The Kentucky Derby is not for every horse. With more and more horses better suited to shorter distances entered into the race, we often see horses in the Derby that are probably more tailored to a shorter track like the one at The Preakness.
This year was no exception, and I've identified three horses that should be major players at this year's Preakness if they are entered into the race. Let's take a look at a few potential Pimlico contenders.
On a shorter track at The Preakness (and hopefully a drier one as well), you have to like the odds for a sprinter like Verrazano. As jockey Johnny Velazquez told Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News, Verrazano never took to the wet track like Orb did:
"Mine didn't like it, and the other one did. I knew both were very good horses and I knew both would have very good chances. When it comes to the Derby, you can't ride them both."
Velazquez believes a faster track would have made the difference.
"I would think it would be a different game," said Velazquez, who won the 2011 Derby aboard Animal Kingdom. "He didn't like the track. It was the difference right now, but I'm happy for (winning trainer) Shug (McGaughey)."
The horse finished a disappointing 14th at the Derby, dying out down the stretch, but Verrazano was in the mix for a large portion of this race. He may not have been able to defeat the Curse of Apollo, but this is still a talented sprinter that could be best suited for the quick Pimlico sprint.
Like Verrazano, Goldencents didn't have the last bit of kick needed, dropping all the way down to 17th place after staying with the lead group for much of the race.
Unlike Verrazano, it didn't seem as though the track conditions bothered him. From Gary Mihoces of USA Today:
"Going into that second turn, I could feel he was back pedaling," said [trainer Doug] O'Neill. "That's never a good sign."
Goldencents dropped to 15th after a mile, and his race was over.
[Jockey Kevin] Krigger said he didn't want to be up with the fast early leaders.
"I was comfortable where I was," said the jockey. " … He just didn't get there."
O'Neill said he wasn't worried by the "sloppy" track condition. "He's such a sure-footed horse. He's not a real heavy bodied horse. I didn't think it would be a problem," he said.
Even the most talented horses can have a bad run, and it's hardly shocking that it might come at a race like the Kentucky Derby for Goldencents, a slightly longer track and larger field than the horse is accustomed to.
But don't be surprised if Goldencents recovers nicely and ends any Triple Crown hopes for Orb at The Preakness.
Itsmyluckyday was a Saturday favorite for many bettors after it was clear the track was going to be sloppy—Itsmyluckyday was one of the few horses that had won on mud—but it wasn't to be the horse's day after all, as it finished in 15th place.
Still, like both Verrazano and Goldencents, this is a horse that is better suited for a shorter track. The main question for Itsmyluckyday heading into this race was how far the horse was willing to run, and the answer was "not a mile-and-a-quarter."
But at Pimlico, the length may be just to Itsmyluckyday's liking. If the horse runs at The Preakness, Itsmyluckyday could be a very good play for bettors.
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Claude R. McGaughey III||16||$1,439,800|
|2||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||4||$400,000|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher||3||$200,000|
|4||Normandy Invasion||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown||5||$100,000|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||6||$60,000|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||2||-|
|7||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||11||-|
|8||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas||17||-|
|9||Charming Kitten||Edgar Prado||Todd Pletcher||15||-|
|10||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow||7||-|
|11||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher||9||-|
|12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||10||-|
|13||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Kenny McPeek||19||-|
|14||Verrazano||John R. Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||14||-|
|15||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa, Jr.||12||-|
|16||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek||18||-|
|17||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||8||-|
|18||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez||Rudy Rodriguez||20||-|
|19||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||13||-|
Exacta ($2 bet): 16-4 - $981.60
Trifecta: 16-4-3 - $3,462.80
Superfecta: 16-4-3-5 - $28,542.00