This year the Kentucky Derby will not have much impact on the Preakness, since Big Brown scared off all the other Derby horses. 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 Derby, and if the Kentucky Derby is not in the horse's past performances he is an immediate toss for the win. Since all of the Derby horses but Big Brown are skipping the Preakness this year, we have to look closer. In recent years, only Red Bullet in 2000 and Bernardini in 2006 skipped the Derby to win, so with this in mind, Big Brown a huge advantage even before we start adding up the points. 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, 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. Big Brown is expected to follow this pattern, going into the Preakness without an official timed work.
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.
Big Brown, as mentioned above, is the only horse in the field who made his last start in the Kentucky Derby,which he won. He scored on all but one of the angles used here. He has made at least three starts this year, is coming off a 2 week layoff from a sharp prep race, and has broken the Beyer par figure of 106 with his 109 effort in Louisville. He also lacks any points in the Professional wing of his dosage profile. Although his running style is generally on the front, in the Derby he proved he could stalk as well, so we awarded him the point for running style which gives him a perfect score. Had we penalized him for running style, he would have tied with the second rated horse.
Harlem Rocker would have been the "best of the rest" here, but owner Frank Stronach announced on 5/12 that he will skip the Preakness to point to the Queen's Plate. The lightly raced son of Macho Uno won the Withers in his last start, earning himself a 106 Beyer, giving him a sharp prep race as well as attaining the par figure for the Preakness. He stalks the pace which is acceptable, is within the recommended layoff range, and is coming into the race off 3 starts this year. His absence from the Derby field dropped him to second in the points here, but he scored on every other angle used.
The next 3 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:
Behindatthebar enters the Preakness off two straight wins, a Santa Anita allowance and then the Lexington at Keeneland. This gives him a sharp prep race but his 99 Beyer effort does not qualify. He has made 5 starts this year including a stakes win, is coming off a layoff within the preferred range, and lacks Professional points.
Icabad Crane won the Federico Tesio which is the local prep for the Preakness. This gives him a stakes win this year, and a sharp prep within the recommended layoff range. The Tesio was his third start in 2008, and he lacks Professional points. On the negative side, Icabad Crane did not race in the Derby and has not attained the Beyer par of 106; in fact he has not broken triple digits.
Macho Again comes to Baltimore off a win in the 7 1/2 furlong Derby Trial at Churchill Downs a week before the Derby, which was his fourth start this year. He earned a 99 Beyer which did not make par nor break triple digits, and he skipped the Kentucky Derby. On the positive side, he does rally from off the pace (but not as a "deep" closer), he lacks Professional points, he has enough starts this year and is exiting a sharp prep.