2012 Preakness Stakes Handicapping Advice: Fresh Horses
by Trevor Whenham - 5/16/2012
If you want to have a pretty good chance of picking the Preakness winner in any given year you should almost always concentrate on the horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier. Of the last 40 Preakness winners only seven did not run in the Derby. In the last 28 editions there have only been three fresh horses that won, so the trend is becoming even more pronounced recently.
To make it even more likely that the Preakness winner this year will come from the Kentucky Derby field you only need to look at the last two fresh winners — Rachel Alexandra and Bernardini. The former is one of the greatest three-year-old fillies we have seen in a generation, while Bernardini was an inexperienced but wildly-talented horse who surprised no one with his success. In other words, they were new entrants to the Triple Crown trail, but they were clearly already stars.
There is clearly no star in the crop of fresh horses joining the trail this year. Not even close judging by what they have shown us. In fact, it seems like a particularly underwhelming group of new entrants — and that’s saying something after the unimpressive group last year.
Given the lack of anything particularly noteworthy amongst these horses and the talent among several of the Derby horses, it would be a shocking upset if a fresh horse won the Preakness.
Here’s a look at the horses with a chance (however small) to do so:
Last time out this grey was fourth in the Arkansas Derby in the race that Bodemeister won in such incredible fashion. The fifth-place horse in that race, Atigun, had an impressive win on the Derby undercard, though against much weaker competition than this. Third-place finisher Sabercat was an irrelevant 15th in the Derby. Before that Cozzetti was third in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Prospective, the horse that went on to finish 18th in Kentucky. In other words, this horse isn’t good enough to beat horses that aren’t good enough to compete against the best of this class.
The good news is that he is a rare horse that has not only run at Pimlico before the Preakness, but won over the track. Last time out he took the Canonero II stakes. The problem is that he beat a small and undistinguished field there — the best horse was My Adonis, the also-eligible horse in the Kentucky Derby — and in previous outings in the Illinois Derby and Gotham against better horses he was outclassed. The only nice thing I can say about him is that his sire, Bluegrass Cat, is my wife’s favorite horse. That’s not going to make him nearly fast enough to win here, though.
Teeth of the Dog
In the Wood Memorial Gemologist bested Alpha in a thrilling stretch duel that showed tremendous heart. Unfortunately, neither horse was particularly a factor in the Derby. Finishing well behind those two but still good enough for third was Teeth of the Dog. That was his stakes debut. It was a solid race, but not a particularly exciting one — especially given how the top two stacked up later on. He’s another son of Bluegrass Cat, though, so I know what my wife’s losing Preakness exacta ticket will look like.
He was beaten quite soundly by Teeth of the Dog in the Wood and wound up fourth. In previous outings in the Gotham and Withers he was fourth and third. An also-ran in New York Triple Crown prep races is now poised to be an also-ran in a Maryland Triple Crown race. His only real asset here is that jockey Kent Desormeaux has twice won the Preakness and was previously wildly successful on the Maryland circuit, so no horse will have a more experienced guide.
This horse last raced a month and a half ago, winning a non-graded stakes called the Patsyprospect at Aqueduct. It was a race limited to New York-bred horses. New York is not exactly the heart of thoroughbred breeding in this country. That did cap a three-race win streak, though, with a maiden race and an allowance outing coming before. The bigger story for Zetterholm is trainer Rick Dutrow. He won the Derby and Preakness in 2008 with Big Brown, but he is currently on borrowed time with his career as he is appealing a 10-year ban for steroid use in his home state of New York.
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