TACTICAL SPEED – PREAKNESS STAKES
PICKING A WINNER – 2009
The winner of The Kentucky Derby is almost always the horse with the target on their back come Preakness day. In a lot of cases the Derby winner has returned two weeks after his win and has not been a disappointment. Horses like War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown are just a few of the more recent Derby winners to come back and handle their business in the Preakness. There are other cases where the Derby winners have came back two weeks later and just didnt have the same magic they were able to produce in The Kentucky Derby. Recently horses like Fusaichi Pegasus, Monarchos, and Street Sense werent able to come back and win the second leg of the Triple Crown. What did the horses like Smarty Jones and Big Brown have that ones like Fusaichi Pegasus and Street Sense did not? The answer is simple; tactical speed! If you can recognize what horses will be up front early and which ones will be farther back you might be able to decipher which horses are good to bet against for the win.
I have examined some of the qualities that the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown had, that those who were not able to get it done in the Preakness did not. The most notable thing is tactical speed. One might think that tactical speed wouldnt play a huge role in the race and how the race sets up is more important, but an important note about Pimlico is that it has extremely tight turns which favor horses that are closer to the front end. If you go back and look at the past performances of horses like War Emblem, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown youll see that all three of them were right on the lead which gave them a pretty big advantage over the other horses trying to run them down. In any race that I handicap I always look for a horse with tactical speed over a horse that comes from farther back. This is because a closer is going to need a quick pace and little to no traffic trouble.
Mine That Bird The Derby winner is the one with the least amount of tactical speed. His Derby performance was amazing. He closed from last to first to win going away by over 6 lengths. Despite this, many questions are circling, and some believe that win was a fluke. He will be closing from last again, and will probably have trouble maneuvering around the tight turns. Mine That Bird is clearly in the group of horses like Street Sense, Monarchos, and Fusaichi Pegasus. This makes him a good bet against.
Pioneerof the Nile This long striding son of Empire Maker has displayed the ability to win from just about anywhere on the track. The pace scenario will decide where jockey Garrett Gomez places him early on in the race. I believe he is at his best when he is farther back early on with a hot pace in front of him. One thing I have noticed is that he needs to grab the lead no earlier then inside the 1/8 pole. This is because once he gets the lead he likes to play around.
Papa Clem. Like Pioneerof the Nile, Papa Clem has shown versatility. He can be affective as the pacesetter or as a horse sitting within striking distance. That kind of versatility is what you look for in a Preakness horse and with his big effort to finish Fourth in the Derby it looks like he is going in the right direction.
Rachel Alexandra She is the wildcard in this race after her dominating 20 length win in the Kentucky Oaks. She has had the lead in most of her races, but I believe that was just because her ability towered over her competitors. She will get a nice stalking trip which will make her very tough.
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