The 2011 Preakness Stakes is tomorrow, and with the field now completely set, as well as everyone deciding to be a horse-racing expert for the next two days, there are a lot of predictions being tossed about.
Perhaps notable today is that the terrain is starting to dry back up after being muddy all week, and that could create changes for how the horses fare. Some may have liked the muddy terrain, and losing that advantage could hurt them.
As for the race itself, there are many different things that could happen with these 14 horses, and as we saw in the Kentucky Derby, a horse could come out of nowhere to win. What will happen on Saturday?
Here are 10 bold predictions for tomorrow's event.
I've been saying all week that the track is going to be rather slow due to how much rain there has been, both in Baltimore and across the country, all week. With the weather looking to be surprisingly great tomorrow, I'll be eating my words.
Instead of a slow track, the dirt will dry just enough to make it a rather straightforward fast track, to the advantage of pretty much every horse who wasn't loving the mud.
There are many experts who are saying that Dialed In's Kentucky Derby performance was a fluke and that the horse will rebound. A few go further and say that he will notch a win.
That's not going to happen. Yes, he pulled through in the final stretch and jumped back into the top 10, but he never came close to competing for that top spot. There aren't going to be openings where he can push through, so I see him at best pulling into the top five late.
Shackleford surprised many in the Kentucky Derby after leading the race until the final stretch, where he slipped down to fourth. I expect the same thing to happen in the Preakness.
Shackleford has shown great acceleration to start races, but he has not yet shown the ability to finish, and that will come back to bite him again tomorrow. He'll finish well, but he may just miss the top three yet again.
Despite horse racing seeming to be on the downswing, the Kentucky Derby had well over 150,000 people attend, and the Preakness is looking to bring in a huge crowd as well.
With the weather looking to be ideal tomorrow, as well as the Infield likely to bring in the casual fan, I would be shocked if attendance did not hit six figures. It won't hit the Kentucky Derby's mark of course, but it will do very well.
With only a handful of the 14 horses coming from the Kentucky Derby, many horses are inexperienced in regards to a tougher field. Combine this with the fact that horses who raced in the Derby are likely tired, and you have yourself a tightly packed group of horses.
Sure, a couple will slip to the back and a couple will break through and finish at the top, but there will be no landslides one way or the other.
Going off point No. 6, the Kentucky Derby likely tired a few of these horses out. It's the primary reason why Nehro was kept out of the Preakness. Combine that with a muddy track this week and the horse's practices were not ideal.
As a result, a few of the horses from the Derby will fare worse than expected. Dialed In, Midnight Interlude and Shackleford in particular may end up doing surprisingly bad. Based on their practices, I'm not worried about Mucho Macho Man or Animal Kingdom here.
In every race, at least one horse has to finish last, and it can be just as difficult to pick that horse out, if not more so, than who is going to win. The one who will bring up the rear looks to be Isn't He Perfect.
The horse has raced in 12 events, but has failed to make a real impact in any major race. He has not looked too great in practice, and all his experience in smaller events likely won't help him against a tougher pack. Being on the outside edge hurts him as well.
Dance City is my pick to be the shocker of this year's Preakness. While the horse won't win, he has looked amazing in practices and looked great at the Arkansas Derby as well.
Gene Menez at Sports Illustrated is also high on this horse: "This is a game horse that hates being passed. In his last two races he has re-rallied after being headed by another foe. His last effort, a third in the Arkansas Derby, was particularly promising."
Mucho Macho Man is a threat to win every race he enters, and this one is no exception, as I expect both him and Animal Kingdom to go after each other wire to wire.
After finishing third at the Derby, this horse is looking to improve, and on top of that he seems to get better with every race. He's the favorite to upset Animal Kingdom, and while I don't think he'll win, he will make this a very exciting race.
Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby, but more importantly, the way he won it was entirely convincing. He stayed with the pack, yet in the final stretch burst past everyone and looked good in winning the Derby.
With a smaller field and fewer horses to block him off, I expect Animal Kingdom to do the same again. While there's the possibility of a horse cutting him off and preventing a Preakness win, I don't see it happening here.