2009 PREAKNESS PICKS
PREDICTIONS – ANALYSIS – EXOTICS
Along with everyone else on the planet Earth, I selected Preakness winner Big Brown last year. He powered home to a very easy victory and was quite a pleasure to watch. However, he offered little to no value at the betting window. This year will be much different. A large field full of contenders has gathered to try and take the second leg of the Triple Crown. Just like the Kentucky Derby, nearly everyone in this year’s Preakness has a shot to find the winners circle.
Winner: Papa Clem
Rafeal Bejarano rode this son of Smart Strike valiantly in the Kentucky Derby en route to a Fourth place finish. He wasn’t quite ready then, but I think that race may have allowed him to improve enough to surpass the three foes that finished in front of him. He has great tactical speed, and Bejarano can place him just about anywhere he wants. This colt ran great when he put away Old Fashioned to take the Arkansas Derby by a half length.
I love Papa Clem’s pedigree. He is a son of Smart Strike, who sired 2007 Preakness winner Curlin. I expect him to have no problems with the 9.5 furlongs distance. He has been gradually improving throughout the year and I think he could be set to peak in the Preakness. I expect fair odds on him to be between 5-1 and 6-1.Trainer Gary Stute watched his dad win the Preakness with Snow Chief many years ago, and I’ve heard him say that was the best day of his life. I’m sure if Papa Clem were able to take the race that would change!
Top Contenders: Pionerof The Nile, Rachel Alexandra, Musket Man, Big Drama, Friesan Fire
If you haven’t seen Rachel Alexandra’s 20 ¾ length win in the Kentucky Oaks, I suggest you head over to Youtube and check it out. It was easily one of the most visually impressive races I have ever seen; period. She is so good that Calvin Borel has decided to ride her instead of retaining the mount on Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. This will be the first time in the history of the Preakness anyone has taken off the Kentucky Derby winner to ride another horse. It speaks volumes to her ability. I expect the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro to be the favorite, but I was stunned to see her at 4/5 in the future books. She is a great filly, but I could never take 4/5 on her against the boys. A fair price for her would be about 2-1 or 5/2.
Pioneerof The Nile proved himself over a dirt surface in the Kentucky Derby, and hasn’t put in a bad race all year long. Bob Baffert has been in this position more than once, and has won the Preakness many times. I think a faster pace would work to his benefit, but it could also backfire if Gomez lays too close. He is arguably the most experienced colt in the race, and will offer value at the betting window.
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Musket Man was beaten just a nose by Pioneerof The Nile when he finished third in the Kentucky Derby. He has lost just twice in his career, and he owns wins in the Illinois Derby, and the Tampa Bay Derby. He has outrun his pedigree to this point, and I doubt the 9.5 furlongs distance will bug him. If he improves, he could be the one to beat with Eibar Coa aboard.
Perhaps the best value in the race comes with Swale Stakes runner up Big Drama. He earned a BSF of 108 for that performance, and was coming in on a 5 race win streak. His best win came in the Delta Jackpot over Wood Memorial runner up West Side Bernie. His sire tends to produce sprinters, but Big Drama has won at 8.5 furlongs and one more furlong shouldn’t be pushing the envelope. I expect him to be somewhere around 10-1, and if you’re a value player you have to bet this guy.
I was pretty shocked when my Kentucky Derby selection, Friesan Fire, ran 18th in the Run for the Roses. He did have an excuse, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. The LArry Jones trainee grabbed a quarter at the start, and was bleeding most of the way. You could actually see his blood on the track. He was coming into the race on 7 weeks race, and probably needed the race. I expect a much improved run from him this time around.
$10 to win on PAPA CLEM
$1 TRIFECTA 3,7,9/1,3,5,7,9/13
$2 EXACTA 1,5,7,8,9,11/13
$1 SUPERFECTA 13/7,9/3,5,7,9/1,3,5,7,8,9
$1.1 million Preakness Stakes
1 Big Drama J. Velazquez D. Fawkes 10-1 2 Mine That Bird M. Smith B. Woolley Jr. 9-2 3 Musket Man E. Coa D. Ryan 10-1 4 LUv Gov J. Theriot D.W. LUkas 50-1 5 Friesan Fire G. Saez L. Jones 10-1 6 Terrain J. Rose A. Stall Jr. 30-1 7 Papa Clem R. Bejarano G. Stute 8-1 8 General Quarters J. Leparoux T. McCarthy 20-1 9 Pioneerof the Nile G. Gomez B. Baffert 5-1 10 Flying Private A. Garcia D.W. LUkas 50-1 11 Take the Points E. Prado T. Pletcher 30-1 12 Tone It Down K. Desormeaux W. Komlo 50-1 13 Rachel Alexandra C. Borel S. ASMUssen 9-5
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