Preakness Preview: Pace Could Make the Race
In his winning Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) effort, WinStar Farm’s Super Saver was able to sit off of a hot pace and take over coming out of the final turn. If the son of Maria’s Mon is to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown, he may have to revert to the front-running style that he used in the other two wins of his career.
Pace will certainly be one of the key factors in the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 15 at Pimlico, as Super Saver attempts to take down 11 rivals in the 1 3/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. Post time has been set for 6:12 p.m. EDT and the race will be shown live on NBC. The weather in Baltimore for Saturday calls for sunny skies and a high of 75 degrees.
Get valuable insight into the pedigrees of this year's Preakness Stakes contenders with the special report, Preakness 135 Contenders: Pedigree Profiles & Sire Analysis. Includes exclusive pedigree analyses, Past Performances, sire analysis by performance at Pimlico, & more!
Super Saver, a homebred who has produced a 3-2-1 record from seven starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, will face four of the same rivals he defeated in the May 1 Derby—third-place Paddy O'Prado , sixth-place Lookin At Lucky , seventh-place Dublin , and 12th-place Jackson Bend. But he will also have to deal with seven newcomers—all of them coming in rested and ready to try to knock off the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
The complexion of the Preakness changed dramatically in the days leading up to the race when expected pacesetters A Little Warm and Hurricane Ike defected from the race. Their departures could leave Super Saver as the one to inherit the early lead, unless Yawanna Twist, Jackson Bend, or even Caracortado decide to shoot to the front. Either way, he won’t have the luxury of sitting off a sizzling pace like the one set by Conveyance in the Derby when the leader went the first quarter-mile in :22.63, a half in :46.16, and three quarters in 1:10.58.
Super Saver, who drew post 8, has twice shown the ability to take fields wire-to-wire, first when breaking his maiden at Belmont Park last September and again in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) in November at Churchill. The bay colt also set the pace but could not hold the lead in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) in his 3-year-old debut March 13 when finishing third.
“I think in some ways it appears the race is going to shape up well for him,” said Pletcher, who seeks his first Preakness victory. “His tactical speed should be able to put him in a good spot. We'll see what other speed shows up, but on paper it doesn't look like a tremendous amount.”
Super Saver had one work between the Derby and the Preakness, posting a three-furlong move in :36 3/5 at Churchill Downs May 10. Like all of the Preakness starters, he will be making his first start at Pimlico.
“The good news for us is it seems like Super Saver's come out of the Derby really well,” Pletcher said. “His energy level has been good. His appetite has been good. He's moving well. He seems happy and enthusiastic.”
Jockey Calvin Borel, who won the Preakness aboard Rachel Alexandra a year ago, will again have the mount on Super Saver. The last repeat winner of the Preakness was Pat Day, who won three in row: Tabasco Cat in 1994, Timber Country in 1995, and Louis Quatorze in 1996.
In the last 10 years, four Derby winners have gone on to win the Preakness, Big Brown the last one to accomplish the feat in 2008.
Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado (9-2) ran a very solid race in the Derby, missing runner-up by a neck to a fast-closing Ice Box. The son of El Prado raced mid-pack early in that race before making his move into the second turn, but he could be closer to the lead in the Preakness, like he was when winning the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in March and when runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland in April. Kent Desormeaux will keep the mount for Dale Romans and they will break from post 10—same as they did in the Derby.
Romans will also send out Donald Dizney’s First Dude , who finished third in the Blue Grass and fifth in the Florida Derby (gr. I). The son of Stephen Got Even has turned in two sharp, bullet works at Churchill leading up to the Preakness. Ramon Dominguez will keep the mount.
“I would have liked to run First Dude in the Derby,” Romans said. “He's just really come into himself and he ran a nice race in the Blue Grass with a troubled trip. Ramon really likes him and I think the further we go the better.”
Lookin At Lucky was the beaten favorite in the Derby, a race in which he lost all reasonable hope of winning when being bumped hard shortly after breaking from post 1. The Smart Strike colt did pass several horses around the final turn to improve his position.
