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Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2011

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Animal Kingdom wins the 2011 Kentucky Derby

Animal Kingdom wins the 2011 Kentucky Derby

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
May 14, 2011

Once again this year we will attempt to handicap the probable Preakness field using angles that have pointed at the winner in past years. It is well known that to win the Preakness, you have to have raced in the Kentucky Derby, and if the Derby is not in the horse's past performances he is an immediate toss for the win. In recent years, only Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, and Rachel Alexandra in 2009 skipped the Derby to win, although some would argue Rachel Alexandra was good enough to win the Derby had her original owner entered her. Although Pimlico is always called a speed-favoring oval, about half of the Preakness winners came from off the pace, while 1/3 of winners stalk. Horses more than 10 lengths off the pace after half a mile generally don't win the Black Eyed Susans and closers need to be in contention at the top of the stretch.

We also recommend checking workout patterns in the final week since these are a good indicator of who is ready. Preferably you're looking for horses that came out of the Derby and only had one (no more, no less) workout between starts, not necessarily at Pimlico. Not having a work between the Derby and the Preakness is usually a negative, although two consecutive winners last decade, Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, galloped but did not work between the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order.

Animal Kingdom won the Vinery Spiral Stakes and the Kentucky Derby and as has been the pattern the last few years, the Derby winner tops the rankings for the Preakness. He scored on all but one angle. He is coming off the Derby, which the vast majority of Preakness winners have used as their prep, clearly a sharp prep and a stakes win inside 30 days, he has made enough starts this year, can stalk the pace (the Preakness prefers stalkers or closers but not deep closers), has run a triple-digit Beyer (103 in the Derby), lacks Professional points in his dosage profile, and raced as a juvenile. The only angle he failed is a lack of a stakes win as a juvenile. The Derby winner is generally overbet in the Preakness and this year should be no exception.

The next 2 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:

Concealed Identity is the main local hope, Maryland-bred and exclusively raced in his home state. He won the Federico Tesio Stakes, the local prep for the Preakness, which was run on Derby day, giving him a sharp prep 2 weeks out. He has 5 starts this year, can stalk the pace, lacks Professional points, and has a stakes win as a juvenile (the Maryland Juvenile Championship). He failed on two factors, he did not race in the Kentucky Derby nor has he run a 100+ Beyer, his best being a slow 86 earned in the Tesio.

Mucho Macho Man stalked the pace in the Derby and finished well to get third beaten just 3 lengths, earning him a sharp prep 2 weeks out in the most favorable race. He does have a stakes win this year (the Risen Star), lacks Professional points, has started 4 times this year and has raced as a juvenile. On the downside he lacks a stakes win as a juvenile nor has he run a 100+ Beyer, falling just short with a 99 in the Derby.

Dialed In finished a disappointing 8th beaten 7 1/2 lengths as the 5-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, clearly not a sharp prep but is the favorable prep race. The Derby was his 4th start this year, he has 2 stakes wins this year, rallies from off the pace usually no further back than 10 lengths (the Derby being the exception), has 1 start as a juvenile, and lacks Professional points. He has not run a 100+ Beyer (his best was a 97 earned in the Holy Bull and lacks a juvenile stakes win.

The next 3 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:

King Congie finished a close third in the Blue Grass Stakes but did not go in the Kentucky Derby, earning him a sharp prep but 5 weeks out (the cut-off for this analysis is 30 days). He has run 3 times this year, raced last year, usually stalks the pace, has a stakes win this year (the Hallandale Beach on turf), and lacks Professional points. However, along with skipping the Derby and coming off an extended layoff, he lacks a juvenile stakes win and has a career best Beyer of just 93.

Midnight Interlude stalked the pace in the Derby but faded late to finish 16th. This gives him the preferred prep race 2 weeks out. He has the preferred running style, lacks Professional pints, has a stakes win this year (the Santa Anita Derby), and has enough starts this year. He did not race as a juvenile (so he could not have had a juvenile stakes win), did not have a sharp prep, and has not run a 100+ Beyer.

Sway Away finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby but beaten just 3 1/4 lengths which earns him a sharp prep for the Preakness. He has enough starts at 2 and 3, has run a 101 Beyer (in the San Vicente), stalks the pace, and lacks Professional points. He is coming off an extended layoff, lacks a stakes win lifetime, and did not run in the Derby (did not draw in due to insufficient graded earnings).

On to page 2 for the rest of the horses

More Preakness Info

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