This year’s Preakness obviously is not going to be an historical gem, at least on paper, considering it not only lacks the Kentucky Derby winner, for the time ever it lacks two Kentucky Derby winners – the one who had it initially and the one who snatched it away from him.
And to go one better, of the first four horses who crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs, not one is back for the Preakness. That leaves us with a wide-open competitive race, including four who survived the muddy mess that was this year’s controversial Kentucky Derby. But I have to admit, I have no strong feelings about this race.
Unable to separate the array of talented newcomers and the Derby runners, I have decided, with great stubbornness, to give WIN WIN WIN one one one more chance in the hope he simply did not like the sloppy track, and yet again ran counter productive to his best style by dropping back to 17th, which eliminated him right off the bat in my eyes. I realize that is the way he’s been running in his last five starts, but I have no reason why other than him picking up a bad habit after an awkward break back in December and not being able to break it. But I continue to cling to the hope that one day he will snap out of it and show the speed he did in his first two starts. Until then I will continue to believe he is a much better horse than he’s been showing and one day will pop a big one. But this is his last chance as far as me supporting him at the windows. He has already been a sore spot on my Derby Dozen, considering how high I ranked him.
Unfortunately, he drew the 13 post, which is near-disastrous at Pimlico, which pushes my limits even farther when it comes to supporting him. Now his only hope is to take back again and just hope Alwaysmining, Warrior’s Charge, Bodexpress, Market King, and War of Will, who drew the rail yet again, make the pace contentious enough to set it up for him. That’s a lot of speed and pace pressure, so there is still hope for him.
The longshot who very few have been mentioning and who I believe is sitting on a peak performance is SIGNALMAN. This big long-striding colt it not going to blow you away with his one-paced style of running, but he has the ability to move up early in the race, down the backstretch, and keep going. His relentless grinding style won him the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and earned him placings in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Breeders’ Futurity, and Blue Grass Stakes.
After a three-month hiatus between 2 and 3 he returned in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a race, in my mind, he never should have run in, as he is one horse not made for 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park with that extremely short stretch and normally speed-favoring surface. He rebounded off that non-effort with a solid third in the Blue Grass, getting nipped for second by Win Win Win, jumping 10 points on his Brisnet figure. He could have still gotten into the Derby had he entered following two scratches, but he wasn’t, so here he is, his third start off a layoff, ready for a huge effort following a series of strong works. Of his last seven works, he has broken 1:00 for five furlongs four times and most recently blew out a half in :47 3/5.
At the price he’s going to be, and the class he has shown since last October, he might be worth a shot, especially with all the speed in there. He is not fast enough on Thoro-Graph, so he will have to improve significantly, something he might able to do considering he really needed his first two starts and is only now reaching his peak form.
Considering I cannot separate the others and, as mentioned earlier, I have no strong feelings about this race, I will bet Win Win Win and Signalman to win looking for a price and back end both of them in the exactas with Improbable, War of Will, Alwaysmining, Owendale, Bourbon War, Anothertwistafate, who also drew poorly, and Laughing Fox. Because I am betting very little on this race and only looking for big prices on top, I would consider putting a win bet on BOURBON WAR
if he's about 12-1 or higher. I'm not a fan of equipment changes in a classic but those small blinkers could help him at Pimlico.