Successful Preakness Invaders Not Historically Prevalent

By Brock Sheridan, The Brock Talk 

Horse racing being the fickle game that it is, makes it difficult to predict entries into a race next week. With that being said, it looks like the Preakness Stakes (gr. 1) will feature a full 14-horse gate when they go to the post May 15. It also looks like the Preakness will be evenly represented by horses that started in the Kentucky Derby and by horses that are new to the Triple Crown.

With much being written and said over the years about the grueling North American Triple Crown and the scarcity of those that have taken all three races (there have been only 11 since 1919), it might appear to some that these Preakness invaders may have an advantage. The thinking goes, and logically so I might add, that Kentucky Derby horses are coming out of perhaps the most taxing race of their careers carrying more weight further and against more horses than they will ever again. And they must bounce back into the Preakness with only two weeks rest - or one or two weeks less than most trainers would like. 

That of course contributes to the fact that 13 of the 20 Kentucky Derby starters this year are not being pointed toward the Preakness. But once a Derby runner makes it into the Preakness starting gate, they have a much better chance of winning than their invading rivals from strictly a historical perspective.

Looking at the last 50 Preakness Stakes going back to 1959, only eight Preakness winners did not start in the Kentucky Derby. The most recent being eventual 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, who became the first filly since Nellie Morse in 1924 to win the Preakness and the first to ever do so after a victory in the Kentucky Oaks.

Prior to that, after an easy win in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in late April, Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness tragically marred by the injury to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

Six years earlier Red Bullet avenged his loss in the 2000 Wood Memorial to Fusaichi Pegasus, by passing on the Derby and coming back to win the Preakness over his Kentucky Derby winning nemesis.

One has to go back 17 years to find another Preakness winner who did not start in the Derby. Both the 1982 and 1983 Preakness winners made their previous start in a race other than the Kentucky Derby. Deputed Testamony won the 1983 Preakness after taking the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico and Aloma's Ruler won the previous Preakness, after having won the Withers Stakes.

In one of the most famous and controversial Preakness Stakes, D. Wayne Lukas brought Codex to Baltimore in 1980 to take on the Kentucky Derby winning filly Genuine Risk. In February Lukas had not included Codex among his five Kentucky Derby nominees. So after their win in the Santa Anita Derby, they made their next stop in Baltimore for the Preakness. (Ironically, it was Lukas' son Jeff who had nominated Codex to the Preakness saying later he would pay the $100 fee because "My dad doesn't know how good Codex is.")

Nearing the top of the Pimlico stretch, Codex and Angel Cordero Jr. where in front but Genuine Risk and Jacinto Vasquez were bearing down on the outside. Just as it seemed the filly was about to pass, Cordero appeared to steer Codex wide out of the turn, taking Geneuine Risk and Vasquez with them and stopping the momentum of the charging filly.

Former jockey Eddie Arcaro, working as a analysist for the ABC telecast, told 30 million viewers that if he were a steward, he would disqualify Codex. Moments later the track stewards disallowed the claim of foul and kept Codex the winner. The Pimlico switchboard lit up within seconds and angry calls persisted at the track for weeks.

Although nominated for the Triple Crown, trainer Del Carroll chose not to run Bee Bee Bee in the 1972 Kentucky Derby. However, after winning the Survivor Stakes at Pimlico, he entered Bee Bee Bee in the Preakness only to see him go gate-to-wire at 19-1 odds over Riva Ridge on a sloppy track.

In another famous Preakness, Greek Money freshened at Pimlico while Ridan won the 1962 Kentucky Derby. The two locked strides lengths ahead of the field down the stretch of the Preakness and racing fans were given not only an exciting finish, but an unusual post race as well.

Jockey Manuel Ycaza on the second-place Ridan, claimed foul on jockey John Rotz aboard the winning Greek Money. Perhaps dismissing the new technology of film patrol in his early action and later claim, it was discovered by the eye in the sky that the hot tempered Ycaza had in fact sent an elbow directly to the chin of Rotz just before the wire. Rotz and Greek Money kept the victory and Ycaza got a 10-day suspension.


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