Morry Gash/Associated Press
Danza is just one of many top Derby horses that could've made a splash in the Preakness.
The past few years have seen great, and I mean great, efforts from some of the top Derby finishers. There's 2011 when Animal Kingdom, the Derby winner, and Shackleford, fourth place in the Derby, hooked up in the homestretch at Pimlico for an epic duel. Shackleford won one for the ages.
In 2012, I'll Have Another and Bodemeister did the same thing. I'll Have Another ran him down in the Derby and Preakness. They were 1-2 in both races...on two weeks' rest.
This year? Debry finishers two through six all skipped the Preakness. Why? It's over $1 million and they'll probably run huge. Most Derby runners do well. So Commanding Curve, Danza, Wicked Strong, Samraat and Dance With Fate all passed, wanting rest.
If you believe Andrew Beyer of The Washington Post , two weeks' rest shouldn't be a problem despite trainers' fears:
Kentucky Derby winners regularly come back to deliver smashing performances in Baltimore: Funny Cide (2003) won by nearly 10 lengths, Smarty Jones (2004) won by 111 / 2 Big Brown (2008) by 51 / 2. In 2012 I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister finished 1-2 in the Derby, then ran much faster in the Preakness and finished 1-2 again. None of them bounced. When Derby winners have flopped in Baltimore — such as Orb in 2013■ and Super Saver in 2010 — the explanation may be that they benefited from perfect trips at Churchill and didn’t get such an easy setup at Pimlico.
At least one of them should be at Pimlico, but alas, none of them are.