The Brock Talk

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preakness Field Taking Shape as Face of Triple Crown Changes

The day before entries are taken for the grade 1 Preakness Stakes, the field has been whittled down to 13 probable starters.

The field for the 1-3/16 mile Preakness (1/16 of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby) appears to have attracted five returnees from the Run for the Roses including the winner Super Saver, Paddy O'Prado (3rd), Lookin at Lucky (5th), Dublin (7th) and Jackson Bend (12th). The Preakness is also expected to feature the top three finishers from the Derby Trial (gr. 3) run at Churchill Downs April 24 including Hurricane Ike (1st), Aikenite (2nd) and third-place finisher Pleasant Prince.

Among the other Triple Crown invaders are Schoolyard Dreams, fourth in the Wood Memorial (gr. 1); Caracortado, fourth in the Santa Anita Derby; Northern Giant, ninth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. 1), First Dude, third in the grade 1 Blue Grass and Yawanna Twist, second in the Illionois Derby.

Perhaps the most significant development among the Derby horses is the jockey change for Lookin at Lucky. Following a series of unlucky mishaps going back to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. 1) in November, trainer Bob Baffert is expected to name Martin Garcia to ride Lookin at Lucky after releiving jockey Garrett Gomez of the riding assignment aboard the Kentucky Derby morning line favorite.

That allowed Gomez to pursue other opportunities in the Preakness and trainer D. Wayne Lukas quickly made the move to replace jockey Terry Thompson with Gomez on Dublin.

The last Kentucky Derby starter to survive a rider change and win the Preakness was Louis Quatorze in 1996. After finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby with Chris Antley aboard, trainer Nick Zito made the change to Pat Day and won the Preakness.

That year Pat Day was also the last rider to win the Preakness in consecutive years having won on Timber Country the year before. This year, Calvin Borel will try to match that feat after winning the Preakness last year on Rachel Alexandra.

Borel is still far from matching Day's five Preakness wins which is second only to Eddie Arcaro's six Preakness wins.

It also happened just four years earlier when trainer Thomas Bohannan replaced Craig Perrett on Pine Bluff after finishing fifth in the Derby. Two weeks later, Pine Bluff came back to win the Preakness with Chris McCarron aboard.

Other than the 20 horses in the last 50 years to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Derby third-place finishers have faired the best among the others with eight Preakness wins.

Derby show horses to win the Preakness include Curlin in 2007, Afleet Alex ('05), Timber Country ('95), Risen Star ('88), Elocusionist ('76), Damascus ('67), Tom Rolphe ('65) and Candy Spots in 1963. Paddy O'Prado was third in this year's Kentucky Derby.

The 2010 Preakness will have a very different look from the Derby this year in terms of pace as well. While the Kentucky Derby was loaded with speedsters such as Conveyance, Sidney's Candy and Discreetly Mine to name a few, the Preakness is void of any prominent front runner. In fact, Super Saver is the only contender to have a wire-to-wire victory on his resume having won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November gate-to-finish as well as his maiden win at Belmont at a mile in September.

In fact, only three Preakness contenders have won this year after having the lead as early as the half-mile pole. Hurricane Ike won the Derby Trial after leading going into the final turn; Northern Giant broke his maiden by 11 lengths in February at Oaklawn Park after taking the lead down the backstretch; and First Dude also broke his maiden after leading with a 1/2 mile to go at Gulfstream Park in January.

It is also assumed that Baffert is going to Garcia on Lookin at Lucky in an effort to see him more engaged early. While it is doubtful Garcia will race Lookin at Lucky to the front as he did on Conveyance in the Derby, there are questions as to just how fast the young rider will want to go in the Preakness.

The Unluckiest of Luckys.
BP Oil executives have contacted Lookin at Lucky today asking what he knows about things getting shut off... Federal investigators are now saying that we're fortunate the Times Square bomber got his fertilizer from Lookin at Lucky... Lookin at Lucky has been getting plenty of fan mail lately. Breeding farms are writing to say their mares have headaches... Pedigree Humor: On Mother's Day, Private Feeling appealed to the Jockey Club for additional DNA testing... Lookin at Lucky's flight to Baltimore was delayed when the pilot learned the biggest bomb in racing was on board... When Baffert fired jockey Garrett Gomez, Lookin at Lucky asked for a second opinion. Baffert said, "Alright. You're also slow."

Trophy Trivia
Created by Tiffany and Company in 1860 as a trophy for the now defunct Woodlawn Racing Association, the Woodlawn Vase is presented each year to the owner of the Preakness owner. An assessment in 1983 of $1 million easily makes its silver design the most valuable trophy in American sports. Until 1953, winners were awarded possession of the vase until the following Preakness. That all changed when A. G. Vanderbilt’s Native Dancer won it but his wife did not want to take on the immense responsibility of the vase’s safekeeping. Now the winning owner is awarded a $30,000 sterling replica on a permanent basis while the perpetual is on display at The Baltimore Museum of Art and brought to Pimlico under guard for the annual running of the Preakness.


John said...

Risen Star had all the tools to be a Triple Crown winner, and certainly would have been a worthy addition to this exclusive club.

Brock said...

Risen Star went from Shane Romero in the La. Derby to Jacinto Vasquez in the Lexington to Eddie D. in the Derby. I've always wondered what would have happened if Delahoussaye had ridden him in the Lexington and learned of his unique "I'm rollin' over whoever is in front of me so just give me a clear path jock" running style.

John said...

Risen Star is my favorite horse of the last thirty plus years. Easy Goer is another big favorite of mine.

Risen Star, as you know, was a huge bay, bigger than his sire, so I wouldn't have wanted to be in his way when he was rolling.

It's my personal opinion that both Risen Star and Swale should be in the Hall of Fame.

Sorry for getting a bit off the subject of your blog.

Unknown said...

No problem John. I'll talk Risen Star anytime. I was at LaD in publicity when he was a 2 yo and we actually started writing about him before his first start. And he was a giant, even at 2.