The post position draw did little change the odds, but the defection of Nehro the day before the draw wreaked havoc.
Nehro was expected to go off as second- or third-choice in the field, close behind likely favorite Animal Kingdom. This will make Animal Kingdom an even heavier favorite (although likely not as heavy as the morning line suggests).
Moreover, it opens up a spot in the field for long-shot Isn't He Perfect, who is anything but his name.
Here is my updated line with a discussion of Isn't He Perfect, since I didn't talk about him in Monday's odds article.
I promised you a run-down on his chances, and I'll give it to you.
The trainer is an immigrant from Guyana where his father used to train and brother used to ride. He got out of the sport in the mid-90s to focus on his business ventures, but returned last summer with a string of horses in New York. He's done respectfully so far, and has shown a good eye for a bargain.
But he's not yet ready to make the leap into the Preakness.
I don't blame the man for wanting to be here, but Isn't He Perfect has no business being in this field.
He has been non-competitive in his three tries in stakes races and his only win against winners came against a field of four in a starter allowance at Aqueduct during the inner dirt meeting.
For those who don't follow horse racing closely, that's like saying Morris Almond was the best basketball player in March because in one D-League game he was the leading scorer.
Doodnauth Shivmangal, give it time. You'll get your Triple Crown starter. Don't embarrass the sport by putting this horse that doesn't deserve to be here in the field.
These are the other long-shots in the field. Click on the horse name to see my write-up of each horse:
13. Concealed Identity (30-1): Would make a great story, unless reality set it. Then we'd remember it is impossible.
2. Norman Asbjornson (30-1): Would make a great story, unless Michael Bay directed it. Then it would make a bad story.
14. Mr. Commons (25-1): Would make a great story, unless you realized it actually wouldn't make a great story. John Shirreffs has already hit it big many times before (cough*Zenyatta*cough*Giacomo*cough).
These are the horses that I expect to go off somewhere near the odds Animal Kingdom went off in the Kentucky Derby. If you want more information on each horse, click on his name:
3. King Congie (20-1): The draw wasn't really that critical for King Congie. He wants to be mid-pack, and the three-path should help him save some ground. But with so few horses wanting to position themselves where he'll be anyway (Animal Kingdom is the only one who comes to mind), he was likely to avoid trouble until the far turn anyway.
6. Sway Away (18-1): With two speed horses just to his inside, Sway Away has a lot of room to cut over after the break. He should get a good position. My only fear is that he did try and run with the speed in the Arkansas Derby. With all that speed next to him, I do fear that he may do the same again.
1. Astrology (18-1): Great draw for Astrology. I suggested earlier in the week that Steven Asmussen could try running Astrology from off the pace. Getting the rail opens up every possibility for this rapidly-improving colt. He won't get caught wide on the first turn, and now if he isn't rank coming out of the gate, it's okay too. He becomes much more playable with the one gate because of the litany of options.
4. Flashpoint (15-1): Drawing just to the inside of Shackleford will create the possibility of a speed duel up front. Flashpoint has no chance to make the distance and is my pick to run last. Dialed In and Sway Away would love Flashpoint to push Shackleford to quick fractions.
7. Midnight Interlude (15-1): I didn't like him despite the hype in the Derby. There's no hype around Midnight Interlude and there shouldn't be. I'll pass on all the California horses.
Here are the horses that should go off at relatively low prices. Click on the name for more information:
5. Shackleford (10-1): Nehro's defection really shouldn't affect Shackleford one bit or the other. Although Nehro stayed close to the lead in the Derby, he was never a threat to actually challenge Shackleford for the front. What does hurt Shackleford is drawing right next to Flashpoint. It could create a speed duel up front.
8. Dance City (10-1): Dance City wants to be near the lead. Breaking from the eight position is good for Dance City, and that he is surrounded by stalkers should give him a clear path towards the front of the field. I still think the distance will prove way too much for him.
10. Dialed In (5-1): As I've already said countless times, Dialed In got a dream draw, and it has nothing to do with his position. We all know Dialed In is going to drop back to last, but having Shackleford and Flashpoint next to each other is the definition of luck. He needs a quick pace; he may yet get it.
9. Mucho Macho Man (9-2): There is no way Mucho Macho Man gets as bad a trip as he did in the Kentucky Derby, where he still ran third.
11. Animal Kingdom (5-2)
All eyes will be on Animal Kingdom, and compared to any other horse in the field, the most bets. Animal Kingdom overcame trouble to win the 137th Kentucky Derby, and the smaller field will only help.
But remember, Mucho Macho Man had a horror trip, not as bad as Archarcharch (I bet Jinks Fires is still having nightmares about that entire week), but about everything that could go wrong went wrong.
And Mucho Macho Man still ran third.
I'm sticking with my pick of Animal Kingdom, but only because I want a Triple Crown winner. All signs point to Mucho Macho Man. I'm only picking with my heart.
And even if Animal Kingdom wins the Preakness, even if I'm rooting for him in the Belmont, I'm betting against him. Brilliant Speed will be waiting at a nice price in the Belmont, and I need the money.