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PREAKNESS CLOSERS

 

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 Stakes.



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 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.

 

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