05/16/2012 3:12PM

2012 Preakness: Cozzetti one of five new shooters

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Barbara D. Livingston
New York-bred Zetterholm is a Preakness longshot for trainer Richard Dutrow.

BALTIMORE – The primary focus is on the top finishers in the Kentucky Derby, and deservedly so, at least according to the Pimlico Race Course toteboard. But when the 137th Preakness is run Saturday, there is always the chance that a new face will emerge to upset the horses that became familiar to racing fans by running in the Derby.

“New shooters,” as they are commonly called, have won the Preakness seven times in the last 40 years, dating to Bee Bee Bee upsetting Derby winner Riva Ridge in the 1972 running. This year, however, it would appear the new shooters are up against it. Despite their roster being somewhat long – five non-Derby starters are entered – it is not particularly strong, as none of them figure close in the wagering to Bodemeister, I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, and Went the Day Well.

Of the newcomers to the 2012 Triple Crown series, perhaps Cozzetti has the best chance, although he, like all the others, figures among the longest shots on the board. A distant fourth behind Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby, Cozzetti has some decent back-form, having also run creditably in three other stakes, including a third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. Perhaps more importantly, trainer Dale Romans has loved how this colt has trained in recent weeks at Churchill Downs.

“One day he’s going to wake up and run lights out,” said Romans, who won the Preakness last year with Shackleford and took a pass on the Preakness this year to await the Belmont Stakes with his third-place Derby finisher, Dullahan. “He’s a really talented colt and he’s been showing signs of turning the corner.”

Here are short profiles of the other new shooters:

* Pretension: There always seems to be a token Maryland horse or two to give the locals a rooting interest, and this year one of those horses is Pretension. Twice a winner of minor stakes, most recently the Canonero II (formerly the Tesio) at Pimlico last out, this New York-bred is based at the Bowie training center with Chris Grove, one of the top conditioners on the Maryland circuit.

* Teeth of the Dog: This is one of the more intriguing newcomers, for a couple of reasons: he’s lightly raced and has flashed a bit of promise, having finished an okay third at 53-1 in the Wood Memorial in his last start, and his trainer is Michael Matz, who not only has the 2006 tragedy involving Barbaro as his lone Preakness experience, but who also has Union Rags as a prominent member of this 3-year-old class. While Union Rags awaits the Belmont, this colt will be a long-priced stand-in.

* Tiger Walk: Owned by the rejuvenated Sagamore Farm of Under Armour tycoon Kevin Plank, this colt seems unlikely to reprise the lost glory of Native Dancer and other Sagamore greats – but like the old racetrack saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it. Improving locally-based colt comes off okay finishes in three straight New York preps – the Withers, Gotham, and Wood Memorial.

* Zetterholm: The fact that Rick Dutrow really wanted to be here seems a plus, given the trainer’s high rate of overall success and that he knows how to win the Preakness, having done so four years ago with Big Brown. But even though this New York-bred made commendable progress over the winter, he still seems a rung or two below the best of the crop and will be something like 50-1 on the board – a far cry from the odds-on choice Big Brown was.

Sharpshooters

Seven horses who did not run in the Kentucky Derby have won the Preakness in the last 40 years.

Year Horse Preakness payout Prior start
2009 Rachel Alexandra $5.60 Kentucky Oaks, 1st
2006 Bernardini 27.80 Withers, 1st
2000 Red Bullet 14.40 Wood Memorial, 2nd
1983 Deputed Testamony 31.00 Keystone Stakes, 1st
1982 Aloma's Ruler 15.80 Withers, 1st
1980 Codex 7.40 Santa Anita Derby, 1st
1972 Bee Bee Bee 39.40 Woodlawn Stakes, 5th