It has been almost two weeks since Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel shocked the sports world with their improbable long shot victory in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. And as with any Derby aftermath, the question lingers in the air; will this be the year we end the Triple Crown drought? If our voters are any indication, the answer is an emphatic no as Mine That Bird is ranked in fourth place among the 14 horses prospective Preakness starters.
Furthermore, Calvin Borel's decision to forego the Derby hero to ride the amazing Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, an unprecedented move in the 135 years of the Kentucky Derby, goes even more to the point that this may not be the year racing celebrates its 12th Triple Crown champion. Instead, the consensus of our 23 voters, including the fans, was overwhelmingly in favor of Rachel Alexandra to run away with this much anticipated race. Will this hold true? Will trainer Bob Baffert spoil the Oaks/Derby story line with Pioneerof the Nile? Or perhaps we will see another unlikely outcome with a different long shot coming out of nowhere to take the prize. Only Saturday will tell.
Ray Paulick's Preakness Analysis
1-Pioneerof the Nile. Sure, he looked like he was running in slow motion in the Kentucky Derby compared to Mine That Bird when he rocketed up the rail to victory, but I think the condition of the racetrack had a lot to do with the outcome of the race. Pioneerof the Nile was well off the rail on what I think was the slower part of the track all the way and closer to the pace than expected. I liked the son of Empire Maker going into the Derby, and I think he dispelled concerns that he was a horse that could only run on synthetic tracks. His workout on Monday morning that prompted trainer Bob Baffert to give Pioneerof the Nile the green light to go to Pimlico indicates he came out of the Derby in very good shape.
2- Papa Clem. Smart Strike colt wanted to run more in the early going of the Kentucky Derby while jockey Rafael Bejarano was trying to get him to settle off the pace, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a change of tactics for the Preakness. Gary Stute-trained colt has shown versatility in the past, going to the front and setting moderate fractions to win or coming from midpack, as he did in taking the Arkansas Derby. Preakness field won't be without pace, with Big Drama and Take the Points expected to show early speed. I'd look for Papa Clem to be just behind the early leaders.
3-Rachel Alexandra. The only knock on the filly is that she hasn't really faced top-class competition yet. The Kentucky Oaks was her first Grade 1 race, and the field was pretty weak by Oaks standards. Nevertheless, what she did, running away from her beleaguered rivals to win by 20 π lengths, with her jockey sitting like a statue (except for the occasional glance back), was remarkable. This is a huge step up, and I'm not convinced that she's up to the task.
4-Friesan Fire. Big disappointment in the Kentucky Derby after being sent off as the betting favorite on a sloppy racetrack that everyone thought he would like, following his eye-catching Louisiana Derby win in the slop at Fair Ground. Got bumped around pretty good at the start and came back with some minor cuts and scrapes. A.P. Indy colt has bounced back quickly for trainer Larry Jones and his Tuesday morning workout at Pimlico (five furlongs in :58.40) was very sharp.
5-Mine That Bird. Can't take the Kentucky Derby victory away from him, no matter how strange the track might have played or how all the so-called “experts” (myself included) dismissed his chances going into the race. He was champion 2-year-old in Canada last year, and it's clear that in his two losses in New Mexico he didn't get the right kind of trip. Whether he was pushed to the lead early by Casey Lambert or moved on his own, he came up empty in the stretch of both the Borderland and Sunland Derbies. I think the track and especially a rail bias played in his favor for the Kentucky Derby, but Calvin Borel deserves a great deal of credit for saving Mine That Bird for one big run from far back. I don't see a repeat performance in the Preakness.
6-Musket Man. Finished with determination in the Kentucky Derby after suffering some early problems, closing to get third while on the far outside, the deepest or stickiest part of the racetrack that day. Never worse than third in seven lifetime starts.
7-Take the Points. Skipped the Kentucky Derby to point for the Preakness, so trainer Todd Pletcher has a very fresh horse going into the race. May not have liked the synthetic surfaces or maybe he just wasn't sharp enough to win either of his two California starts. I wouldn't be surprised to see big improvement.
8-Big Drama. Almost certain to set the pace in the Preakness, and though the Montbrook colt has stretched his speed out to 1 1/16 miles before, he hasn't done it against this level of competition.
9-General Quarters. Didn't really like his chances in the Kentucky Derby and I don't think he's moved up with his training since finishing 10th at Churchill Downs.
