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 last year skipped the Derby to win, although some would argue that Oaks winner 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 this decade, Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, galloped but did not work between the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Rachel Alexandra worked out at Churchill Downs before shipping to Pimlico.
Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order.
Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby and that already puts him at a huge advantage over this field. As well, he scored on every factor used in this analysis. He comes out of the Kentucky Derby, which he won, giving him a sharp prep inside 30 days, he ran a 104 Beyer that day, has made 3 starts this year, comes from off the pace but not too far back (the Preakness favors stalkers or closers over front-runners and deep closers), has a stakes win last year (in the Kentucky Jockey Club), and does not have any points in the Professional wing of his dosage profile. The Derby winner generally goes off as the favorite in the Preakness but if he does not, he is usually an overlay.
Paddy O'Prado finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby, earning him a sharp prep 2 weeks out in the preferred race, as well as a 100 Beyer. He lacks Professional points, has a stakes win this year (the Palm Beach), and can rally or stalk. His only negative is his lack of a stakes win as a juvenile, with a third place finish in his only stakes start last year. He will likely be overbet off that third place finish, what with runner-up Ice Box opting to wait for the Belmont.
The next 2 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:
Jackson Bend comes to Pimlico off a 12th place showing in the Derby, clearly not a sharp prep but the preferred race to come from as well as inside 30 days. He also lacks a stakes win this year. He does have 4 stakes wins at 2, has run a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure (in the In Reality Stakes at Calder), has made 4 starts this year, can stalk the pace, and lacks Professional points.
Lookin at Lucky was the unlucky beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby finishing 6th out of the rail post. He is coming out of the right race inside 30 days, has a stakes win this year (the Rebel) and last year, can come from off the pace or stalk, lacks Professional points, and has made 3 starts this year. He did not have a sharp prep (although with excuses), and has not broken the 100 Beyer plateau.
The next 3 horses scored equal points and are listed alphabetically:
A Little Warm did not draw into the Kentucky Derby due to lack of graded stakes earnings, so he comes to the Preakness off a 7 week layoff dating back to the Louisiana Derby. The preferred layoff is 30 days or less. As well, he lacks a stakes win at 2. On the positive side he is coming off a sharp race, second in the Louisiana Derby, he earned a 100 Beyer winning the Spectacular Bid Stakes back in January, has raced 3 times this year, lacks Professional points, and can stalk the pace.
Dublin finished 7th in the Kentucky Derby last time out, which is the desired prep and 2 weeks out. He lacks Professional points, can rally or stalk the pace, has made 4 starts this year, and has a stakes win as a 2-year-old (the Hopeful). Along with his poor prep effort, he lacks a stakes win this year and has not run a 100 Beyer.
Hurricane Ike skipped the Derby but instead won the Derby Trial a week earlier. That effort earns him a sharp prep race 3 weeks out, a 101 Beyer, and a stakes win this year. As well he lacks Professional points and had made 3 starts this year. On the negative side he did not race in the Kentucky Derby, is a front-runner, and did not win a stakes as a juvenile.