05/17/2015 1:32PM

Jay Privman's Preakness analysis


Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, 1 3/16 miles, Pimlico, May 16, 2015

 Winner: American Pharoah

 Trainer: Bob Baffert

 Jockey: Victor Espinoza

 Owner: Zayat Stables, LLC

 Beyer Speed Figure: 102

 AMERICAN PHAROAH can run. And, after this race, we also know he can swim. Braving conditions even more treacherous than what he encountered in his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes, American Pharoah rolled to a seven-length victory, and now moves on to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

 The Preakness marked his sixth straight victory, earned at five different racetracks. He clearly does not need to take his track with him, and that served him well on this day, for the conditions deteriorated rapidly in the minutes preceding the Preakness, resulting in a sloppy track that had quite a bit of standing water atop it.

 Speed figure makers had to have a tough time quantifying this performance, because the track changed significantly from what it had been earlier in the day. It started off as a warm, muggy day, and the track was fast. With the storm approaching, the track was sealed about 90 minutes before the Preakness, after the preceding dirt race and prior to the Dixie on turf. Then, shortly before the horses came on the track for the Preakness post parade, the harrows went over the track, removing the seal. Then the rains came.

 There was one race after the Preakness, and the track was floated before that race, squeezing out the excess water. So, the Preakness was run on a surface unlike anything else this day. It’s a figure-maker’s nightmare.

 After facing 17 rivals in the Kentucky Derby, just seven others lined up against American Pharoah in the Preakness. American Pharoah drew the rail. The inside stall was left open, so he came out of stall number 2. He broke a touch to his right, but Martin Garcia, on Baffert-trained stablemate DORTMUND, held his mount in a straight line, and didn’t gun for the lead, which allowed Victor Espinoza to aggressively send American Pharoah up the inside and to the lead, with MR. Z tracking him.

 American Pharoah cleared Mr. Z heading around the first turn, and his ears immediately went straight up, a sign he was running well within himself. As the field went down the backstretch, Espinoza shrewdly let American Pharoah have a breather, and several rivals closed in, with both Mr. Z and Dortmund getting within a length of him.

 American Pharoah staved off those rivals while still looking as though he was on cruise control on the far turn. At the top of the stretch, Espinoza slapped his left rein on American Pharoah’s neck, and American Pharoah started to widen anew. Espinoza hand rode him to the eighth pole, gave him a couple of light backhand flicks at that point, and then simply waved his whip near American Pharoah’s right eye before returning to a hand ride in the closing yards. He could not have won any easier.

 The raw final time of 1:58.46 was very slow, but the conditions severely impacted the race. In fact, when factoring in the track condition, the early fractions of 22.90 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.49 seconds for a half seem quite fast. American Pharoah simply ran his rivals off their feet.

 TALE OF VERVE bobbled slightly leaving the gate and was initially on his wrong lead, then settled at the rear of the pack and remained there for the first half of the race. He picked off the back markers on the far turn, and steadily kept charging to catch DIVINING ROD for second after having to duck inside Divining Rod with 100 yards to go.

 Divining Rod, who finished third, was between horses while three paths wide entering the first turn, then was guided to the rail down the backstretch and steadily advanced on the leaders. He moved inside Mr. Z and Dortmund on the far turn while following American Pharoah and was second entering the lane, but could not keep pace when American Pharoah kicked clear, drifted to his right in deep stretch, and surrendered second to Tale of Verve.

 Dortmund, who finished fourth, has now lost two straight after winning the first six starts of his career. He stirred a bit in the gate before the start, but broke cleanly, though he was not sent hard from the gate, allowing American Pharoah to zoom up inside him. He was then guided off the inside to settle into a stalking position behind American Pharoah and Mr. Z. He moved up outside those two entering the far turn and drew within a length of American Pharoah, came under a heavy ride with a quarter-mile remaining and went evenly through the lane while outrun. He has not had a break since his debut last November, but now will get some time off.

 Mr. Z, who finished fifth, broke well and tried to go with American Pharoah through those quick early fractions, but could not keep up and settled into second, about two lengths behind, turning up the backside. He was able to edge closer when American Pharoah took his mid-race breather, but was outrun by both Divining Rod and Dortmund coming to the quarter pole and steadily faded. I have opined in this space for several races that he looks like he needs a vacation.

 DANZIG MOON, who finished sixth, settled near the back of the pack along the rail heading into the first turn, where he had to check slightly to avoid the heels of BODHISATTVA. He was near the back of the pack throughout and never made any impact in a dull effort I’m going to chalk up to the sloppy track.

