Early Look at the 2010 Preakness Field
by Trevor Whenham - 5/5/2010
The dust is settling on an underwhelming Kentucky Derby. Or at least it would be settling if the track wasn't a mud bog for the race. Instead of rehashing a glacially slow race that certainly isn't going to go down as a classic, it's time to look forward to what is on the horizon.
As has typically been the case, there are a whole bunch of horses from the Derby - the majority of the field - that won't be heading to the Preakness. Some will take a break to refresh before the summer season, and there are a couple that we may never see again. Despite the attrition, it's looking like there is going to be a full field of 14 horses heading into the gate for the Preakness. Here's a look at the Derby runners who are likely heading to Baltimore, and some of the more interesting horses that will join them:
Super Saver - The reigning champ is heading to the Preakness. That has been an automatic for the winner for years, and I hope it always stays that way. He jogged for the first time at Churchill on Wednesday, and he's scheduled to ship to Baltimore May 12. That's reasonably late for a Derby winner to ship to Pimlico, but Churchill is a much more comfortable place to be than Pimlico. He came out of the Derby in good shape, and he certainly wasn't set back by running a fast time, so he should be poised to do his best at the Preakness.
Ice Box - There is a little bit of drama around the fast-closing second place finisher in the Derby. Owner Robert LaPenta believes, correctly in my eyes, that his unlucky horse was by far the best in the Derby field, and he is hungry to run him back in the Preakness. Trainer Nick Zito has a different take, though. He obviously liked the Derby effort, but he would prefer to rest the horse until the Belmont. LaPenta has now said that Zito can make the decision, but my hunch would be that we'll see him in Baltimore. The same connections also have Jackson Bend, who finished 12th in the Derby. He's currently pointed at the Preakness.
Paddy O'Prado - The somewhat surprising third-place Derby finisher appears likely to head to the Preakness. He's clearly in shape, and the Preakness distance should suit him well. He has already jogged twice - more than any other Derby runner - and came out of the Derby is great shape.
Noble's Promise - He ran a solid fifth, and didn't look like he was entirely stretched doing it. He also didn't look totally comfortable with the wet track, so a better effort is possible.
Lookin at Lucky and Conveyance - Both of these Bob Baffert horses are under Preakness consideration, but Baffert is being patient with them. He'll wait until they have worked a couple of times before he commits one way or the other, but my guess is that Lookin at Lucky will go for sure, and Conveyance, though much less likely, is still a possibility. Lookin at Lucky is still the classiest of this group of three year olds, but he has had so much bad luck recently that you have to wonder if he is capable of avoiding trouble. Baffert knows that he is good enough to win the Preakness, and the trainer is too much of a competitor to pass on that chance. Conveyance could be spent after setting a torrid early pace in the Derby, and may be better served waiting for a softer spot.
Dublin - Besides Super Saver, Dublin, who finished seventh in the Derby, is the only confirmed Preakness starter from this group. D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer, is old school, so he wouldn't hesitate to run his horse back if he was happy with the Derby performance - and he was. Lukas has another runner, Northern Giant, who he is aiming at the Preakness as well.
Other interesting possibles
Todd Pletcher isn't going to have the large contingent he had in Kentucky, but he's likely to have two runners, with Aikenite joining Super Saver. Aikenite was a strong Derby contender early in the spring, but struggled later on and didn't have the earnings to make the Derby field despite a last ditch effort to earn them. He'd only be a serious contender if he ran his best race, and I'm not sure that that is likely.
Dale Romans, the trainer of Paddy O'Prado, is also likely to have a new Preakness entrant - First Dude, who was third in the Blue Grass Stakes, is heading to Baltimore.
John Sadler had an awful Derby - Sidney's Candy was 17th and Line of David was 18th - but he's not giving up on this Triple Crown. Those two horses will return to California for a break, but Hurricane Ike, the winner of the Derby Trial last time out, is likely heading to Baltimore.
Caracortado was an interesting horse who was a top Derby contender early in the spring, but he fell off the trail with a lousy fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. The value of that race is questionable after the top two horses disappointed in the Derby, but Caracortado still seems pointed to the Preakness.
Pleasant Prince was one of the 22 horses to officially enter the Kentucky Derby, but he was excluded from the field because he didn't have enough earnings. He's going to try for the Preakness instead, and this time he should be able to get in.
The Wood Memorial looked like a strong race this year, but it has been filled with disappointments. Eskendereya was injured before the Derby. Second-place finisher Jackson Bend was a non-factor in the Derby. Third-place finisher Awesome Act was terrible in Kentucky, and came out of the race injured. Despite that, fourth place Wood finisher Schoolyard Dreams seems ready to give the Preakness a try.
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