Can Rachel Alexandra come back in two weeks and beat the boys after earning outrageous speed figures that suggest a bounce is imminent? Was Mine That Bird’s shocking Kentucky Derby score a fluke or the birth of a superstar?
How do you separate Pioneerof the Nile , Musket Man, and Papa Clem when it was so difficult for the camera to do it at Churchill Downs? Can the talented beaten-off horses in the
It is difficult making a selection based on gallops and overall physical appearance, because there usually is nothing so definitive that it would make you base your selection on just that one factor. There simply are too many elements to the Preakness, especially this year’s renewal.
All the horses who have been training at Pimlico look good, but there are several observations that could play a small role in trying to determine a winner.
No horse has been training better on a day-in and day-out basis than Mine That Bird, who has held his flesh very well and is generating a great deal of energy in his works. On Friday morning he was in an open gallop as he charged down the stretch not far behind Papa Clem, who was blowing out down the lane for trainer Gary Stute. Papa Clem may lose interest in works, but he is a rocket in his short blowouts and today was no exception. Once he was set down, he was rolling, reaching out with authority.
Getting back to Mine That Bird, he wastes no energy, is smooth as silk gliding over the ground, and is always bright and alert with his ears up and not even the slightest head bob. In short he couldn’t be doing any better. If he is as good as he showed in the
The only real work I’ve seen has been Musket Man’s half-mile drill in :46 3/5 at
As usual, I will look for a potential overlay based on daily observations. When General Quarters shipped in this week he became the only Preakness horse in memory to be involved in an auto accident. Following a 12-hour van ride, plus the time stuck on the van after the accident, it was no surprise that General Quarters appeared stiff coming off the van and walking the shed. The following morning I was expecting a terrible gallop, but was surprised how well he went and how unfazed he was with his long trip and ordeal. On Thursday he galloped even better. On Friday, he had his head down into the bit and was better still. From here it looks as if he is thriving at Pimlico. He cleans up his feed with gusto and has been relaxing well, sprawling out in his stall and taking a nap. At 20-1 on the morning line he could prove to be better value than the shorter priced horses who range from 8-5 to 8-1.
Point well taken
Let’s go back to the original questions in the opening two paragraphs. Are you stumped; have no clue who is going to run well coming off the Kentucky Derby, and are a bit leery about betting Rachel Alexandra at 8-5? Well, how about if you disregard the
Here is why Take the Points is my handicapping selection, at the risk of looking foolish yet again. But for 30-1 it’s a risk worth taking.
While the Pro Ride to dirt angle has done extremely well this year, how about Take the Points’ dirt to Pro Ride and back to dirt angle? He had no chance against a loose-on-the-lead The Pamplemousse in the Sham Stakes, especially when his flight from
Now back on dirt, over which he had won two in a row before heading west, he gets blinkers added and has turned in three terrific works with them on, including a bullet :47 3/5 breeze over a “good” track at Churchill Downs, the fastest of 43 works at the distance. In his most recent work over the
He’s fresh, he’s won in the mud in case the track is wet, and he gets Edgar Prado back, who is two-for-two on him. Prado has been a bit cold lately, but he still is a huge plus at Pimlico, his former home track. What better place to get Prado back in the big-time groove again?
So, taking all these factors into consideration, why not take a shot on Take the Points? My only reservation is Pletcher’s decision to van him down the morning of the race, leaving
Post 11 at Pimlico is not ideal for a horse that likes to track, but if Prado lets Rachel Alexandra go and doesn’t try to float her wide, he can drop to the inside and try to get a good position in fourth or fifth, or even sixth. From there, he would have a good shot to run a big race.
So, for a potential 20-1 overlay based on observations, I will return to my Kentucky Derby pick General Quarters, and from a pure handicapping angle, I will return to my Starlight scene of the crime (remember Monba ?) and try to land a big price with Take the Points.
And if you’re looking for another bomb to hit the board and close out some big trifectas or superfectas, don’t be surprised to see the consistent, late-closing Terrain pick up a good deal of the pieces at the end, as he’s done in three grade I stakes. This is only his third start of the year and he could be ready to run his best race yet. And the mud won’t bother him.
Just for the fun of it you can put him in a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile trifecta box with Mine That Bird and Pioneeerof the