Saturday, May 16th
Pimlico Race Course
Race 12: The G1 Preakness Stakes, 6:18PM local post time
If handicapping the 2014 Kentucky Derby was nasty, brutish, and long, handicapping the 2014 Preakness was nasty, brutish, agonizing, and almost as long. Here is where we ended up, for better or worse:
The TFUS Pace Projector indicates that the Preakness will be run at a fast pace, and that Social Inclusion will be on a clear lead at the opening half, with Bayern in second place and California Chrome in third, and General a Rod, Ring Weekend, and Pablo Del Monte not far behind them.
#1 Dynamic Impact (12-1): Capitalized on a nice trip to beat Midnight Hawk by a nose in the Illinois Derby, running a speed figure of 99, which was a 20-point lifetime top. Game though the effort was, MidnightHawk will not be his target this time. California Chrome is a horse of a different color. Another big jump will probably be required from Dynamic Impact. And we don’t like the chances that he will have it in him so close on the heels of his previous jump. We don’t like him today.
(Note: The fractions/pace figures lines beneath the running lines are set to Pace Figures/This Horse. Click here for more information on our Pace Figures and our Fractions Preferences feature.)
#2 General a Rod (15-1): In the face of trying circumstances, he did enough in the Kentucky Derby to warrant staying in the mix today. But the fact remains that his lifetime top is a 101, and he’s hooking a lot of early speed today. So if he is going to produce the improvement he needs to win the Preakness, then in all likelihood, he is going to be obliged to earn every last bit of it. That’s a tall order.
#3 California Chrome (3-5): Our admiration for this horse is practically endless. We believe he is the most talented horse in the race. Visually, we love him. We could happily watch replays of his races for hours. We love his style of running. We love the way he cruises at high speed, accelerates just as his opponents are feeling enervated by his cruising speed, and lays waste to his rivals. We love a lot more about him, too. We even love the fact that he trains at tiny Los Alamitos (our second home during our misspent youth). But betting on him at microscopic odds, during a grinding campaign, on two weeks’ rest, when one of his rivals matches him on numbers and a few others are not that far behind? That is a step further than we are willing to go.
#4 Ring Weekend (20-1): His best race came when he controlled the early pace, which won’t happen in here, and his best race isn’t close to being good enough anyway. We are excluding him from all our tickets.
#5 Bayern (10-1): Inveterate frontrunner will be racing without the blinkers he wore in his debut and in the Derby Trial. His trainer, Bob Baffert, has said that he wants Bayern coming from off the pace today. Baffert is adept at pulling off style changes. We’ll see how much cooperation he gets from his horse. In any event, Bayern is a blatantly talented colt who ran a 100 in the second start of his career and then had a physical setback. He was then jammed into the Arkansas Derby, where he managed to run a new top (a 101) even as he was comprehensively beaten by Danza. His nose victory (overturned by the stewards) in the Derby Trial has to be read as a disappointing effort. The Race Rating for that race was a mere 99. And now he’s going to be mixing it up with California Chrome and the hyper-talented speedster Social Inclusion. To our way of thinking, anybody successfully backing Bayern to pull off a victory here deserves to be paid at odds quite a bit higher than 10-1.
#6 Ria Antonia (30-1): Nice filly comes in off a lifetime top of 98, a number earned in a race she lost by almost 16 lengths, which says quite a bit about the phenomenal filly who won the race. There are a lot of spots where we’d like to see Ria Antonia. Alas, the Preakness is not one of them.
#7 Kid Cruz (20-1): This colt fascinates us at a big price. Yes, he is too slow. His lifetime top is only a 95. But he has been visually impressive in the extreme. He was choked down by slow fractions in his most recent start. He has a strong Pedigree Rating of 86 for this sort of race, and we feel that there is a lot of talent here that has not yet been revealed. The predicted hot pace would benefit him, given his running style. His trainer has been talking him down a bit, but we can live with that at a big price. Kid Cruz is our favorite longshot in the 2014 Preakness.
#8 Social Inclusion (5-1): If there is a “TimeformUS Data Horse” in the 2014 Preakness, Social Inclusion is certainly it. Our Pace Projector shows him on a clear early lead. He has improved his speed figure in each start. The speed figure of 111 that he ran in his second start matches the best figure California Chrome has ever run. The 114 he ran in the Wood is a better speed figure than any horse in this race has ever run. He ran that number in the Wood despite going very wide around the first turn while running a fairly punishing early pace figure. He is 5-1 on the morning line. What’s not to like? Well, there is a question about Social Inclusion’s physical condition, in light of his May 3 scratch, and we don’t love his workout pattern. Something seems slightly off here. But, again, our data on this colt is indisputably strong. So there is no small amount of agonizing to be done here.
#9 Pablo Del Monte (20-1): Connections chose to skip the Kentucky Derby and take their chances here. His best efforts have come on synthetic surfaces. His sire, Giant’s Causeway, is a splendid synthetic sire. But even Pablo Del Monte’s best synthetic efforts would be insufficient today, and he could be up against it from a pace standpoint. A toss for us.
#10 Ride On Curlin (10-1): Has been victimized by one criminal trip after another. He is vastly better than he looks on paper, and he doesn’t look bad on paper. Adjust this colt’s speed figures for his awful trips and you’ll see numbers that can play in here–at a price. Can he work out a decent trip today?
- Win bet on Kid Cruz.
- Use Kid Cruz and Social Inclusion in multi-race wagers.
- Use Kid Cruz under Social Inclusion and California Chrome in exactas.
- Use Kid Cruz in trifectas under Social Inclusion and California Chrome, with General a Rod, Bayern, Ride On Curlin, and Dynamic Impact included in the lower holes.