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Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2009


Mine That Bird wins the 2009 Kentucky Derby

Mine That Bird wins the 2009 Kentucky Derby

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
May 10, 2009

This year we may see the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks winners face off in the Preakness for the first time in history. 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. In recent years, only Red Bullet in 2000 and Bernardini in 2006 skipped the Derby to win, so with this in mind, Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra is at a disadvantage 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, not necessarily 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, and Mine That Bird is also expected to follow this pattern, with daily 2 mile gallops at Churchill before shipping in on Tuesday.

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

Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby and that already puts him at a huge advantage over this field. He also scored on every angle in this analysis, in stark contrast to our Derby analysis. He comes out of the Derby which qualifies as a sharp prep at the correct layoff range, has stakes wins both at 2 and 3, and has run a triple-digit Beyer figure (105 in the Derby). He showed he can rally from off the pace, and he has no points in the Professional wing of his dosage profile.

The next 5 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:

General Quarters failed on two of the angles. He lacks a stakes win as a juvenile, and did not have a sharp prep, having finishing a well-beaten 10th in the Kentucky Derby. He lacks Professional points (which is a positive for the Preakness unlike in the Derby), ran a 102 when winning the Sam F. Davis, usually runs a stalking trip (stalkers or ralliers are favored over front-runners), and has two stakes wins this year.

Musket Man finished third in the Derby earning him a sharp prep, and he can stalk the pace as he did at Churchill as well as when winning the Illinois Derby and Tampa Bay Derby. He lacks Professional points as well. On the downside he lacks a stakes win at 2 and has not run a triple digit Beyer figure, his top being a 98 at Hawthorne.

Papa Clem exits a fourth place finish in the Derby, which is the most favored prep race but does not qualify as a sharp prep. He also lacks a stakes win as a juvenile. He does have a stakes win this year, the Arkansas Derby where he ran a 101 Beyer, lacks Professional points, and has shown an ability to stalk the pace.

Pioneerof The Nile also has 2 key knocks against him in the Preakness. He has points on the Professional wing of his dosage profile, and he has not run a triple digit Beyer, his best being a 96 in the Santa Anita Derby. He does have stakes wins both at 2 and 3, is coming off a sharp prep (2nd in the Derby), and can either stalk or rally when asked.

Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by a record 20 1/4 lengths, and takes on males for the first time at the Preakness. She has made the requisite number of starts this year, has stakes wins both as a 2 and as a 3 year old, lacks professional points, and has run triple digit Beyers in four straight starts. On the negative side, she races on the front end and did not exit the Kentucky Derby.

On to page 2 for the rest of the horses
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