed recap, please click on the below link:


http://www.drf.com/events/preakness-stakes

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*We may never know what happened with LIFE AT TEN in the Breeders' Cup, but we do know that she is a shell of her former shelf.  There were no excuses for her flat effort behind her previously unheralded stablemate, Super Espresso, in the Allaire DuPont Distaff. 

*SUCCESSFUL MISSION has made most of his moolah on the grass, but he rode a speed-favoring Monmouth main track to victory in the Elkwood Stakes.  Considering the lack of a breakout star in the handicap division, it wouldn't be surprising if Successful Mission remains on dirt for the time being. 

*ROYAL DELTA couldn't have worked out a better trip in the Black-Eyed Susan.  Tracking a three-ply pace battle while saving ground, Royal Delta eased off the rail on the final turn and didn't have a straw in her path.

*PADDY O'PRADO gave an extremely game performance in winning the Dixie Stakes, his first and last start of 2011.  Basically running on three legs, he closed down a sharp pacesetter that had things his own way on the front.  Paddy O'Prado was retired after the race and the turf division took a major hit in the process.

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Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's racing action (May 16-22):

1.  SUCCESSFUL MISSION - 108 - Elkwood Stakes - 1 Mile - Monmouth
2.  SHACKLEFORD - 104 - Preakness Stakes (G1) - 1 3/16 Miles - Pimlico
3.  HYMN BOOK - 103 - Three Coins Up Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - Belmont
4.  APART - 100 - William Donald Schaefer Memorial Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Pimlico
4.  ROYAL DELTA - 100 - Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - Pimlico
4.  SUPER ESPRESSO - 100 - Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Pimlico
4.  VENTANA - 100 - Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Pimlico
4.  WORKIN FOR HOPS - 100 - Hanshin Handicap (G3) - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Arlington
9.  MOONLIT MALIBU - 98 - Alw 27200N3X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
10. HEADACHE - 97 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
10. MAY DAY ROSE - 97 - Railbird Stakes (G3) - 7 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
10. RUSH NOW - 97 - Spend a Buck Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Monmouth
10. SHESADOZER - 97 - Alw 34000N2X - 6 Furlongs - Penn National
10. ULTRA BLEND - 97 - Milady Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
15. MASTER CHEF - 96 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
15. NOOSA BEACH - 95 - Governor's Handicap - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Emerald
17. LIVE IN JOY - 94 - Alw 32940N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Arlington
17. NO EXPLAINING - 95 - Gallorette Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Pimlico
17. PADDY O'PRADO - 95 - Dixie Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Pimlico
17. SUYETA - 95 - Clm 50000 - 1 Mile - Churchill
20. BEN'S CAT - 94 - Turf Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Pimlico
20. BOISTEROUS - 94 - Three Coins Up Stakes - 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf) - Belmont
20. CHINGLISH - 94 - James W. Murphy Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Pimlico
20. MENSA HEAT - 94 - Clm 32000(32-28) - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Hollywood
20. ROMACACA - 94 - Sara's Success Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Calder
20. SILVER ROCK - 94 - Alw 52267N2X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Churchill Downs
20. STREAKIN' MOHICAN - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Hollywood
20. WINTER CAMP - 94 - OC 25k/C - 6 Furlongs - Prairiae Meadows

Successful Mission's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Who do you think gave the best performance of the past week?  Check out the videos at the below link and give your opinion:

http://www.drf.com/news/weekend-stakes-preview-videos

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The next HandiGambling exercise will be the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on Memorial Day Monday.  Past performances will be available on Friday afternoon/evening and I will post them as well as some of your questions and comments on that day's blog.

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