 FIRING LINE, who was seventh, stumbled badly a stride out of the gate, so instead of being in a stalking position as projected, he wound up outside a four-horse spread well behind the leaders heading into the first turn. He remained well back, tried to make a brief run while wide on the far turn, but struggled with the track and was practically eased by jockey Gary Stevens before the top of the stretch. This race is a throw-out for him.

 Bodhisattva, who finished last of eight, was in the two path as part of a four-horse spread well back of the leaders heading into the first turn, was unable to keep pace down the backstretch, dropped back to last, and, like Firing Line, was virtually eased through the lane.


Stevie Shugart More than 1 year ago
Can you hear me now 'THE WAIT IS OVER'
Stevie Shugart More than 1 year ago
All u AP non believers, after the Belmont, be prepared to STICK your foot in your mouth. 'THE WAIT IS OVER'
Mooch ... More than 1 year ago
First of all, I have always made my own speed adjustments, and you can adjust somewhat put cannot put a speed figure on a race that happened in the next to last race where the track was dry before a sudden down pour. Second of all when the pace is faster than mnormal the final time will be slower, but then again like I say with the sudden down pour you can give the time less consideration. The fact is AP was much the best again and hopefully Victor has learned that the rail is a better place to be than 5 wide. And using a horses best weapon such as speed is better than rating as was the case for California Chrome in the Belmont last year. I guess people are playing the odds that there can't be a triple crown winner since some have never seen one, with me I have seen plenty so it doesn't seem unusual for me. AP has beaten everyone so I figure he will keep on doing it. If there is someone he hasn't beaten yet they certainly weren't in the Derby or Preakness, and if they were in a Derby prep race then they were beaten by a horse AP has already handled, and if they wasn't in a prep race then they are not worthy of even being in the Belmont. Just grab the lead in the Belmont and give everyone the steady grind and who knows, he might end up moving like a tremendous machine.
Jack Meehan More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a dazzling perfomance the ‘ Pharoah ‘ gave us on Preakness Day! Did you know, that when he crossed the wire, he was actually carrying 135lbs. He did all the work, gave everyone a chance to beat him, and then just drew off like they weren’t there, on track conditions, that looked like they were running on quicksand! Of course the others carried more weight too, but look how far back they finished? After that performance, this colt wasn’t even breathing hard. What a special horse indeed! With his natural speed, and incredible stride, he will certainly be a tough colt to beat in the ‘ Belmont ‘. My last tweet, two days before the Preakness, was just take him to the front, they’ll never catch you! I’d be willing to bet, that Victor will have him 1st or 2nd going into the first urn in NY, and from their they can control the race. Once this colt gets the lead, your not going to get by him, he’s just too good! I would like to say, that I had the trifecta, but I didn’t, played a 1-2-7 cold, and just like in the Derby, I bought lots of $2 win tickets, playing for the Triple Crown set, as I felt this was the best way, to try and make some real money on this years Triple Crown! I’ve had the Derby winner, and the Tri, the last six(6) years, so if you need some help, be sure to follow me on Twitter @saratogajack .. Can hardly wait for the Belmont, and remember the Belmont is a rider’s race, and the horse that can carry his speed the furthest, usually wins! Best of luck to all, especially American Pharoah, as I believe he has what it takes, to be the first Triple Crown Winner in 37 years!
Mooch ... More than 1 year ago
prose perfect More than 1 year ago
I don't see HOW they can possibly assign a 102 Beyer to that performance. It was the slowest Preakness in 59 years. FIFTY-NINE !!!!!!!!!!! This number is completely and utter subjective and without any mathematical validity. It's outrageous, really. I love Andy Beyer's writing (I have bought and read 3 of his books) but he's lost all respect in my eyes as far as the fraudulent figs he has produced this past decade, creating them out of whole cloth for new tracks like Keeneland, etc, where he possesses no par speed figures.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I agree. For years now those figures are subjective. They just are. Because of that, they are totally useless.
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
They are not useless if you use them as one of many factors to consider.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
The number is totally useless. Yes, of course you factor all the factors....mostly the class of the horses in the race. Prose's point is that the number given is still subjective.....it's based on nothing but an opinion. That's all. No more. No less.
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
His figures wouldn't have gotten you near Keen Pauline in Friday's feature either. The DRF figures on her good race which showed a track variant of 36, when adjusted, would have. Also of note was her having finished ahead of I'ma Chatterbox.
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
