Preakness Stakes Profile: Musket Man
by Trevor Whenham - 05/07/2009
Last race: Musket Man ran a solid third place in the Kentucky Derby. Though he obviously had no chance to beat Mine That Bird on the day, he showed all sorts of courage. He stumbled early on, but recovered to settle close to the pace. He got forced six wide on the second turn, engaged in a prolonged stretch battle, and was bumped hard with about a 16th of a mile to go, but was able to hold on for third. A lesser horse would have given up several times over.
Career highlights: He has won five of his seven career starts, including impressive wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Illinois Derby in the two starts before the Kentucky Derby. He's been a solid, trustworthy horse, never ending up off the board.
Jockey: Eibar Coa. Coa picked up the ride for the first time in the Illinois Derby. He wound up on the horse almost by default in Kentucky - he would have had to choose between this horse and General Quarters, but he was too slow to make a choice, and General Quarters' connections went another way. Coa hasn't had his major breakthrough win in a big stakes race, but he has won meet titles in New York, New Jersey and Florida and is definitely an elite national jockey. He chose to stick with this mount in the Preakness over Big Drama, another entrant that he has previously ridden.
Trainer: Derek Ryan. Originally from Ireland, Ryan has been training in the U.S. since 1996. He's had some stakes success along the way, but Musket Man is by far the best horse he has ever had. He has had more than 100 starters this year - good numbers for a mid-level coach that isn't yet nationally prominent. This horse certainly won't hurt his profile.
Breeding: His sire, Yonaguska, is a developing young sire that won multiple stakes races on the track. Musket Man is his best foal to date. Yonaguska's sire, Cherokee Run, finished second in the Preakness in 1993. Cherokee Run was sired by Runaway Groom. That horse won two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, and he has a unique distinction - by winning the 1982 Travers he became the only horse ever to beat separate winners of that year's Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in the same race.
Running style: He's not typically one for dramatic moves or flashy heroics. He tends to settle just of the pace, stay out of trouble, and position himself for a successful stretch drive. The stretch drive in the Derby was the most trouble he has encountered, and he stood up well under the pressure.
Preakness prognosis: He has never been a disappointment up to this point, and he always put forward an honest effort, so it would be very hard to keep this guy out of your exotic considerations in the Preakness. He definitely has the talent to win, and there is no reason to rule him out of doing so. The Preakness is a 16th of a mile shorter than the Derby, and the shorter distance certainly doesn't hurt his chances.