2015 Preakness Stakes Post Positions with Expert Betting Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 5/14/2015
I felt heading into the Kentucky Derby that this was the fastest, deepest, most talented crop of three-year-olds that I've seen in a decade. So it makes sense that this year's Preakness Stakes features one of the most competitive fields that we've seen in Pimlico in some time.
The 140th running of the Preakness Stakes will be held at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. The race will take place at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and represents the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.
There are a mere eight horses in this year's Preakness field. But I honestly feel like all but one have a legitimate shot at wearing the Black Eyed Susans.
Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah heads to Pimlico as the favorite. The Derby winner has also won the Preakness twice in the last three years, most recently with California Chrome pulling the double in 2014. The Derby horse has achieved the double six times the past 13 years and nine times since 1997.
A common narrative on the Triple Crown path the past decade is that most of the top contenders, jilted from a Kentucky Derby defeat, skip the run at Pimlico. Instead they take advantage of the extra rest and try to ambush a potential Triple Crown horse at the Belmont.
But this year the best horses at the Derby are also running at the Preakness. That includes Dortmund and Firing Line, the show and place horses, respectively, at Churchill Downs. Danzig Moon, which finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, is also in this year's Preakness field.
I was surprised that the previously-undefeated Dortmund was entered in the Preakness. This is exactly the type of horse that normally would pass on Pimlico and lie in wait for a rematch with a winded American Pharoah in Elmont.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Bob Baffert is the trainer for each of the two favorites, American Pharoah and Dortmund. The horses have different owners, and they are both competitive. But could Baffert be using Dortmund as a "shield" or "blocker" horse for American Pharoah? Wouldn't Baffert do everything he could to take a potential Triple Crown winner to the Belmont? I know that's a bit conspiratorial. But it does bear watching.
The draw for post positions took place on Wednesday, setting the field and the odds for Saturday's flight. Interestingly, the two Baffert horses drew the No. 1 (American Pharoah) and No. 2 (Dortmund) slots.
However, since 1987 (28 races) only one horse from Post 1 has won the Preakness. Admittedly, a lot of long shots have started on the rail, and that might slant the numbers a bit. But it is still some ominous history for AP to overcome.
Also, no horse has started from the No. 2 slot and won the race during that time.
The most favorable posts have been No. 6 (6) and No. 7 (5). They have accounted for 39 percent of the winners over the last three decades.
Here is a breakdown of the full field for the 140th Preakness Stakes:
1. American Pharoah (4-to-5)- I have a college friend that is an owner and who travels in these circles. He told me last month that American Pharoah is, "the best horse I've seen in 20 years." He certainly proved that at Churchill Downs, besting a loaded field with a brilliant race. American Pharoah needed the extra distance in the Derby to pull away from Dortmund and Firing Line. But he also started from an awful post (No. 18) and rode three-wide the whole race. Making a clean break from the gate and not getting pressed to the rail will be crucial. But if American Pharoah has a shot in the homestretch, it should make it two-for-two this season.
2. Dortmund (7-to-2) - Dortmund is a front-running horse, so the short distance of the Preakness should play to the horse's strength. The Derby loss snapped a streak of six straight wins from the son of Big Brown, the 2008 Derby and Preakness winner. Dortmund is a powerhouse horse. However, despite all the advantages that he had at Churchill Downs - favorable post, clean break, position on the rail down the stretch - Dortmund was a clear third. I'm not sure what has changed in the past two weeks.
3. Mr. Z (20-to-1) - This horse went off at 50-to-1 at Churchill Downs and finished a nondescript 13th. Mr. Z has just one win in 13 career starts and is essentially a filler horse. But the one thing he does have going for him is that he is a front-runner. And the Preakness, the shortest of the three TC races, lends itself to speed horses.
4. Danzig Moon (15-to-1) - This horse improved its station quite a bit with a solid showing at the Derby, finishing fifth in the 18-horse field. But Danzig Moon was still six lengths back of the winner and has never won a race longer than a mile.
5. Tale of Verve (30-to-1) - Tale of Verve didn't even qualify for the Kentucky Derby and really doesn't belong in this - or any - Triple Crown field. His top Beyer Speed Figure is just 84, and his only career win came against a feeble field at Keeneland on April 23.
6. Bodhisattva (20-to-1) - This is the "hometown favorite," a Maryland-based colt that has won on this track before. However, its trainers have said that entering the Preakness is like, "buying a lottery ticket". That doesn't instill confidence. Last year California Chrome became the first California-bred horse to win the Preakness since 1986. Bodhisattva is trying to make it back-to-back winners for the West Coast.
7. Divining Rod (12-to-1) - By the time this horse claimed its first win of the year, an April 11 sprint at Keeneland, its owners had decided not to try to prep Divining Rod for the Derby. This horse has the benefit of rest. And its Beyer and BRIS numbers are comparable to the horses in the top-tier, even if those numbers aren't in the triple digits. Also, solid jockey Javier Castellano will be piloting this mount, and that is a big part of the reason that its odds are dropping.
8. Firing Line (4-to-1) - Firing Line hasn't finished worse than second in its six career races and gave American Pharoah everything it could handle at Churchill Downs. Those horses were neck-and-neck in the final furlong, and a late burst was all that separated the pair. I expect a clean break and another front-running approach from Firing Line. He looked clearly better than Dortmund. But if he is down the stretch with American Pharoah again why would the results be any different?
Robert Ferringo is one of the top Triple Crown horse racing handicappers in the country. He posted a huge exacta win in the Kentucky Derby this year, cashing an $800 ticket with that winner, and he will have predictions in this year's Preakness. Robert correctly predicted the winner in the Preakness six consecutive years from 2007-2012 and is looking to make it seven of nine this weekend. Sign up for just $35.
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