It's only been two weeks since I'll Have Another came on late to take the Kentucky Derby, and now he'll have a chance to keep the Triple Crown dream alive at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. It's been four years since we've had a horse take the first two legs of the Triple Crown (Big Brown in 2008). Prior to that, it seemed to have happened much more regularly, as 1997-1999 and 2002-2004 all had horses with a chance to capture the Triple Crown (but ultimately failed) in the Belmont. Maybe this means we're due for another Triple Crown Contender this year.
Before we get to the picks for the Preakness, here are a couple of takeaways from the aftermath of the Kentucky Derby:
1) Bodemeister is for real - some questioned whether Bodemeister was for real since he never raced as a 2-year old, but I think he silenced all doubters in the Derby. The pace for the early half of the race was blistering, and I think most felt Bodemeister would fail miserably down the stretch. Instead, Bodemeiester held strong and almost took the win wire-to-wire.
2) I'll Have Another is for real too - at least I had I'll Have Another among my "Maybes" picks for the Derby, unlike last year when all of the Triple Crown winners ended up being among my "Stay Away" picks. I'll Have Another had two major negatives against him before the race - starting from the 19th post and having a seemingly inexperienced jockey. Mario Gutierrez certainly showed that he is ready for the big leagues as he guided I'll Have Another perfectly to become the first winner from the 19th post position.
3) Missing in Action - A few of the Derby horses who I hoped would run again in the Preakness (Alpha and Dullahan in particular) are skipping the race instead, but hopefully they'll be back for the Belmont.
The Preakness field this year is only 11 horses, with 6 runners from the Derby and 5 new runners. This field is much more manageable than the 20-horse Derby, so I don't think traffic will be as much of an issue. As you'll see from my picks, I think the favorites should come out on top in this one, as few of the new runners seem intriguing. Of course, this means payout potentials are more limited, so my final betting picks are definitely focused more on the exotics:
2- Teeth of the Dog (15-1): Probably the biggest question mark in the field and my only longshot/new runner among the top picks; definitely has the upside potential to hit the board for the exotics
5 - Went the Day Well (6-1): Impressive in the Derby as he overcame a rough start to finish a strong 4th
7 - Bodemeister (8-5): Odds are really low, but I think he deserves it; should be able to control the pace better with the Derby sprinters sitting the Preakness out, helping to conserve enough for the finishing kick
9 - I'll Have Another (5-2): Again, some really low odds, but post position is much better this time, and Gutierrez has shown he knows how to manage this horse
3 - Pretension (30-1): Won two weeks ago at Pimlico, but probably doesn't have the talent against this field
6 - Creative Cause (6-1): Had a chance in the Derby, but forced to make a wide turn at the end, and still finished 5th; might be a good play for the exotics
8 - Daddy Nose Best (12-1): Didn't show anything special in the Derby, finishing 10th
11 - Cozzetti (30-1): Has only won once in his career, but ran pretty impressively to finish 4th behind Bodemeister last month
1 - Tiger Walk (30-1): Hasn't looked good this year, and post position is a negative too
4 - Zetterholm (20-1): On a three-race winning streak, but those wins came against weak competition at a shorter distance
10 - Optimizer (30-1): Not sure why he is running in the Preakness after a weak 11th place finish
$4 Exacta Box - 7, 9 (Bodemeister, I'll Have Another)
$1 Exacta Box - 5, 7, 9 (Went the Day Well, Bodemeister, I'll Have Another)
$1 Trifecta Box - 5, 7, 9
$1 Trifecta Box - 2, 7, 9 (Teeth of the Dog, Bodemeister, I'll Have Another)
$0.10 Superfecta Box - 2, 5, 7, 9
Total Bets: $28.40
Photo courtesy of AP