Welcome back, loyal reader. Before delving into the minutia of what should be a wide-open and entertaining Preakness Stakes, let’s briefly address the question that’s hung over horseracing since the official call from the Churchill Downs stewards came through:
Should MAXIMUM SECURITY have been DQ’d from winning the Kentucky Derby?
It’s a complicated question that involves several relevant data points, not the least of which was the action of four thoroughbreds running at 30 mph, in close quarters, around a bend, on a muddy track. What constituted grounds for a DQ can be – and has been – analyzed on a frame-by-frame basis. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, the stewards utilized every resource available at their disposal to come up with what I believe to be the correct decision. The actions of MAXIMUM SECURITY and his jockey went further than to contravene NTRA rules – they were downright dangerous. Were that horse to clip hooves with WAR OF WILL (something that was avoided through quick thinking and sheer luck), the resulting spill would have been catastrophic. I don’t personally buy into the argument that they should have left result since the winner was “much the best.” While that appeared to be the case, there’s simply no way of knowing what WOULD HAVE happened in the absence of the infraction. And, more importantly, that point is irrelevant when considering the safety of the horses and jockeys in a sport that’s often proven itself incapable of doing so. (Thank you for coming to my TED Talk).
In the ensuing controversy, it seemed that everyone had an opinion. From the amateur TV viewer to the lifetime railbirds, there was no shortage of thoughts on “letter of the rule vs intent of the rule” in debating something that had never previously happened in the history of the Kentucky Derby (i.e. winner DQ’d). And seeing as COUNTRY HOUSE, at 65/1(!), was placed 1st, it’s no wonder that the impact of the decision was so far-reaching. Even our President chimed in with his opinion that, although misguided, should nonetheless be commended for almost correctly spelling a state over which he presides.
So now comes the inevitable griping and lawsuits and non-stop talking heads yakking. That’s the bad. The good, as it pertains the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes, is that the sport has generated a certain amount of buzz, for better or worse. The average person at least heard about what happened and is aware that the horseys will race again tomorrow. For the more ardent fans of the Sport of Kings, this year’s edition of the second crown jewel of the Triple Crown offers far more than just sideshow appeal. To start, this will be the first time since 1996 that the Kentucky Derby winner is not running in the Preakness, and that was due to injuries sustained in the race. You’d have to go back to 1985, when SPEND A BUCK’s owners elected to withhold the colt from the Preakness following his Derby win. This is significant, as those of you that follow my inane diatribes will remember that the Kentucky Derby winner was made the morning line favorite for the Preakness in each of the last seven consecutive years, winning all seven times.
This year, not only will the Preakness fail to feature the Kentucky Derby winner (either of them), but the race will also be without the eventual 2nd and 3rd place finishers, meaning that none of the first four horses to hit the wire in Churchill will head to Pimlico. Along with all the regular question marks that are unique to the Preakness Stakes, this year’s race, on paper, appears to be far more interesting. With the pace dynamics projected for this race, we should see hot opening fractions. Toss in the presence of a couple deep closers, and it’s possible that this is the year we finally see an out-of-the-clouds longshot light up the tote board and send the Pimlico crowds into a frenzy. Speaking of which…
Last year, the Preakness infield party got its chance to shine in the main section of this writeup, after years of toiling away in the final footnote (below). And shine it did – it will forever remain a mainstay so long as I continue to do this. Building on last years’ success (the 1st year with the Stronach Group at the helm), Infieldfest has apparently dropped Budweiser as an official sponsor, while continuing to add big name musical talent, this year featuring headliners Kygo, Diplo, and Logic (among others). As for refreshments, the “MUG & Vine Club” ($159/ticket) returns for the 2nd consecutive year and will be joined by the aptly named “MUG Club” ($129/ticket) for those who don’t care to pony up the extra $30 for Franzia. Last year’s “Effen VIP Lounge” is replaced by “Comfort VIP” ($199/ticket) which just sounds sort of creepy and whose entry does NOT include food & drink. Finally, the official website lists an option for “VIP Bottle Service Reservations,” which does not appear on the map and has no price listed. If anyone can confirm that this is where they now hold the Port-a-Potty Dash and Miss Baltimore Bikini Contest, please let me know.
One final note - While I'm listing my exacta/trifecta ideas here, I think the play is also to use the surrounding races in Daily Doubles/Pick 3s. You'll get better value there than on the single-race exotics. On to the good stuff…
Advice from our resident Horseman:
1) ANOTHERTWISTAFATE 12
2) IMPROBABLE 4 WILL BE BOXING IN AN
3) BOURBON WAR 2 EXACTAS/TRIFECTAS
LONG SHOT – BODEXPRESS 9 (MAIDEN GETS MAJOR PILOT UPGRADE,
WILL FINALLY GET A DRY TRACK TO SHOWCASE TALENTS)
KEY FACTS & FIGURES
- The Preakness Stakes winner is draped in a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland (also the official whiskey-based drink of The Preakness)
- The highest number of winners (16) have come from the # 6 post (MARKET KING, 30/1, this year)
- Not one of the 13 horses entered this year have raced at Pimlico
- Since 1932, the Kentucky Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness 25 times (11 times since 1997), including Triple Crown winner Justify, last year
- Since 2001, 14 of the 18 Preakness winners have paid $8.80 or less. Five of the winners went off at EVEN money or less. The biggest price in that time frame was Oxbow, who returned $32.80 in 2013 (the same year I wrote him up here as my long-shot special, just saying)
- The betting favorite has won 73 of the 143 editions of the Preakness (51%)
- Of the 13 horses entered in this year’s Preakness, 10 were bread in Kentucky, 2 were bred in Florida, and 1 was bred in Maryland (ALWAYSMINING, 8/1). The last Maryland-bred to win the Preakness was the Deputed Testmony (1983)
- 74 out of 143 Preakness winners lifetime have been bay-colored horses (51.7%)
- The weather forecast for race time is 75 F and sunny with a 0% chance of rain
Remember, these are just our thoughts and are in no way an endorsement to wager on these horses (or to wager, period). Good luck and enjoy!