The Preakness is days away, as Kentucky Derby 138 is in the books. In an effort to begin to think about handicapping the 2nd jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, here are 10 things to know about the 137th Preakness.
1.) No matter how what viewpoint you take, Bodemeister was lengths the best in the Derby. In analyzing the Trakus stats for the race, it is incredible that Bodemeister ran the 6th fastest quarter in the field from the 6f to 8f mark. This is when he attempted to make a break for it before tiring in the final furlong. He was the most heroic in defeat since Closing Argument in 2005 or Congaree in 2001.
2.) The most underrated performance of the Derby came from Creative Cause. While it seems like he hung badly after finding himself within striking distance, the Trakus stats tell quite a tale. Creative Cause traveled 6,709 feet, 29 feet more than the winner and 70 more than Bodemeister. The fastest 4th quarter of the race, from the 6f-8f mark, was earned by Creative Cause, who went 49.12 in that section. He also posted the 4th fastest final 3 furlongs, with only plodders like Dullahan, Union Rags and Went the Day Well going faster.
3.) The “new shooters” in the Preakness are decidedly up against it. In the last 28 runnings of the Preakness, the winner had run in the Derby on 25 occasions. The three non-Derby participants to win were Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006), and Rachel Alexandra (2009). Bernardini and Rachel Alexandra had run in the 21 days leading up to their respective Preakness wins and all three were graded stakes winners. Clearly, the Preakness rewards sharp horses.
4.) The non-Derby participants who are supposedly headed to Baltimore are Pretension, Brimstone Island, Cozzetti, Hierro, Paynter, Teeth of the Dog, Tiger Walk, and Zetterholm. Those 8 horses are a combined 1-13 in graded stakes races. Hierro is the lone graded stakes winner and that came in the one-turn Derby Trial.
5.) Graham Motion is just 1-10 with graded stakes horses coming back in 14 days or less. One of those failures, of course, was Animal Kingdom a year ago in this race. It has never been Motion’s M.O. to bring horses back quickly, so you have to wonder if the ownership of Went the Day Well is simply looking to avenge last year’s defeat.
6.) Bob Baffert has won 47 Grade I races over the last five years, good for a 24% win rate and a positive $2.46 ROI. However, the average time off those winners had coming into their Grade I victories was just over 47 days, well more than the 14 for Liaison and Bodemeister and 21 for Paynter.
7.) Doug O’Neill is just 1 for 13 with graded stakes horses coming back in 14 days or less, but 24% overall with dirt horses coming back in two weeks or less (positive ROI).
8.) The last six first-time Derby winning jockeys all came back to win the Preakness as well (Smarty Jones, Canonero, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Kauai King, Tim Tam). This gives you the idea that each of them were on a horse that was very good, which almost made the Preakness a free roll.
9.) The last Preakness winner who was exiting the Derby that finished worse than 6th at Churchill Downs was Louis Quatorze, way back in 1996. Generally, horses who fare very poorly in the Derby once again struggle in the Preakness.
10.) If there is a trainer who you can trust when they’re bringing a horse back quickly, it is Mike Maker. He has hit at a 29% clip with horses coming back in 1-14 days, good for a $2.37 ROI. Given the way Hansen lost it before the start of the Derby, a much better effort can be expected of him if he runs in the Preakness.
I’ll be back with more thoughts over the weekend, but best of luck if you are already beginning to analyze the Preakness!