Preakness 143 Set

The field and the post positions for this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes are now set.  The field is small, only eight runners, split between four Derby veterans and four “new shooters.” Here it is:

  1. Quip (Qualified for the Derby, connections opted not to run)
  2. Lone Sailor (Kentucky Derby 8th)
  3. Sporting Chance (DQ’ed to 4th in Bluegrass S.)
  4. Diamond King (Federico Tesio S. winner)
  5. Good Magic (Kentucky Derby 2nd)
  6. Tenfold (5th Arkansas Derby)
  7. Justify (Kentucky Derby winner)
  8. Bravazo (Kentucky Derby 6th)

Kentucky Derby Champion Justify could not have drawn better.  His primary competition, Good Magic, is to his inside where jockey Mike Smith can monitor how he breaks and where he is at the start of the race and act accordingly.  Honestly, I expect another sharp break from Mike and Justify (the move in the Derby that trainer Bob Baffert said must happen for Justify to have a chance, and indeed, it proved to be the winning move in the race as Justify encountered no traffic problems at all) and for him to be on or near the lead.  I have seen all of the horses in race run at least once; outside of Justify and Good Magic, none of them made that memorable of an impression on me.

As far as my impressions of this year’s Kentucky Derby, I didn’t write a review because I honestly didn’t have the superlatives to describe Justify’s superior and outstanding performance, especially under such adverse racing conditions.  For the record, it was the wettest Kentucky Derby in history, and to be fair, it likely hampered some contenders’ chances as not many of the colts had encountered an off track until that day.  Still, the ease with which Justify ran is indicative, in part, of what a special horse he is.

As I had said previously, my only concern about him going into the Derby was his lack of racing experience. And I’m old school enough to still maintain that racing, even if only one time as a two year old is important in developing a Triple Crown/Classic-caliber racehorse.  The fact that Justify could win the Derby handily coupled with his beautifully efficient stride shows he’s the special exception to the rule.  Win, lose or draw Saturday, in my opinion Justify is an exceptional, one-of-a-kind colt.

NOW, full disclosure, the morning after the Derby, Justify had a bruised left hind heel/hoof.  For those of you familiar with horses, when they move on/off a bruised hoof it looks pretty awful.  Fortunately, by all accounts, this was a minor issue, quickly resolved.  Watching his works since that Sunday morning he looks fine, he’s eating well, and all systems appear to be go for him to rock and roll Saturday.  Further disclosure, it’s raining in Baltimore today (Wednesday); it’s supposed to continue to rain tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday.  Do with that what you will.

Me? I think Justify wins.

Post time Saturday is 6:48 EDT on NBC.

Safe trips for all and enjoy.

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You Decide

The draw for post positions for the 144th Kentucky Derby was completed yesterday morning. Interestingly, and for a change, the horses I think with the best opportunity to win were largely unscathed by the posts they received; actually, most contenders drew very well.

So here it is:

1. Firenze Fire

2. Free Drop Billy

3. Promises Fulfilled

4. Flameaway

5. Audible

6. Good Magic

7. Justify

8. Lone Sailor

9. Hofburg

10. My Boy Jack

11. Bolt d’Oro

12. Enticed

13. Bravazo

14. Mendelssohn

15. Instilled Regard

16. Magnum Moon

17.Solomini

18. Vino Rosso

19. Noble Indy

20. Combatant

Also Eligible–Blended Citizen

You might note Quip and Gronkowski are not part of the field.  Both were withdrawn early last week.  Quip was pulled because his connections felt that the Derby was going to be asking too much of him following his efforts in the prep races to qualify.  He is being pointed to the Preakness.  Gronkowski became ill and wouldn’t recover soon enough to not only ship to the U.S., but prepare to race.  Thus, Instilled Regard and Combatant drew in; I don’t like either’s chances.  If a horse scratches prior to Friday morning, Blended Citizen will draw into Gate 20.

The horses in this field I believe with the best chance to wear the roses are Audible, Good Magic, Justify, Hofburg, My Boy Jack (who I really see as more of a place or show horse), Bolt d’Oro (who I personally don’t care for, but has some talent), Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon, and Vino Rosso (although I think he’s the good horse most compromised by his far outside draw…).

Justify has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite.  As I’ve stated before, I think Justify is the most physically gifted horse in the field, but to win the Derby Saturday in his fourth lifetime race is a GIGANTIC ASK.  So we’re either going to see a grand horse stretched too far too soon or perhaps a superstar in the making.  I can’t give a rousing endorsement to ANY of these horses, including those I’ve singled out as the best in the field because I can make as many, if not more, significant arguments as to why they can’t or won’t win.  So, sorry, but you are TRULY on your own this year picking the winner.

I am anxious to see how this race will play out.  In the ridiculous 20-horse field, my main hope and concern is that first and foremost all horses and riders have a safe trip.

There is a chance of rain in Louisville early Saturday, following what’s forecasted to be a pretty wet day Friday. Still, I’m expecting a dry, although possibly not fast track at race time. Coverage of Derby Day begins at 2:30 on NBC, post time for the Derby is 6:45 p.m.

ENJOY!