Preakness Stakes Post Positions and Potential Impact
by Trevor Whenham - 05/13/2009
The horses are entered, the posts are drawn, and the morning line odds are set. The only thing that stands between us and the crowning of a Preakness winner is time. Here's how the starting gate will be loaded up on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. EST for the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes.
1. Big Drama - John Velazquez - 10/1
2. Mine That Bird - Mike Smith - 6/1
3. Musket Man - Eibar Coa - 8/1
4. Luv Gov - Jamie Theriot - 50/1
5. Friesan Fire - Gabriel Saez - 6/1
6. Terrain - Jeremy Rose - 30/1
7. Papa Clem - Rafael Bejarano - 12/1
8. General Quarters - Julien Leparoux - 20/1
9. Pioneerof The Nile - Garrett Gomez - 5/1
10. Flying Private - Alan Garcia - 50/1
11. Take The Points - Edgar Prado - 30/1
12. Tone It Down - Kent Desormeaux - 50/1
13. Rachel Alexandra - Calvin Borel - 8/5
The first thing that jumps out when you look at the post positions is where Rachel Alexandra will be starting from. She's a horse that likes to get to the lead early on and stay there, but it's a long way from the 13th spot in the gate to the lead. There's always a chance that a horse can burn itself out making a move like that if she isn't in the right headspace. She has only started further out than the fifth spot once in her 10 career starts, and that was only out in the ninth spot. It's another unknown for a horse that already has a few of those to overcome. She'd have been far more attractive at her price if she was starting closer to the rail.
Second choice Pioneerof The Nile is more familiar with the spot he drew. He has twice started out of the No. 9 spot, and he won once from there. He also managed to finish second from the No. 15 spot in the Derby.
There is no sense in spending any time at all considering the positioning of Mine That Bird. He'll be looking to drop to the back of the field as soon as he can, and you can get there from any spot in the gate.
The middle of gate is generally a prime position in any race. That is good news for both co-third choice Friesan Fire and intriguing longshot and Blue Grass Stakes winner General Quarters. General Quarters won the Blue Grass out of the same eight spot he is in this time. Friesan Fire was fourth his only time out of the No. 5 spot, but he twice won from the sixth position. Of course, he also started in the No. 6 when he wound up 18th in the Derby.
In 2006, Bernardini won out of the eight spot, and Sweetnorthernsaint finished second out of post No. 7. The next year, Curlin, No. 4, finished ahead of Street Sense, No. 8. No. 7 Hard Spun finished third. Big Brown started out of the No. 7 spot last year. Macho Again was second starting in the far inside gate.
In terms of the prices, a few things jump out. Rachel Alexandra was set at a bit of a higher price than I expected her to be, but the post position probably contributed to that. I full expect that price to fall between now and post time. Pioneerof The Nile at 5/1 seems to be a fair price, and I would see it as a bargain if he was still there by post time. I'm not a big believer in Friesan Fire, but a lot of people obviously are. 6/1 in a 13-horse field is far more attractive than 7/2 in a 19-horse field, so this will be attractive for people willing to give the horse a mulligan. I was a little surprised to see Mine That Bird at 6/1. He deserves to be the third or fourth choice as he is, but this price just seems so hard to believe compared to the 51/1 price he faced just two weeks ago. It's not often you see a horse that is any harder than this to get a sense of, so it's hard to determine whether this price is fair or if it's ridiculous. That's a question for you to figure out for yourself.
As for the rest, Musket Man seems a little underpriced at 8/1, Papa Clem at 12/1 and General Quarters at 20/1 seem reasonably priced, Big Drama doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me at 10/1 (I expected him to be more in the 20/1 range), and for better or for worse I'm not going to worry about anyone beyond that.