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 1970.
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 and were part of the group that owned 1998 Whitney Handicap runner-up Tale of the Cat. They are often seen carrying on as if they never left their teenage years.
Here is their take on the 145thPreakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course:
PEDULLA: Bob, as much as I would like to make a case against favored Authentic, I cannot. He is training too well for that. Just look at his two sizzling works since winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve: five furlongs in 59.20 and then, on Monday, four furlongs in 47.60. Beyond that, Bob Baffert has a long history of being able to keep his Derby winners sharp for the Preakness, a major reason why he is gunning for a record eighth Preakness win. With Authentic proving beyond a doubt in the Derby that he can handle distance, I say Baffert nabs number eight.
EHALT: Thomas, I couldn’t agree with you more. Fitness is the key with Baffert’s best horses and Authentic seems to have come out of the Kentucky Derby even sharper than he was on the first Saturday in September. There’s a lot of speed in this race, but he’s the speed of the speed and should be able to put away those who choose to run with him early. Be it two weeks or four weeks, once again Baffert will win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
PEDULLA: Even though I am covering the Preakness remotely, I hear there is quite a buzz about Pneumatic. With the race so late in the year, I am looking for a 3-year-old that is just beginning to blossom after showing improvement with every start. Pneumatic ran fourth in the June 20 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and comes off a win in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. I think Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has him primed for a big effort here.
EHALT: Buzz? I’m having déjà vu. This brings back memories of high school, specifically when you had me go up to your French teacher, who was also our homeroom teacher, to ask a meaningless question. Since I didn’t take French, he would not cover up the test he was writing up and I was able to memorize the questions for you. You had to see my notes. I’m also picking Pneumatic for second. He’s a fresh horse with some upside and might be able to pick up the pieces after Authentic leaves his pursuers gassed. They say great minds think alike, though in our case it usually means a bunch of ripped up tickets.
PEDULLA: It is easy to root for Art Collector, Bob, after trainer Tommy Drury did right by his horse in scratching him from the Derby with a minor foot issue. Art Collector’s works since then are impressive, but not quite as eye-opening as Authentic’s. He is 4-for-4 this season and he handled the filly Swiss Skydiver rather easily in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. While he is a major player, I suspect he is a notch below Authentic.
EHALT: Thousand Words left quite an impression on the Kentucky Derby, but for the wrong reasons. It was an unfortunate turn of events when he flipped in the paddock and had to be scratched and Baffert’s assistant trainer Jim Barnes suffered a broken wrist. Thankfully, Thousand Words came away unscathed and he could make amends here with a big effort. If he can run back to his win over Honor A. P. in the Shared Belief Stakes, he’ll be a force here.
PEDULLA: Max Player closed to be fifth in the Derby after third-place finishes in the Belmont and Runhappy Travers Stakes. I am sure we both agree that distance is certainly no question for him. With aggressive Paco Lopez aboard, I think he will be closer to the pace in his second start for Asmussen. He is very capable of bringing home a check for fourth.
EHALT: I believe the two best horses in the race are Authentic and Art Collector. That could be the cold exacta and possibly the boxed exacta. Yet if Art Collector engages Authentic too soon, it could lead to my scenario of some tired pursuers. Given the pace scenario, I’m going to gamble and put him in the superfecta as the fourth-place finisher as opposed to the exacta.