Lookin At Lucky (3-1), the 2-year-old champion who has produced a sparkling 6-1-1 record from nine starts, will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia. Trainer Bob Baffert decided to remove regular rider Garrett Gomez after the colt has endured troubled trips in his last three races. And this time, they drew a much more favorable post—lucky No. 7.
“I am so relieved,” Baffert said about drawing post 7. “As soon as the '1' went by, I said, 'That's good.' I wanted the 7, 8 or 9.”
The last beaten Derby favorite to win the Preakness was Point Given in 2001. He was also trained by Baffert, who hasn't won the race since 2002 with War Emblem.
Instead of Lookin At Lucky, this time Gomez will be aboard Dublin (10-1), who looks to give trainer D. Wayne Lukas his sixth Preakness win. Dublin also had a troubled trip in the Derby before passing horses on the second turn. The son of 2005 Preakness winner Afleet Alex posted his last win in the Hopeful (gr. I) last September.
Lukas’ other starter will be longshot Northern Giant (30-1), a son of Giant’s Causeway, who will be making his first start since finishing last in a field of nine in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 10. He was found to be ill the day after the race. Northern Giant has only a maiden win to show from nine starts.
Of all the newcomers, Schoolyard Dreams (15-1) and Caracortado (10-1) may have the best chance of making some noise.
Schoolyard Dreams, also by Stephen Got Even, missed getting into the Derby by a nose when he was on the wrong end of a heartbreaking photo in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). The bay colt was then rushed into the Wood Memorial (gr. I) in an attempt to accumulate graded earnings for the Derby, but the plan backfired when he finished fourth. Trainer Derek Ryan, who sent out Musket Man to run third in last year’s Preakness, said his charge needs more time in between races than most. He will come into this race off six weeks rest.
Schoolyard Dreams finished a half-length ahead of Super Saver in the Tampa Bay Derby. He will be ridden by Eibar Coa for the first time. Coa was aboard his mount during a sharp work at Monmouth Park May 6 when he was clocked going :59 3/5 for five furlongs.
“He’s coming into the race the right way,” said Ryan, a native of Ireland who was formerly an assistant to Joe Orseno, trainer of 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet.
The connections of Caracortado were also hoping to get into the Derby, but came up short on graded earnings despite winning the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II), finishing third in the San Felipe (gr. II), and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The California-bred gelded son of Cat Dreams came out of the Santa Anita Derby a bit nicked up after a troubled trip and breeder/owner Mike Machowsky said in hindsight it was probably the best thing for Caracortado to not run in the Derby.
“If you look at the replay, my horse had as much trouble if not more trouble than Lookin At Lucky. He checked and we had to check and fell back to almost last and come four and five wide,” Machowsky said. “He’s fresh and ready now.”
A winner of the first five starts on his career, Caracortado has worked three times since the Santa Anita Derby. Paul Atkinson will retain the mount.
Pletcher’s other starter will be Aikenite (20-1), runner-up to Hurricane Ike in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr. III) and graded stakes placed four times in his career. Aikenite is owned by Dogwood Stable, whose Summer Squall won the Preakness in 1990. Aikenite drew the rail and will be guided by Javier Castellano.
Jackson Bend (12-1), with Mike Smith in the irons, will be the 20th Preakness starter for trainer Nick Zito, who won with Louis Quatorze in 1996.
Yawanna Twist (30-1), runner-up in both the Gotham (gr. III) and Illinois Derby (gr. III), will try to become the first New York-bred to win the Preakness since Funny Cide destroyed the field in 2003. Rick Dutrow Jr. trains the son of Yonaguska.
Completing the field is Pleasant Prince (20-1), who third in the Derby Trial. Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux rides.
$1,000,000 Preakness Stakes (gr. I, Race 12, 6:12 p.m.), 3YO, 1 3/16 Miles (Dirt)
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