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Two years ago American Pharoah was a stand out in all his races and went on to sweep the Triple Crown, the first horse to do this since 1978, then things went back to normal in 2016 with three different horses winning the Triple Crown races. It remains to be seen what will happen with the 2017 series, so we will attempt to handicap the probable Preakness field using angles that have pointed at the winner in past years. It is well known that to win the Preakness, you have to have raced in the Kentucky Derby, and if the Derby is not in the horse's past performances he is an immediate toss for the win. In recent years, only Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, and Rachel Alexandra in 2009 skipped the Derby to win, although some would argue Rachel Alexandra was good enough to win the Derby. It should come as no surprise that 5 of the top 6 horses in the analysis all ran in the Derby. Although Pimlico is often called a speed-favoring oval, about half of the Preakness winners came from off the pace, while 1/3 of winners stalk. However this angle is no longer as strong as it once was and we no longer penalize/upgrade horses based on running style.
We also recommend checking workout patterns in the final week since these are a good indicator of who is ready. Preferably you're looking for horses that came out of the Derby and only had one (no more, no less) workout between starts, not necessarily at Pimlico. Not having a work between the Derby and the Preakness used to be a negative, but perhaps this angle has been negated as recent winners Exaggerator, American Pharoah, California Chrome, I'll Have Another, Shackleford, and Lookin at Lucky (6 of the last 7) all did not post a timed work during the 2 week layoff. (2013 winner Oxbow did, en route to his upset of Derby winner Orb). But note again that all of them came out of the Derby.
Gunnevera after winning the Fountain of Youth.
Two horses tied with the most points and are listed alphabetically:
Gunnevera ranked second in our Derby analysis (but finished a disappointing 7th) but comes out tied for the top spot in Baltimore. However, neither of the top 2 scored on all possible points. Gunnevera qualifies in that he is coming out of the Derby (which means he also qualifies under the 30-day layoff), has enough races at 2 and 3, has a stakes win this year (Fountain of Youth), and qualifies on Dosage (we still use the maximum of 4 like the Derby). He fails on two factors - his 7th place finish in the Derby is not "sharp" and he has never run a 100 Beyer, his best still the 97 in the Fountain of Youth.
Lookin at Lee finished second in the Kentucky Derby at 33-1 from the tough inside post and may well turn the tables on Always Dreaming on Saturday. This qualifies as a sharp prep, the preferred race, and inside 30 days. He qualifies on number of starts, juvenile stakes, and dosage. Where he didn't score points, he still does not have a stakes win this year and his best Beyer is the 97 earned in the Derby.
The next four horses tied with the second most points and are listed alphabetically:
Always Dreaming was the runaway winner of both the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby, but this is the first time in recent memory the Derby winner did not come out on top in the Preakness analysis. He will undoubtedly go off at very short odds at Pimlico so perhaps he is vulnerable here? Clearly the Derby win earns him a sharp prep in the preferred race inside 30 days, and the required stakes win this year to go with his Florida Derby. He is only one of two horses in this analysis to qualify on Beyers, having earned a 102 in the Derby. He has three knocks - he only made 2 starts as a juvenile (we need 3), he did not compete in stakes company as a juvenile, and his dosage index is 5.
Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby then finished a respectible 4th in the Kentucky Derby as the 13-2 second choice. As the Juvenile champion he qualified on those factors (number of starts and stakes in-the-money), and continued on to win the Arkansas Derby earning him the required stakes win this year. He ran in the Derby but unfortunately that race doesn't qualify as a sharp prep. Although his best Beyer is a 102 earned in the Juvenile we are looking for a triple-digit figure earned this year, where his best was the 92 at Oaklawn. Like Always Dreaming, his dosage index of 5 fails to meet the standard.
Hence won the Sunland Derby then disappointed in 11th in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 15-1, earnig him the correct prep inside 30 days to go with his three races at 2, number of starts this year with a stakes win, and his dosage index of 3.31. He lacks the sharp prep, did not compete in stakes last year, and his best Beyer is the 93 earned at Sunland.
Lancaster Bomber is the first "new shooter" who may be entered, but is not confirmed. He finished third in the UAE Derby then won the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, run on the same day as the Kentucky Derby. He is the second horse to qualify on Beyers as the 116 Racing Post Rating he earned at Newmarket is approximately 103 on the Beyer scale. This qualifies as a stakes win at 3, a sharp prep inside 30 days, to go with his 3 starts at 2 including an in-the-money stakes performance (second in the Dewhurst Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf). However his dosage index is 4.33, he does not have enough starts this year (just 2), and he did not run in the Derby.
We have a three way tie for third, listed alphabetically:
Girvin won the Louisiana Derby then disappointed in 13th in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 22-1. This earns him a stakes win this year, the correct prep race, and inside the 30 day limit, but not a sharp prep. He only raced once as a juvenile so he lacks the number of starts, stakes races at 2, and his best Beyer is a 91. He a possible entrant but not confirmed.
Multiplier won the Illinois Derby on April 22, which qualifies as a sharp prep inside 30 days. On the downside he did not race in the Kentucky Derby, did not race as a juvenile (his first start was in January this year), and his best Beyer is a slow 88 earned at Hawthorne.
Senior Investment was 6th in the Louisiana Derby then came back to win the Lexington Stakes, which gives him a sharp prep, but just beyond the 30-day layoff limit and not in the correct race. He had enough starts as a juvenile but needing 4 tries to break maiden he did not compete in stakes. His best Beyer is the 89 earned at Keeneland.
Two horses tied for fourth, listed alphabetically:
Conquest Mo Money finished second in both the Sunland Derby and the Arkansas Derby after winning the Mine That Bird Derby. This gives him the required stakes win and number of starts at 3, a sharp final prep, and he qualifies on dosage wih 2.33. He skipped the Derby so is coming off too long a layoff, he did not race as a juvenile (his debut was on January 6), and his best Beyer was the 93 at Oaklawn.
Term of Art finished 7th in the Santa Anita Derby in his last start, so he did not have a sharp prep, is coming off an extended layoff, and skipped the Kentucky Derby. He does not have a stakes win this year, and his best Beyer is the 92 earned when third in the San Felipe. He did have enough starts at 2 and 3 incluidng a stakes win as a juvenile, and his dosage qualifies at 2.60.
Cloud Computing was second in the Gotham and third in the Wood Memorial, a sharp prep, so he is also coming to the Preakness off an extended layoff having skipped the preferred prep race. He lacks a stakes win this year, did not start as a juvenile, and his best Beyer is the 96 earned in the Gotham. . He does qualify on dosage with his 3.36 index.
Malagacy scored the fewest points and is ranked last. The Rebel winner finished a disappointing 5th in the Arkansas Derby, preventing him from making the Kentucky Derby field. He skipped the preferred prep, did not have a sharp race coming into the Preakness, did not race as a juvenile (debut on January 4), and has a best Beyer of 97 earned in an allowance race at Gulfstream in February at 6 1/2 furlongs. FInally, he has the worst dosage index in the field at 6.20. He is only a possible entrant and is not confirmed.
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