05/13/2009 3:16PM

Preakness thoughts


Tired of reading all the headlines hyping the impending Battle of the Sexes?  How about a couple of betting alternatives for Saturday's Preakness Stakes?

While both Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra are obviously logical contenders to wear the Black-Eyed Susans once the second leg of racing's Triple Crown is all said and done, there are holes in their form to address. 

The Derby winner's race was such an anomaly compared to his previous past performance lines that one must wonder where it came from.  Is he simply a horse reaching his peak at an opportune time?  Did all he need was a change in riding tactics to fulfill his true potential?  Or, and more likely, did the little colt relish the slick Churchill Downs racing strip better than his competition? 
If you're looking for wagering value in the Preakness, you'll have to move elsewhere.  Mine That Bird won't be anywhere near his Derby odds of 50-1.  Can he win the Preakness?  Absolutely, but considering that he was an underlay at 50-1 on the first Saturday in May, odds of 9-2 or so in the Preakness look somewhat unappetizing if the track comes up fast.

It's hard to knock a horse with the brilliance of Rachel Alexandra, but she is wheeling back on two weeks rest to face a stronger cast than the bunch of ladies she disdainfully disapatched of in the Kentucky Oaks.  The pace looks to be perhaps five lengths faster in the Preakness than it was in the Oaks.  Taxing fractions may work to the big filly's disadvantage.  She'll be on or near the lead, and should be in strong contention as the field roars into the final turn.  Can she win?  Absolutely.  But while playing a filly off such short notice at slight odds may give a handicapper temporary bragging rights (until the next race, that is), it won't pay off in the pocketbook.   

Without knowing the post positions, I found two intriguing horses that look poised to make their presence felt at Pimlico.

Big Drama has finished first in six straight races at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. He showed both speed and class in his recent tough-luck disqualification in the Swale at Gulfsream.  That race was his first since grabbing a quarter in the Delta Jackpot, and then being sidelined in the early Spring following surgery on his left hind shin.  Despite the time off, he didn't show any rust.  After coasting through an easy first quarter, Big Drama was engaged by the solid This Ones for Phil, and the two sped off through a middle half-mile in 45 1/5. Big Drama was drifting out in the stretch, but refused to let This Ones for Phil pass in deep stretch. 
While Big Drama went gate-to-wire in the Swale, he has shown a willingness to sit just off the leaders.  He was fifth after the first call in the Delta Jackpot, and relaxed off a 49 3/5 half when winning the In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes.  He'll probably either be in front early, or sitting just off Rachel Alexandra's hip for the backstretch run. 
While his pedigree isn't exactly geared to the classic distances, the Montbrook - Notebook breeding 'nick' has produced Outofthebox, the winner of the Grade 1 Super Derby at 10 furlongs. 

Don't dismiss Papa Clem.  I think the short comment for his Derby run is a bit misleading.  "Steadying restraint" either indicates that the horse was bounced around in traffic or was so rank that he was impossible to handle.  Neither was the case.  Papa Clem was eager, as he always seems to be in the early portion of his races, but he soon settled in behind horses for Rafael Bejarano.  While no match for Mine That Bird, Papa Clem kept on in the stretch to lose a three-horse photo for second.
Perhaps Papa Clem doesn't run as well on mud as he does on firm going.  In his three races on dirt, he caught two wet tracks, and two freakish winners (Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby, and Mine That Bird) emerged with the lion's share of the purse money in those races.  In his only start on fast ground, he won the Arkansas Derby at nine furlongs.
In trying to visualize how the Preakness will be run, I keep seeing Papa Clem as the recipient of a perfect trip.  Big Drama and Rachel Alexandra may be disputing the issue while Papa Clem sits in a comfortable pace-tracking spot two to four lengths off the leaders.  I expect Papa Clem to get the jump on the late closers from that spot.  Whether he's good enough to beat these horses is certainly open to debate, but teh price should be right.

As it stands right now, I'll probably key Big Drama and Papa Clem with Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird as underneath considerations.


Some quotes from the most recent press release from Pimlico:

*Wayne Lukas on if he trained Rachel Alexandra:

"Believe me, if I had Rachel Alexandra, she'd have been in the Derby.  Are you kidding me?  That would have been a no-brainer.  I'd have led her over there and said, "Boys, just get in the gate, you're in deep crap."

