We all watched with bated breath as Curlin
charged through the lane in the 2007 Preakness, and again when Mine
That Bird skimmed up the rail from last to first to take the
Kentucky Derby in 2009. Running style often plays a key role in my
handicapping, and a closer with a deep kick can offer good value.
Let’s take a look at some of the best closers in the 2009 Preakness
Pioneeerof The Nile - While he
closed from far back earlier in his career, this son of Empire Maker
has been much closer in his past few starts. His last trip to the
track resulted in a second place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Garrett Gomez believed he had the race won during the
stretch. Bob Baffert said he believed this one had what it takes to
be a Triple Crown winner. That is just about the ultimate
compliment. Before the first Saturday in May, he had won the four
consecutive races, including the CashCall Futurity, Robert B. Lewis
Stakes, San Felipe Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby. He has proved
he can handle the dirt, and is handled by one of the best
jockey/trainer combinations in all of racing. He has a huge chance,
but will have tons of support from bettors.
General Quarters - The
sentimental favorite in the Kentucky Derby, he finished 10th with a
somewhat difficult trip. His training has been a bit off schedule
due to all the rain in Kentucky (He is still stabled at Churchill
Downs) as of late. I don’t think that will hurt him too much. He has
done much better after running a bad race in the past, and that
trend could rear its head again in the Preakness. His best
performance came when he won the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs,
earning a BSF of 102. He also ran very well to win the Bluegrass
Stakes, earning a BSF of 95. He will almost certainly have to move
forward to win the race, but that is not out of the question for the
son of Sky Mesa.
Terrain - This Albert Stall
trainee most recently finished fourth in the Bluegrass Stakes at
Keeneland. He was four wide early under jockey Julien Leparoux, and
finished 3 ¾ lengths behind the winner. His best career race was
when he finished third in the Louisiana Derby, beaten just a head by
Papa Clem for second place. He also counts a second place finish
behind Square Eddie in the Lanes End Breeders Futurity among his
accolades. He will be up against it in terms of winning the
Preakness, but he does have one advantage in that he will be fresh.
I’m not going to count the son of Sky Mesa out, but he will need to
show he has become a different horse to win.
Flying Private - Normally I
wouldn’t even mention a colt like this one, but after the Kentucky
Derby I have realized ANYTHING can happen. The son of Fusiachi
Pegasus comes from a trainer who has won this race several times and
a jockey who has won it before. His sire was hyped up and bet hard
in the Preakness before losing to Red Bullet in 2000. His best
performance came over the Poly Track when he finished a close second
in the Lanes End Stakes. He will have to reproduce and improve off
that performance if the connections even hope for him to hit the
board here. Anything can happen, but I don’t see it for this one.
BET THE RACE AT BET JAMAICA!