Preakness Stakes

Small Preakness Field Embarrassing?

American Pharoah - KENTUCKY DERBY 141ST Running (Grade I) - 05-02-15 - R11 - CD - Photo credit: Christine Aplin

On Saturday 8 horses will enter the gate for the 140th Preakness Stakes. It’s the smallest field for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness since 2000, when Red Bullet upset Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. Many believe this year’s Preakness is a joke. Not a true test given the small number of runners. Embarrassing to the sport.

Interesting.

First off, the notion that the smaller field somehow makes the Triple Crown for American Pharoah easier is just not true. In fact, it may be just the opposite. Over the past 25 years, the Derby winner has been beaten all five times when there were nine horses or fewer in the Preakness field. It happened most recently to Orb, in 2013. However, it does bode well that Bob Baffert’s record when he runs a Kentucky Derby winner back in the Preakness is perfect. He’s three for three, having won both races with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002. Not to mention that the hall of fame trainer has won the Preakness Stakes a total of five times. He knows how to win this race.

Secondly, we have the top three (and 4 of the top 5 if you want to get specific) Kentucky Derby finishers coming back to square off in the Preakness. It is such a rarity to see this happen.

Having said all this, the betting aspect is hurt by a smaller field. That just comes with the smaller field in general. I won’t argue that. But when it comes to quality, this year’s Preakness towers over recent years. Let’s take, for example, last year when 10 horses entered the Preakness. No one mentioned anything about an embarrassing turnout or the lack of competition for the eventual winner, California Chrome. Is that sweet spot right at 10 horses? Do the general fans just assume a small field is weaker than a larger field? Or is it experts too?

Let’s compare the 2014 Preakness field with this year’s running. Which race do you want?

2014 Preakness Stakes

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

M/L Odds

Previous Race/Finish

1 Dynamic Impact Mark Casse Miguel Mena 12-1 Illinois Derby (G3) / 1st
2 General A Rod Michael Maker Javier Castellano 15-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 11th
3 California Chrome Art Sherman Victor Espinoza 3-5 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 1st
4 Ring Weekend Graham Motion Alan Garcia 20-1 Calder Derby / 2nd
5 Bayern Bob Baffert Rosie Napravnik 10-1 Derby Trial (G3) / 2nd
6 Ria Antonia Tom Amoss Calvin Borel 30-1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) / 6th
7 Kid Cruz Linda Rice Julian Pimentel 20-1 Federico Tesio Stakes / 1st
8 Social Inclusion Manny Azpurua Luis Contreras 5-1 Wood Memorial (G1) / 3rd
9 Pablo Del Monte Wesley Ward Jeffrey Sanchez 20-1 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) / 3rd
10 Ride On Curlin Billy Gowan Joel Rosario 10-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 7th

 

2015 Preakness Stakes

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

M/L Odds

Previous Race/Finish

1 American Pharoah Bob Baffert Victor Espinoza 4-5 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 1st
2 Dortmund Bob Baffert Martin Garcia 7-2 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 3rd
3 Mr. Z D. Wayne Lukas Corey Nakatani 20-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 13th
4 Danzig Moon Mark Casse Julien Leparoux 15-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 5th
5 Tale of Verve Dallas Stewart Joel Rosario 30-1 Maiden Special Weight / 1st
6 Bodhisattva Jose Corrales Trevor McCarthy 20-1 Federico Tesio Stakes / 1st
7 Divining Rod Arnaud Delacour Javier Castellano 12-1 Lexington Stakes (G3) / 1st
8 Firing Line Simon Callaghan Gary Stevens 4-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) / 2nd

 
Still think that 2015 Preakness field size is embarrassing? The 2014 version had the Kentucky Derby winner, two Mr. Z’s and a filly. The 5-1 ML second choice was a horse who finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial. We have 3 horses running Saturday at 4-1 or better. Oh and they finished 1-2-3 in the Kentucky Derby. Salty.

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