*Lukas on Luv Gov:

"That son of a gun is starting to do good.  He ran a bang-up race to Summer Bird in Hot Springs and he came back on Derby day and his numbers for that race are pretty darn good in relation to ones who ran a little later in the Derby.  A horse that is improving at this time of year is always dangerous...My ultimate goal for him...is the Belmont...He could make a little noise here.  We don't have grandiose ideas that he's going to jump up and beat these horses, but he might figure in the superfecta."

*Derek Ryan on Musket Man facing Rachel Alexandra:

"The more the merrier.  I'm not worried about anybody else in the race."

*Todd Pletcher on Rachel Alexandra:

"I'll find it very interesting to see how she handles a step up in class because the field is greatly different than the field she faced in the Oaks.  I think it's great for the sport and it's going to be very exciting to see how she performs."


Do the same rule apply to the Preakness HG as the did the Derby HG?
Are we allowed to bet the Black-eyed Susan - Preakness double?
Is there such a thing as a Black-eyed Susan - Preakness double being offered this year?
Is there a cap to how much we can spend on this bet?
Could i do a bet such as:
$96 BES-PD Oro Blanco/Rachel Alexandra
$1 TRI RA/BD, terrain/BD, terrain, FF
I want some guidelines beacuse i am very tempted to put in this bet for the HG.

Saturday's HandiGambling 133 exercise will be the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico. 

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

The same rules for the Kentucky Derby HandiGambling exercise will apply for the Preakness.  There is a $2 minimum Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Daily Double wager.  You can spend the $100 in any fashion.

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated


Every year we hear about the tight turns of Pimlico. And also every year, at least one TV analyst - maybe it is Randy Moss year after year - will say that the tight turns are a myth. So do the turns have an impact or not?

I'm not a big proponent of the "tight turns" angle.  There's enough of a run going to the first turn for horses from outside post positions to get over and not lose too much ground.  As always, keep a watchful eye on the earlier dirt races to see if there is any sort of bias in effect.


Should I assume there are no P6s for BES or Preakness Day?

I don't think there are any Pick 6's for those cards.  There are eight pick-threes and two pick-fours on Friday.  On Saturday, there will be rolling daily doubles, eight pick-threes, and two guaranteed pick-fours.


Back with more tomorrow.

