The 134th Preakness Stakes: What to Do About the Girl….

Kentucky Derby Horse Racing

Calvin Borel rides Mine That Bird up the rail to an impossible victory in the Derby

The great thing about horse racing is — they actually run the races.  You can’t just figure it out on paper and then go to the window.  And so when Mother Nature sets up a goopy track that no 3-year-old has yet experienced, and they shoot 19 horses out of one gate, amazing, impossible things can happen.  And two Saturdays ago, we got the impossible.  A 50 to 1 shot (who should have been at least 200 to 1 based on the sheets) shot up the rail in the final sixteenth of a mile to blow away a tired trio of more likely horses to win the Kentucky Derby.  Only folks who bet based on name, the number 8, or pure breeding (the horse is out of Birdstone, the horse who beat Smarty Jones in the Belmont) could have picked this horse.  And so it goes.

But now we’re onto the Preakness, and it would have been wide open beyond belief until the most impressive filly in ages, more impressive even than 2007 Belmont winner Rags to Riches, found her way to the starting gate.


Rachel Alexandra destroys the Oaks field without so much as a shake from Calvin Borel

Rachel Alexandra, 20-1/4 length winner of the Kentucky Oaks (the filly version of the Derby), sporting a 108 Beyer speed figure which for the first time in a long while beat the Beyer of the Derby winner (Mine That Bird got a 105), was headed for another prominent filly race, the Acorn at Belmont Park.  But then she got bought on May 6th by Stonestreet Stables, and the owners decided to run her in the Preakness.

She has been installed as the 8 to 5 favorite, which at first blush seems stunning.  But maybe you haven’t seen a replay of the Oaks.  If you haven’t, now is the time.  The margin of victory is ludicrous, of course, and one could argue that she was running against a weak field.  But the part that is beyond belief is that she simply was never asked to run.  She just hits the top of the stretch and GOES.  Like a rocket.  No whip, no shakeup, Calvin Borel is just along for the ride.

Yes, you just noticed that Calvin Borel was the rider of both the Oaks and Derby winners two weekends ago — quite a feat.  There’s been a lot of hubbub about his decision to stay aboard the Oaks winner, Rachel Alexandra, for the Preakness…. who would give up a chance at the Triple Crown, no matter how improbable?  Well, Calvin is staying on the filly, and well-regarded Mike Smith (who won the 2005 Derby aboard Giacomo) will be in the irons with the Derby winner Mine That Bird.

There was also intrigue around some owners’ efforts to enter dud horses into the Preakness to keep the filly out and give Mine That Bird a better chance under the pretense that it was “better for the sport”.  Bullcrap.  The best 3-year-old horse in the country should be in this race.

So, what to do?  A lot of money has been burned up over the years betting on chalky fillies in their first races against the boys.  8-5 ain’t particularly attractive, and it could be as thin as 6-5 at post time.  And she did draw the outside post (13), a post that wasn’t particularly lucky for Derby morning line favorite I Want Revenge, who scratched the morning of the Derby and may never race again.

But the Preakness is usually about short prices up top, with the only recent exception being Bernardini, who destroyed the 2006 Preakness field after Barbaro came up lame.  (We will never know who would have won that race had it not been a day of tragedy.)

Despite my violent aversion to betting short-priced horses, I have to tell you, on paper, and watching that video, RA looks like a complete freak, capable of running these colts totally off their feet.  My instinct is to bet her to win, and put some prices underneath — the old “bet and chuck”.

So here’s what I’ll be trying on Saturday.  I’ll be throwing out the top two horses from the Derby (Mine That Bird and PioneeroftheNile), and trying to get value by betting that longer shots will complete the exacta and trifecta.

My choices for underneath are:

  • Big Drama (1), who ran a monster 7-furlongs in his first race in 2009, the Swale, and showed as a 2-year-old he can run two turns
  • Friesan Fire (5), the post-time Derby favorite, who got beat up and got half his hoof ripped off in that race, but comes back with a nice work at Pimlico and still looks great on paper if you put a line through the Derby
  • Musket Man (3), who just keeps showing up and improving each race and ran a bullet workout at Monmouth getting ready for Saturday

I’ll also use General Quarters (8) and Papa Clem (7) in my trifectas and supers.  They were my Derby “underpicks”, and I still like them here.

Here are your resources, as usual:

Past Performances

The Field, with commentary

Steven Crist, for G-d’s sake

As for your donation to the system, we’re in a freaking recession they tell me, so let’s keep it cheap with 50 bucks, and go with the following:

$4 exacta part wheel, 13 over 1,3,5 ($12)

$1 trifecta part wheel, 13 over 1,3,5 over 1,3,5,7,8 ($12)

$1 super part wheel, 13 over 1,5 over 1,3,5 over 1,3,5,7,8 ($12)

$2 “Rachel Chokes” exacta box with 1,3,5 ($12)

$2 to win on Mine That Bird, the 2 ($2, come on, if it happens, you have to have the souvenir)

If you want to short the filly, just pound my underpicks.  If you’re right, you will CLEAN UP.

Good luck to all.  There is no better way to spend your Saturday.  Distractions must be avoided at all costs.  Do yourself a favor and lock your family outside like I do.


Captain America


2 Responses to “The 134th Preakness Stakes: What to Do About the Girl….”

  1. Mark Grannis Says:

    Now that you picked a winner, how long until the Apocalypse?

    • Steve Grannis Says:

      What? Less than 24 hours until the Belmont and still no column? Someone get over to Tim’s house to check on him, fast.

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