I came up with a 99 or 100 speed figure, so the 102 is not outrageous. This is how you get to that number: First, you look at the race itself, it is the Preakness and the owners are trying to win a Grade I race. Thus, you must say that a win in the Preakness is worth at least an 85. Second, you first look at Dortmund and Mr. Z and figure they had a off day and calculate that an off day for them would be something like an 85. So, that is your lower threshold. Then, you look at Divining Rod and assess that his last speed figure was a 98, but he too ran probably less than he could have, perhaps a 92 or 93. Since American Pharoah finished way ahead of Divining Rod, he probably ran, giving him the benefit of the doubt, an 99 or 100. I think 102 is too high. But, it is not ridiculous. I think it could have been as low as a 95. BEFORE you say, well the time was horrible. First, realize how ridiculous that opinion is. It had just rained and the track went from fast to muddy to sloppy, lightning strikes caused the infield to be evacuated and it was bad enough for the OUTSIDE post horse to have a horrible start. Second, Espinoza admitted he gunned his horse to the lead which would have burned out any horse--and did, based on American Pharoah's horrible closing fractions. BUT, psychological the other horses were finished. Only Tale of Verve, who was taken to the very back of the pack and did not fall for the Espinoza's ploy was able to rally into the defeated also rans. Tale of Verve's best race came at 1 3/16 mile previously, has distance in his pedigree, and has a Preakness winner, Sunday Silence in his pedigree. Plus, Dallas Stewart, his trainer has a history of getting long shots to show up. The 102 is a bit high but it is not ridiculous.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Nice well thought out post Paul...except even though I agree with your assesment....you have proved Prose Perfect's point. These figures are subjective. They are based on nothing objective. Yes, I get that the Grade 1 is considered and so on....I don't even disagree with your writing. The simple point though is all of these points are subjective to who he is running against and such.....so, I stand by my opinion....these figures are totally subjective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kick out the *Jams AK47
Dale Normanson More than 1 year ago
Are you guys serious? A horse destroys a Grade 1 field in a freaking monsoon they only raced in because of TV schedules and you are kvetching about time? That's all a figure represents? Time?
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Dale? I think you misunderstood Prose. Yes, AP destroyed a Grade 1 field. That's true. Prose's point is only that these figures are subjective. It's not bad necessarily that they are subjective. The point is only that they are. The reason why it's important to note, is because they are presented as if they are objective. Even if you read the books, it is presented as such. I'm not saying it's bad or good. The point is simple. They are always a guess to what they think the number is based on the class of the race.....and that, my friend, makes them subjective and meaningless. But, you are right about one sentiment, the time in this race doesn't even matter....so, it looks like you agree with us.
noocheroni More than 1 year ago
Keen Ice will be Bafferts Victory Gallop.Ouch !!
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
Mr. Zayat will regret selling Mr. Z. If he had kept him he could have kept him out of this race and AP could have set an easy pace. Instead 22 and 4, 46 and 2. That will catch up with AP when he turns for home in the Belmont. Also, remember this, Gary Stevens was quoted after the race that he weighed in at 135 pounds soaking wet. Which means AP carried around 135 pounds around the track, pressed from the onset, needlessly had Mr. Zayat not sold him, and all Pletcher's horses were resting and are now lying in wait. Good luck Mr. Zayat, you will need it after making one of the dumbest business decisions in the history of horse racing.
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
The others will have the task of "catching up." Watch him burst away again.
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
Re: "Dumbest Business Decision" Let's calculate: Zayat, I think, paid $135,000 for Mr. Z Mr.Z had won $650,000 so, subtracting training, costs and fees, that $650,000 was probably about $350,000 in his pocket. Subtracting $135,000, that means Zayat was already $215,000 ahead on Mr. Z. Then, Calumet probably paid something like $650,000 for Mr. Z, maybe more?? So, Zayat probably cleared after costs about $800,000 in total profits on his horse investment in Mr. Z. That is not a dumb decision. In addition, Mr. Z's actions probably helped American Pharoah win the race. There has been no word that American Pharoah suffered any injuries...so with a Derby and Preakness win, even if he does not win Belmont, American Pharoah has solidified his value to some degree. As for Calument?? They made a great deal. When the other horses go to the breeding shed, Mr. Z will have a great 4 year old and 5 year old handicap campaign, win back Calumet's investment and then the lesser breeding fees he will get later will be icing on the top. It was a good business decision for all.
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