Take care,



polly More than 1 year ago
poly hit
E. Duett More than 1 year ago
I'm all about vindication this morning! All you neigh-sayers dished my little Bird -- now YOU say he's for real. And the consolation of gelding-dom -- the derby winner will be racing, and we'll get to see him for a long time. Those cowboys and their little brown horse are competitors, and they're staying in the game. Bravo!
Molesap More than 1 year ago
HG 133 Note: Feel like I'm on free roll as I was going to bet $100 DD, but forgot - considering it would not be live, I have new life. Fiesan Fire failed to fire in the Derby, but I’m willing to give him another chance. I really liked him that day, but never pulled the trigger because I had a "funny feeling" - I have a similar, but opposite one today. I suspect he’s going to get he perfect trip and perhaps like “Bo-rail” at CD, Jones gets the Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double at PIM. Rachel is tough to beat, but at the price I have to put her in the second hole. My biggest worry is that she gets away with an easy lead, but I suspect she may get pressured like Winning Colors. Pioneerof the Nile showed he can run some, Dan likes Big Drama, but I suspect he’ll fade a bit, but I think he’s the most talented horse, just not fit enough nor breed for this race, and Take the Points may improve on dirt. The Bets $3 Trifecta: 5 / 1,9,13 / 1,9,13 Bets: 6 Total: $18 $1 Trifecta: 5 / 9,11,13 / 9,11,13 Bets: 6 Total: $6 $1 Trifecta: 5 / 8,9,13 / 8,9,13 Bets: 6 Total: $6 $1 Trifecta: 5 / 7,9,13 / 7,9,13 Bets: 6 Total: $6 $2 Trifecta: 5 / 9,13 / 9,13 Bets: 2 Total: $4 $1 Trifecta: 5 / 1,9,11,13 / 1,9,11,13 Bets: 24 Total: $24 $2 Superfecta: 5 / 1,9,13 / 1,9,13 / 1,9,13 Bets: 6 Total: $12 $1 Superfecta: 5 / 1,9,11,13 / 1,9,11,13 / 1,9,11,13 Bets: 24 Total: $24
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Hg 133 Preakness $1 Superfecta 1,5,8/13/2,3,7,9/2,3,7 =$27 2,3,7,9/13/1,5,8/2,3,7 =$27 1,5,8/2,3,7,9/13/2,3,7 =$27 2,3,9/1,5,8/13/2,7 =$15
garyw More than 1 year ago
hg 133 preakness 10ex 9/2,6,7,11,13 10ex 2,6,7,11,13/9 potn is always there at the end. no good reason why he wont be there now.
Tom More than 1 year ago
Cayman, A) Here is an alternate for you, with the same sad result: "So I'm sitting in a WingHouse (think Hooters with edible food) and my waitress comes up to me and asks me what I'm reading. "The Daily Racing Form" I reply. "Cool, " she says. "I love NASCAR." As I paid the check I avoided all conversation. I literally couldn't say another word she had me so flummoxed. Our world is changing and not for the better. B) Next time, try Fuddrucker's. [Refers to a Mathieu post from a few months ago]
turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
On the favorite Eagles song topic, I am stuck between the melancholy elegance of the guitars on Hotel California and the sick, over the top decadence of Life in the Fast Lane. "He was a hardheaded man who was brutally handsome, and she was terminally pretty"......
turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Chicago Gerry, The music comments are all too funny...Wind Beneath MY Wings, indeed. Your reward is a trip to a Celine Dion concert. I know Bette Midler sings it, but thought that punishment more appropriate. Blue, You will be punished for your comments by being forced to sing falsetto while wearing a white suit for the Saratoga meet! Good luck at Siro's wearing those duds. (pun intended) Scott, It was 2003, but we did see Almost Famous on CD and we loved it. Dave got his musical taste from his 5 month stint in guitar classes. He thought the combo of jock/musician would make him catnip to the girls. PGM, You are an old soul in your musical preferences. All, I am having an easier time deciding what to listen to tonight than who to bet on tomorrow......
johnnyz More than 1 year ago
Joe Private, So you think Afleet Alex was lucky winning the Preakness? I see a totally different picture in the fact he was first of all the best horse in the race. Secondly his athletic ability as a race horse is how he won the race... Kind of made his own good luck! Here are pp's for the Preakness: http://www.equibase.com/rotw/fullpp.pdf http://www.drf.com/formulator-web/free-race.go?trackId=PIM&country=USA&raceDate=20090516&dayEvening=D&raceNumber=12#past-performance-race/12
Sammy More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, I found this on the front page of DRF.com. and copied a few excerpts. 'Bird' not the word on all lips" By Jay Privman But, as evidenced by the few people with Woolley on Thursday morning, there's still an element of disbelief that seems to surround Mine That Bird. He has not been the focal point of this Preakness, And when Mine That Bird went to the track on Thursday morning, his entourage was as small as it was before the Derby. There's still plenty of room on the bandwagon. "Running against the filly, it's going to be a real exciting race," said Bob Baffert, the trainer of Pioneerof the Nile, the Derby runner-up. "This is going be as exciting as watching the Derby. We're all pumped up for this one." MTB's entourage was as small as before the KD, which I would guess, was as small or smaller an entourage than any horse in the field had in the KD. Those few fans are the public. If MTB's story were anything at all like you explain, I would think we would see more than a group of people to small to form a basketball team on the track two day before the big race. Smarty Jones had a ENTOURAGE not a handfull of fans. Sports Illustrated is barely keeping it's head above water...they are certainly not what they used to be and it is hardly a beacon for success to make it's cover these days. If a cover on Sports Illustrated is your reason for your steadfast belief about the public loving MTB then I think you need to upgrade your reading material. I am glad you mentioned the "confrontational" part. I read your posts to me to be confrontational in that you assert ( without any background on me ) what I know and don't know. Anyway, Privman was at the track and the evidence is clear. MTB's fame has been highly exagerrated otherwise we would see a crowd around MTB ( not a few people )when on the track. Actually, I am not sold on RA winning the race and that really has nothing to do with what we are discussing. I am convinced that SHE is the story and should be.