Vinery LTD presents the Paulick Preakness Index: Will He Have Another in Baltimore?
One horse made the race, and ‘another’ horse won it.
That about sums up a Kentucky Derby in which Bodemeister scorched the Churchill Downs track for nine and a half furlongs, leaving his frontrunning rivals wobbly-legged through the final quarter mile. Only I’ll Have Another, who got a perfect ride from Derby rookie Mario Gutierrez, could catch Bodemeister in the final strides.
In addition to confirming the freakish talent of Bodemeister, the Derby also chalked one up for the West Coast, as the California-based runners not only finished one-two but filled in five of the top eight spots.
In Baltimore, I’ll Have Another will try to stay unbeaten for the year while keeping the Triple Crown dream alive, but it’s entirely possible he won’t be the Preakness favorite if trainer Bob Baffert decides to take Bodemeister to Pimlico.
Last year, fourth-place Derby finisher Shackleford, after leading for much of the Derby through significantly slower fractions than Bodemeister set, went to Baltimore and took care of business at the nine-and-a-half furlong distance, denying Derby winner Animal Kingdom a shot at the Triple Crown. A similar scenario could unfold this year with Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another. But can Bodemeister come back in two weeks after what had to be a taxing performance in the Derby? Can I’ll Have Another, who seems to relish a bit of space between races, do the same?
And, of course, there will be other Derby runners looking to have a say on Preakness day as well as the usual new shooters coming in with the advantage of a bit more rest. For the second consecutive year, it appears the Preakness will have a full field of 14, and this year, for he first time, two also-eligibles will be allowed.
Of the Derby runners, in addition to I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, potential Preakness starters include Dullahan (3rd), Went the Day Well (4th), Creative Cause (5th), Hansen (9th) and Optimizer (11th). Liaison (6th) is also a possibility. The newcomers include Hierro and Paynter, the one-two finishers in the Derby Trial at Churchill, Pretension and Brimstone Island, the top two finishers of the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico, Teeth of the Dog and Tiger Walk, who finished 3rd and 4th in the Wood Memorial, and Cozzetti, 4th in the Arkansas Derby.
Paynter and Bodemeister are owned by Ahmed Zayat and trained by Baffert, and since both have front-running styles, one of them would likely skip the Preakness. At this point, Bodemeister seems more probable for Baltimore.
Plans for seventh-place Derby finisher Union Rags are still up in the air, but trainer Michael Matz said he may wait for the Belmont, depending on how the colt does in the next few days.
This week’s Paulick Preakness Index is a bit loosey-goosey since it’s still unclear who will make the trip to Baltimore, but by next Tuesday, we should have a much better idea of the field.