Preakness 2013: Contenders That Will Benefit from Shorter Track

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIMay 13, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04:  Jockey Joel Rosario guides Orb to the finish line to win the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 2013 Preakness Stakes is scheduled for May 18 at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, and it will feature many of the same horses who competed in the recent Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

For those that did well at the Derby, they'll simply be looking for another strong showing here in the second leg of the Triple Crown. But for many, the Preakness Stakes will provide a chance to rectify the mistakes they made at Kentucky and allow them to bounce back with a stellar performance.

One of the biggest reasons why this is possible is because of the track.

Not only will it likely be a lot drier and more compact than the rain-soaked Kentucky Derby was, the track at Preakness is notably shorter than that at Churchill Downs.

The Derby takes place over 10 furlongs (or 1.25 miles) while Preakness is done over 9.5 furlongs (or 1 and 3/16 miles). That might not seem like much of a difference, but the shorter track will benefit a number of horses this year, and we should several standout performers on the day because of it.

Which contenders will benefit the most from the shorter track?

Read on and find out.



Goldencents finished well off the pace at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month and seemingly didn't deserve the contender status that many had given him. 

But on the shorter track at Pimlico, expect him to thrive once again.

I've written previously about the fact that Kevin Krigger definitely pulled up Goldencents when he knew that he couldn't win, and that he therefore wasn't that far behind the eventual winner. I also noted in that piece that I believed a shorter track would definitely suit Goldencents, and we should see whether that's true when he lines up in the Preakness Stakes.

He showed he can win on the shorter track at the Santa Anita Derby, and if he can do that there, he's a great chance to repeat the process at Pimlico next weekend.

Goldencents is a strong horse with a good jockey on board, and with a sprinter's pedigree, it seems more than likely he'll be a big contender on Saturday.



Departing didn't run the Kentucky Derby this year, so we don't know how he would have fared over the longer course at Churchill Downs. But having watched this horse previously, it's clear that Departing is more than capable of finding success on the shorter track and will be a real contender at Pimlico.

Having dominated in New Orleans, Departing then showed great form at the Louisiana Derby and the Illinois Derby. His run in Louisiana saw him finish third to two horses (Revolutionary and Mylute) who both finished top five at the Kentucky Derby, and his run at the Illinois Derby (see above) saw him pull away from the field over the concluding stages.

Departing has all the skills required to be a big contender at Pimlico this weekend, and he should thrive over the shorter track offered than at Churchill Downs.



Orb will be the overwhelming favorite for the race after emerging triumphant from a mud-soaked field to dominate the Kentucky Derby. And given that he's perhaps more suited to a shorter track than the one at Churchill Downs, he appears very tough to beat this weekend at Pimlico.

He's won over 1 and 1/16 miles at Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth earlier in the year and follow that up with victory over 1 and 1/8 miles at the Florida Derby.

Joel Rosario has developed a great combination with Orb, and having shown he can win from either the back of the pack (like the Derby) or from the front like some of his other wins, you'd have to think that he'll be incredibly tough to run down if he gets his nose in front in this race.

Given that 12 of the last 35 horses to win the Derby have gone on and won the Preakness, I think it's fairly safe to suggest that Orb is a pretty big chance in this one.


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