The day for the running of the 137th Preakness Stakes is finally here. Later today, at about 6:18 p.m. ET, 11 horses will take the Pimlico race track gunning for a piece of history.
That piece of history is immortality as the winner would have won the second jewel of America's horse racing Triple Crown.
But most of the expectation for this race is about being one of the most anticipated rematches in recent years. The Kentucky Derby top-two finishers, I'll Have Another and Bodemeister, will square-off for the second jewel of the U.S. horse racing Triple Crown.
Wagering opened today at 9 a.m. ET and DRF.com reported the early odds showing Bodemeister to have the early-tote favoritism at 7-5. Derby winner I'll Have Another followed at 7-2, Went the Day Well at 9-2 and Creative Cause at 6-1 rounded up the top four betting choices.
At first glance, it looks like the race should not go beyond those four horses. If you want to add a fifth horse with a chance to win it has to be Daddy Nose Best at 13-1, who follows suit being the fifth betting choice.
The race certainly seems to be decided between those top five horses. Anyone else beyond this quintet should be considered a major upset regardless of their odds—on paper the rest look thoroughly over-matched.
If you start looking beyond the top five, you have Tiger Walk (15-1) and Teeth of the Dog (16-1). They finished fourth and third respectively at the Wood Memorial, but the uninspiring finish by Gemologist and Alpha (first and second at the Wood) in the Derby don't validate their chances.
One quick note on Tiger Walk from ESPN.com, Kent Desormeaux was replaced by Ramon Dominguez after Desormeaux failed a breathalyzer test at Belmont Park on Friday and was removed from his three mounts by that track’s stewards.
Tiger Walk's owners decided on replacing Desormeaux. Tom Millikin, GM for Sagamore Farms said:
“We’re trying to run a professional operation and can’t have any distractions this weekend, we spoke with Kent and wished him well.”
Now, back to the race, if you want to look for some long shots go with Cozzetti at 30-1. All signs point to him being a live long shot as he is training excellent (:58.4 at 5F) and has been improving his Beyers in double figures on his last three races. His trainer Dale Romans won the Preakness last year with Shackleford.
If you don't like him, another long shot you could take a look at would be Zetterholm at 25-1. Although his Beyers are not moving anyone to the betting box, he has won his last three in a row and has shown a very good late kick. He needs to improve his numbers big time, but stranger things happen in racing so beware.
If Optimizer at 25-1 or Pretension at 35-1 go on to win this race, it goes beyond my understanding and will only strongly understate my previous comment about stranger things happening in racing.
Bodemeister is definitely the horse to catch and there is no questioning why he is the betting favorite. With a Hall of Fame trainer (Bob Baffert) and jockey (Mike Smith) and being the lone speed in the race, it looks like the race will be just another workout for him.
Just let him go to the lead and stretch his legs as he paces every other horse around the track wire-to-wire up front. Let's just close the win bets and start betting for place.
I respect that fact and totally understand why most of the experts and fans alike are pouring in to crown him the Preakness champion. I am not on that bandwagon and remain out of it. I might get burned, but I'll stick by it.
This horse is facing his third big race in five weeks, and I thoroughly refuse to think that every stalker in this race will just let him run away with the race. This is the Triple Crown's second leg, you don't just budge and accept your fate.
Derby winner I'll Have Another, Creative Cause and Pretension have tactical speed and you can bet their connections already have mapped out the post where they will go at Bodemeister. Everyone knows he will have an easy and controlled pace set up.
I expect the first checks to come as early as they straighten up in the backstretch. Especially from I'll Have Another or Pretension. Joel Rosario will bide his time just behind them as well as John Velazquez on Went the Day Well and Julien Leparoux with Daddy Nose Best.
By the three-quarter mile pole, I'll Have Another will engage Bodemeister and make jockey Mike Smith start putting some positioning, while Went the Day Well from lane three and Creative Cause just to his outside will start making their moves from third and fourth respectively.
As they turn for home I'll Have Another will be in a full-out battle with Bodemeister and Went the Day Well with Creative Cause a length behind on their outside.
I expect Went the Day Well and Creative Cause to pass them in the final furlong and go on a mano-a-mano to the wire with Went the Day Well prevailing over the warrior horse Creative Cause by a head.
I think that I'll Have Another has no other chance than to engage early and that will cost him the win here and Bodemeister will just fall to the stress of having to run a third big race in five weeks—his sixth this year.
I am not encouraged by Daddy Nose Best after his poor showing in the Derby even when Leparoux returns to ride him. Maybe that was what affected him, but he had world-class Garrett Gomez aboard then, so I am not sold on him rebounding here but if it happens then the jockey was the factor.
This will be an interesting race as I will be looking for what I just predicted for you to happen. Many will be looking for Bodemeister to crush the field, many others want to have a huge incentive to watch the Belmont and want I'll Have Another to win and go fir the Triple Crown.
Others will be rooting for some of the rest of the horses, but whichever is the reason for watching the Preakness, make sure you don't miss it. Remember, this is the 12th race of a 16-race card today and will be televised by NBC as part of their two-hour telecast starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Predicted First Five
1st - Went the Day Well
2nd - Creative Cause
3rd - I'll Have Another
4th - Bodemeister
5th - Daddy Nose Best
Preakness Stakes | Grade I | Purse: $1 Million | Distance: 9.5 furlongs | Post Time: 6:18 p.m. ET
|1||Tiger Walk||Ramon A. Dominguez ||Ignacio Correas IV||15-1|
|2||Teeth of the Dog||Joe Bravo||Michael R. Matz||16-1|
|3||Pretension||Javier Santiago||Christopher W. Grove||35-1|
|4||Zetterholm||Junior Alvarado||Richard E. Dutrow Jr.||25-1|
|5||Went the Day Well||John R. Velazquez||H. Graham Motion||9-2|
|6||Creative Cause||Joel Rosario||Mike Harrington||6-1|
|7||Bodemeister||Mike E. Smith||Bob Baffert||7-5|
|8||Daddy Nose Best||Julien R. Leparoux||Steven M. Asmussen||13-1|
|9||I'll Have Another||Mario Gutierrez||Doug F. O'Neill||7-2|
|10||Optimizer||Corey S. Nakatani||D. Wayne Lukas||25-1|
|11||Cozzetti||Jose Lezcano||Dale L. Romans||30-1|