10-Terrain. On a five-race losing streak since being moved up from third to first in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last September. Would take a major form reversal to threaten here.
|Ray Paulick||Bradford Cummings||Fan Vote||Alex Brown||Billy Reed||Bill Finley||Valerie Grash|
|Paulick Report||Paulick Report||Paulick Report||Alex Brown Racing||Billy Reed Says||ESPN, NYT||Foolish Pleasure|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Musket Man|
|Papa Clem||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra|
|Rachel Alexandra||Musket Man||Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile||Papa Clem||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire|
|Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Mine That Bird||Papa Clem||Papa Clem|
|Mine That Bird||General Quarters||Musket Man||Musket Man||Friesan Fire||Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Musket Man||Mine That Bird||Papa Clem||Big Drama||Musket Man||Big Drama||Take The Points|
|Take The Points||Friesan Fire||General Quarters||General Quarters||General Quarters||Musket Man||Big Drama|
|Big Drama||Big Drama||Big Drama||Friesan Fire||Terrain||General Quarters||Mine That Bird|
|General Quarters||Luv Guv||Terrain||Take The Points||Big Drama||Take The Points||General Quarters|
|Terrain||Terrain||Take The Points||Flying Private||Luv Guv||Terrain||Tone It Down|
|Gary West||Dana Byerly||Bill Christine||Vic Zast
|FW Star-Telegram||Green But Game||Horserace Insider||Horserace Insider
||HRTV, Santa Anita TV
||Las Vegas R-J
||LA Newspaper Group
|Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra|
|Big Drama||Mine That Bird||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Friesan Fire||Big Drama||Papa Clem||Papa Clem||Mine That Bird||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Musket Man||Rachel Alexandra||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Musket Man||Papa Clem|
|Terrain||Friesan Fire||Musket Man||Musket Man||Musket Man||Mine That Bird||Musket Man|
|Musket Man||Papa Clem||Mine That Bird||General Quarters||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Big Drama|
|Papa Clem||General Quarters||Take The Points||Take The Points||Big Drama||General Quarters||General Quarters|
|Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile||Conservative||Big Drama||General Quarters||Terrain||Mine That Bird|
|General Quarters||Flying Private||General Quarters||Mine That Bird||Take The Points||Take The Points||Take The Points|
|Flying Private||Luv Guv||Big Drama||Tone It Down||Terrain||Big Drama||Terrain|
|Joe Drape||Andy Serling||Jessica Chapel||Martha Claussen||Brendan O'Meara||Jeff Scott||Lisa Grimm|
|New York Times||NYRA||Railbird||SureBet Racing News||The Saratogian||The Saratogian||Superfectablog|
|Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra||Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra|
|Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Big Drama||Mine That Bird||Rachel Alexandra||Friesan Fire||Musket Man|
|Mine That Bird||Big Drama||Pioneerof the Nile||Papa Clem||Take The Points||Rachel Alexandra||Papa Clem|
|Big Drama||Mine That Bird||Papa Clem||Pioneerof the Nile||Musket Man||Papa Clem||Mine That Bird|
|Papa Clem||Papa Clem||Friesan Fire||Musket Man||Big Drama||Mine That Bird||Friesan Fire|
|Musket Man||Friesan Fire||Musket Man||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Musket Man||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Terrain||Musket Man||Mine That Bird||General Quarters||Friesan Fire||General Quarters||Big Drama|
|Luv Guv||General Quarters||General Quarters||Terrain||Pioneerof the Nile||Take The Points||General Quarters|
|General Quarters||Take The Points||Take The Points||Big Drama||Terrain||Terrain||Terrain|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Conservative||Terrain||Tone It Down||Tone It Down||Big Drama||Take The Points|
|Patrick Patten||Peter Denk||Nick Kling||Simon Bray|
|Tbred Bloggers Alliance||Thoroughbred Times||The Troy Record||TVG|
|Rachel Alexandra||Mine That Bird||Rachel Alexandra||Rachel Alexandra|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Musket Man|
|Mine That Bird||Pioneerof the Nile||Musket Man||Pioneerof the NIle|
|Big Drama||Musket Man||Papa Clem||Big Drama|
|Friesan Fire||Terrain||Mine That Bird||Papa Clem|
|Papa Clem||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Mine That Bird|
|Terrain||Papa Clem||Big Drama||Friesan Fire|
|Musket Man||Big Drama||General Quarters||Take The Points|
|General Quarters||General Quarters||Take The Points||Terrain|
|Take The Points||Take The Points||Terrain||General Quarters|
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