$1-million Preakness Stakes – Grade 1
Pimlico Race Course, May 19, Race 12, Post Time 6:18 p.m. EDT
1 3/16 miles, for three-year-olds
TV: NBC 4:30 – 6:45 p.m.
By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase
The 137th running of the $1-million Preakness Stakes (G1) consists of a field of 11 three-year-olds, seven of which return on two weeks rest, six of those after competing in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Of that quintet, Derby winner I'll Have Another and runner-up Bodemeister are the two who will capture the bulk of the attention by the public. I’ll Have Another has now won three straight graded stakes and may be in a position to capitalize if speedy Bodemeister tires in the late stages of the Preakness as he did in the Derby. Derby fourth-place finisher Went the Day Well was 17th in the early stages of the race and, with better early position, could have a say in the outcome of the Preakness, as might Derby fifth-place finisher Creative Cause. Pretension is the only non-Derby starter to be coming back quickly, having won the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Kentucky Derby Day. Two Derby also-rans—Daddy Nose Best (10th) and Optimizer (11th)—are back for another shot against the Derby top pair. Cozzetti finished fourth to Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and sat out the big dance two weeks ago, so he enters the race freshened, as do Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) third- and fourth-place finishers Teeth of the Dog and Tiger Walk, respectively. Zetterholm rounds out the field and enters the race off a win in the Patsyprospect Stakes at Aqueduct.
Went the Day Well might have run a lot better in the Derby had he been lucky enough to have a better early position. Whereas I’ll Have Another was able to avoid any traffic issues whatsoever in the first quarter-mile of the Derby and got a great spot in sixth place, Went the Day Well found himself 11 positions farther back in 17th and suffered from a decent amount of bumping in the early stages of the race. When asked to run, Went the Day Well responded exceptionally well, making up 16 lengths from the half-mile mark to the finish, ending up fourth and just 2 ½ lengths from the winner. With Bodemeister expected to be in front in the early stages of the Preakness, and with only 10 other horses to deal with instead of 19, as was the case in the Derby, Went the Day Well could be right alongside I’ll Have Another this time as they begin to cut into Bodemeister’s lead. Having improved his Equibase Speed Figure for the third straight race in the Derby to a new career high of 105, Went the Day Well could take a big step forward and post the mild upset in the Preakness.
I’ll Have Another earned a career best 108 Equibase Speed Figure winning the Derby, bettering his figure for the third straight race. Ridden perfectly by jockey Mario Gutierrez in all three wins, I’ll Have Another probably will be in a perfect spot in the early stages of the Preakness, as he was in the Derby, hoping to catch probable pacesetter Bodemeister once again. Having now won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Kentucky Derby in succession, and with that last race effort giving him the top speed figure earned by any horse in the Preakness field, I’ll Have Another has proven to be the best three-year-old in the country at this stage and could have what it takes to enter the Belmont Stakes on June 9 in search of the elusive Triple Crown.
Of course, the top two contenders have their work cut out for them if Bodemeister repeats his Derby effort. After setting sizzling early fractions in the Derby, Bodemeister was very game in defeat, battling to the wire to hold off fast-charging Dullahan by a neck for second. Having earned a career-best 112 Equibase Speed Figure winning the Arkansas Derby prior to his game Kentucky Derby effort (106 figure), and with his high cruising speed, Bodemeister could settle into an easy tempo in the early stages of the Preakness and be even more difficult to catch late than he was just two weeks ago.
The rest of the Preakness field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures: Cozzetti (98), Creative Cause (110), Daddy Nose Best (103), Optimizer (104), Pretension (105), Tiger Walk (106), Teeth of the Dog (109) and Zetterholm (101).
Went the Day Well
I’ll Have Another
Follow Ellis on Twitter @Ubercapper