Bob Ehalt and Tom Pedulla became fast friends when they met on their first day at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1971. Bob soon introduced Tom to the joys of Thoroughbred racing.
They have endured some rough moments at the track, with Tom taking exception when Bob repeatedly smacks him on the back with a program as one of their horses launches an all-out drive. Much to Tom’s chagrin and the amusement of onlookers, Bob has been known to call for security as he proceeds to cash a $27 triple.
They have owned a number of horses together. They are often seen carrying on at the track as if they never left their teenage years.
Here’s their take on the 143rdPreakness Stakes, set for May 19 at Pimlico Race Course.
PEDULLA: Well, Bob, I counted on history to repeat itself. I counted on the “Curse of Apollo” to hold up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Now, since Justify was good enough to join Apollo (1882) as the only Derby winners that were unraced at two, I will count on him to repeat in the Preakness. As much as I would like to make a case for another starter, it is impossible. All of Bob Baffert’s four previous Derby winners tacked on the Preakness. He has them that sharp, and they easily maintain that edge for two weeks. Unless Mike Smith falls off, I do not see how Justify loses.
EHALT: Well, Thomas, glad to see we are on the same wavelength, and that’s a good thing for you because it was my picks that gave us the boxed exacta and triple in our Derby betting pool. Next time, please ignore all the “wise guys” when they give you a horse like Hofburg. Back to the matter at hand, yes, Baffert is a master at wheeling horses right back in the Preakness and it didn’t seem like the Derby tired Justify at all. His camp doesn’t seem worried about the foot issues and that’s good enough for me. Get ready for Baffert taking another shot at a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. It’s all Justify in the Preakness.
PEDULLA: Bob, brace yourself for this one. Lone Sailor can jump up for second. He endured a poor trip in the Derby, and I love the jockey change to Irad Ortiz, Jr. If the weather forecasts are correct and we get goo for a track, this son of Majestic Warrior broke his maiden by 11 lengths in the slop at Saratoga Race Course last September. Beyond that, he should have a hot pace to close into.
EHALT: Same idea, different horse. If the morning line is correct, the 30-1 odds on Sporting Chance are too good to ignore. He’s always competitive and hopefully rider Luis Contreras does not whack him left-handed with the whip and he runs straight as an arrow in the stretch. It’s a gamble, but at that price it’s worth it.
PEDULLA: Good Magic’s only shot to turn the tables following his runner-up Derby finish may be to stay closer to the pace than he is accustomed. With Justify’s ability to set or lay off swift fractions, Good Magic would pay a price for that strategy. The ultra-consistent 2-year-old champion has never finished worse than third; I see him no better than third with the scenario I expect to unfold.
EHALT: Sounds like the right scenario. Looking at the past performances, it’s Justify and Good Magic and forget the rest. But Good Magic will no doubt try to hook Justify earlier than in the Derby and while it could be a match race to the wire, on a wet, tiring track it will probably catch up with one of them. It wouldn’t surprise me if Good Magic wins, but if I’m taking Justify, then I have to spot him for third. After all, the favorites haven’t run 1-2 in the Preakness since 1981 and the days of Pleasant Colony and smack-talking Johnny Campo. Who wants to buck that streak for a $5 exacta payout? Then again, we did see what happened to Apollo …
PEDULLA: D. Wayne Lukas has been keen on Sporting Chance since he won the Hopeful Stakes despite ducking out last September. He was uncorking a nice move in the Pat Day Mile Presented by L G and E and KU as part of the Derby undercard in his last start when he had to be checked. There is every reason to think he will move forward off that last race and finally display the talent Lukas feels certain is there.
EHALT: I like Lone Sailor as well, but don’t be fooled by that maiden win in the slop. It came in a race taken off the turf so he probably didn’t beat much. What stands out more to me is that horses at long odds rallied from last and next-to-last to finish second in the two of the last three editions of the Preakness, and Senior Investment closed from last to grab third at 31-1 odds last year. Lone Sailor fits that bill, so I’ll include him in the superfecta and hope to make enough in the exotics to buy a bunch of $2 souvenir win tickets on Justify in the Belmont Stakes.