Yes, for a man worth around $400 million it was a genius business decision. What a stupid analysis on your part. I'm sure that handsome profit will be well worth it when AP succumbs the final furlong in the Belmont...ALL BECAUSE HE WAS PUSHED BY A HORSE ZAYAT OWNED, THEN SOLD
Dale Normanson More than 1 year ago
Was there a supernatural event occurring at the track Saturday? Why should Gary Stevens weight have been carried by American Pharoah? Was Secretariat spotted too?
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
Are u really that stupid. I was inferring that since Gary Stevens weighed 135 pounds, thus Victor Espinoza would have weighed around 135 pounds, since he was in the same rainstorm. Please keep betting horses. We need idiots like u in the wagering pool. Maybe not the gene pool, but the wagering pool will suffice; for now.
Raymond Roberts More than 1 year ago
Materiality will be right there on the wire in the Belmont.Pletcher's "rags to riches" redoux for 6/2015.
Stephen More than 1 year ago
How bout Palice Malice?
scott maly More than 1 year ago
totally agree...i think he's the one guy talented enough to beat pharaoh...loved the way he didn't quit in the derby when he had every reason to
tommy More than 1 year ago
Belmont stakes contenders : American pharoah : if he uses his running economy goog really fast , gate to wire, he will break secretariat Belmont stakes track record !!! Mubtaahij : has high lactate threshold and has equal running economy to secretariat !!!! He is the only horse in this race to challenge American pharoah !!! Materiality : this horse reminds me of myself !! His high vo2 max and lactate threshold won't help because he has poor running mechanics !!! I love this horse and he will challenge American pharoah for the first 6 furlongs!!! Frosted : has low vo2 max and low lactate threshold !!!! Doesn't have a chance here !!! Carpe diem : he has a very good running economy !!!!!!! He showed that on display closing well at the breeders cup juvenile !! I don't think he is as fit as American pharoah but has very good running economy !!!!! Made from lucky : he has peaked at the right time !!! Good to use under exotics How to bet race : put mubtaahij, materiality and carpe diem 1st with American pharoah 2nd with All $10 trifecta !! Then do American pharoah 1st with mubtaahij, carpe diem, materiality 2nd with All $10 trifecta !!! I am rooting for American pharoah to beat secretariat track record if victor Espinoza goes gate to wire !!!!!!!
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
tommy I appreciate your rooting for American Pharoah. but the idea that this horse will come anywhere near Secretariat's record is just silly. Slow times in the Derby and Preakness do not point toward a record breaker. Rather they will all be gasping for air and finishing slow. and while I like Materiality the other two horses you are keying I see as 4th $ shots at best. As usual you have a lot of energy and excitement and very poor race analysis.
Benjamin Cassmer More than 1 year ago
Lol break secretariats record no way not even close in talent
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
his co2 is at max capacity right now so he will break all records! NOT!
Ed Cofino More than 1 year ago
Tommy, there's a reason Secretariat's record still stands today, 42 years after he set it. Pharaoh, I believe is a great horse, and more than likely will win the Triple Crown. But please do not mention him with Secretariat yet!! His times were slow in both the Derby & Preakness BUT I believe much better than most think. The Derby was an incredibly deep and tiring track and they made the mistake of not watering it or harrowing the track for more than 2 hours Again, I think he is and will be great but he isn't going to break the record
tommy More than 1 year ago
The Preakness was a paid workout for American pharoah !!!!!!! American pharoah is the most efficient runner in the sport !!! I was comparing secretariat to American pharoah and found that for every stride American pharoah makes, secretariat would need to make 1 1/2 strides just to keep up !!!!! American pharoah has the biggest stride length !!! That would mean secretariat would expend twice as much energy !!! The only thing that would make the race competitive is his high vo2 max and lactate threshold but even that won't help him win!!!!! I hope Espinoza goes gate to wire in Belmont stakes letting the horse run as fast as possible so that I can make an accurate vo2 max calculation !!! In the derby, Espinoza was breezing pharoah until the final furlong and then pushed him and he won by 1 length !!! American pharoah beats you on running economy !!!!!!! I bet if I give him epo drug, Espinoza can run the Belmont stakes under 2 minutes !!!!!!! I would make a bet on that !!!!!!!!!
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
I love your enthusiasm at least. Go Pharaoh!
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
Vo2 max!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I hope Espinoza goes gate to wire in Belmont Stakes letting the horse run as fast as possible so that I can make an Accurate vo2 Max Calculation." no need to wait that long Tommy, just go to where AP is stabled and stick a thermometer in his butt and while your at it stick one up yours and then compare the two. my guess is that AP will have a higher level of vo2, but one never knows!!! AK47
john g More than 1 year ago