#1 American Pharoah (KY) – He’s ready to take the next step towards racing immortality, but this is no easy task. It took most of the stretch for him to get by Firing Line last time out, and this shorter distance might make it tougher. Much has been made about the “32 whips” maybe taking a little out of American Pharoah, but I do not believe that will be the case. He may have not ran his best race in Kentucky (like several others) so I am actually expecting an improved effort. I have been on record in saying American Pharoah would romp in Baltimore…but now things look a little tougher. He is still going to win this race, but I think they’ll make him work for it every step of the way. The rail draw while not a huge deal could still make things even tougher. A classic race is in the cards!
#2 Dortmund (KY) – I’m willing to give him another try even though I have stated several times that I was disappointed that he folded like he did in the Kentucky Derby. However, like I’ve also been saying, the Kentucky Derby can be a strange race. The Preakness seems to be a better gauge on a horses talent, and the small cut back in distance will probably help Dortmund also. We know he’s beaten Firing Line twice already so perhaps he just didn’t run his best race in Kentucky.
#8 Firing Line (KY) – I came away from the Kentucky Derby super impressed with this horse. He put away his nemesis Dortmund with ease, and if he had changed leads in the stretch it may have been much closer between him and the winner American Pharoah. Having jockey Gary Stevens on his side is also a huge plus, as he’s no stranger to winning this race with horses that have good early speed. It will be interesting to see if Firing Line tries to push it early on and get some distance between himself and American Pharoah…with the shorter distance it could make all the difference. However, with his outside post he could also sit off the pace and stalk as well. Stevens can dictate the terms of the race…very dangerous!
#4 Danzig Moon (ON) – Ran pretty well in the Kentucky Derby to finish fifth, but I feel like he’s several lengths behind the top three in this spot. I wouldn’t blame you for playing him underneath in your exotics though as he is the only value horse that is logical. Still believe one of the top three would have to not fire for him to hit the board, but that could always happen.
#3 Mr. Z (KY) – JUST KIDDING!! I put him in this category just to piss people off…honestly I do not think any horse outside the big three can win this race. It would be a monumental upset if one of those three didn’t win.
#5 Tale of Verve (KY) – Recent maiden winner gets thrown to the wolves today, but why not take a shot against a short field? Trainer Dallas Stewart has pulled some miracle second place finishes in the Kentucky Derby, but this would be a bigger miracle today.
#6 Bodhisattva (CA) – Local winner, but not much else positive outside of that. A tremendous jump up in class for this one today, so the home track advantage will become obsolete.
#7 Divining Rod (KY) – Definitely the most established of the new shooters as he won the Lexington Stakes last time out. The question becomes who has he beaten though since he hasn’t had much luck against tougher company. If he splits the field I’d call it a success.