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Analyzing the Top 2007 Preakness Contenders

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Street Sense wins the 2007 Kentucky Derby

Street Sense wins the 2007 Kentucky Derby

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated May 13, 2007

Once again, the Kentucky Derby has weeded out the pretenders leaving a very compact field, comparatively speaking, for the Preakness Stakes held two weeks later at Pimlico in Baltimore. 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 Derby. If the Kentucky 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 and Bernardini last year skipped the Derby to win. With this in mind, our analysis awarded double points to the three colts coming from the Derby. Although Pimlico is always called a speed-favoring oval, about half of 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, preferably at Pimlico. Not having a work between the Derby and the Preakness is usually a negative, although two consecutive winners this decade, Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, galloped but did not work between the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Last year's winner Bernardini worked out at Belmont 10 days in advance.

In this year's analysis, no horse scored on every angle, so, strictly speaking, every horse has a chance to lose. Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order.

The first two horses scored equal points and are the top choices in the analysis:

Curlin was the highly regarded but lightly raced horse who was the second choice on the board in Louisville, and despite many knocks in that race, finished a respectable third. That effort makes him a contender here. The Derby was his 3rd start as a 3-year-old, he has 2 stakes wins this year (Rebel and Arkansas Derby), his running style is in the preferred range (stalker or "shallow" closer, not more than 10 lengths back) , and he has no professional points in his dosage profile. His only knock is that he still has not run a 106 Beyer which is the Preakness par. His best effort was a 103 in the Arkansas Derby, and he regressed to 98 in the Kentucky Derby.

Hard Spun made all the running at Churchill Downs only to be caught by favorite Street Sense in the stretch drive, and his trainer Larry Jones is confident because regular rider Mario Pino is the winningest rider in Maryland. His runner-up effort in the Derby earned him a 107 Beyer, giving him an edge on Curlin in that category. However, his front-running style is not preferred in the Preakness, as explained above, which is his only knock giving him eight total points, tied with Curlin.

Street Sense won the Derby by 2 1/4 lengths closing from 19 lengths off the pace. His "out of the clouds" running style is a negative at Pimlico, as Preakness winners are rarely more than 10 lengths off the pace at any call in the race. As well, he has 1 point in the professional wing of his dosage profile, which also earns him a knock. He scored on all other factors, so his two knocks dropped him below the top two who have 1 knock each.

Flying First Class, like all the horses below, skipped the Kentucky Derby and thus did not earn the two points the three above did, given their huge statistical disadvantage. As well, he wins on the front end which earns him a knock for running style. He does score on every other factor, having 4 starts this year, won his prep (the Derby Trial), and he lacks professional points. His 107 Beyer figure, which earned him a point, was achieved when he broke his maiden in a 6f sprint.

Xchanger won the Federico Tesio which is the major local prep for the Preakness, earning him points for a sharp prep within the required layoff time, and his 3 starts this year are within range. He has never run a triple digit Beyer and he is a front-runner, both of which earned him knocks.

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

Chelokee has not raced since he finished third in the Florida Derby, earning him points for a sharp prep but a knock for this extended layoff. He has never won a stakes race nor has he run a triple digit Beyer. On the positive side he stalks the pace, lacks professional points, and has made enough starts this year.

C P West[/link"> has only made 2 starts this year, lacks a stakes win, and hasn't run a triple digit Beyer in his career. On the upside, he did have a sharp prep , finishing second in the Withers at Aqueduct, which was within the preferred layoff timeframe, he lacks professional points, and his stalking style is preferred in this race.

King of the Roxy is Todd Pletcher's only entrant in the Preakness, as his 5 Derby starters all finished out of the money. He does have a stakes win this year (the Hutcheson), had a sharp prep when second in the Santa Anita Derby, lacks professional points, and uses a stalking style. On the negative side, he did not race in the Derby, has only made 2 starts this year, is coming off a layoff of 6 weeks, and has never run a 106 Beyer.

Mint Slewlep will be a longshot on Saturday and the reasons are clear. His knocks are numerous: he did not have a sharp prep, finishing fourth in the Withers, he skipped the Derby, does not have any stakes wins, has never run faster than an 85 Beyer, and he has professional points in his dosage profile. He scored on just three factors: number of starts this year, layoff length, and runstyle (stalker).

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