A Classy Champion, 1989 Belmont Stakes Winner Easy Goer
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.
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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 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 Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course:
PEDULLA: Well, Bob, we landed on the same horse to win the Preakness, First Mission, and I guess that was too much pressure for him to bear. He’s been scratched with a left-hind issue. I am moving up Blazing Sevens, my initial second-place choice. In bypassing the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, he is taking the same path as trainer Chad Brown’s previous two Preakness winners, Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting last year. With First Mission out, that looks like a winning formula to me. Blazing Sevens has been training sharply since his third-place effort in the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. He needs to move forward off that effort – and will.
EHALT: I initially warned everyone about the Pedulla-Ehalt whammy. My apologies to the First Mission connections. To avoid more turmoil, I’ll take Mage. The pace could be more of a problem now, but he does not have to be as far back as he was in the Kentucky Derby. He’s the best horse and that matters most.
PEDULLA: Why am I dissing Mage? He tends to start slowly and found himself far back in the Kentucky Derby before mounting an impressive rally during which everything went right for jockey Javier Castellano. As we have both seen over the years, that closing style is not conducive to success at Old Hilltop. I also think the two-week turnaround will hurt this lightly-raced runner as he faces several talented new shooters.
EHALT: I think National Treasure will benefit most from the slow pace and work out a great trip. He’ll be the one to catch in the stretch and it would not be much of a surprise if he hangs on and spoils a Triple Crown bid.
PEDULLA: Over the years, Bob, we have seen Hall of Famer Bob Baffert pile up so many Preakness wins. He goes for his record eighth “W” this year with National Treasure, who drew the rail and will be equipped with blinkers. I look for him and cagey jockey John Velazquez to play “catch me if you can.” The son of Quality Road is winless in four starts since he broke his maiden Sept. 3 at Del Mar, most recently settling for fourth in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. His resume suggests he cannot take it all the way on the front end but can hang on for a piece of the pie.
EHALT: I had Blazing Sevens third before and I’ll keep him there. I’m expecting an improved performance from him.
PEDULLA: Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is running Red Route One back quickly following his victory in a minor Oaklawn Park stakes race on April 22. I always interpret that as a good sign. Red Route One ran well enough before a disappointing sixth in the Arkansas Derby. He’s the best of the rest in a field short on depth.
EHALT: I’ll add Perform to the mix. Would think a Hall of Famer like Shug McGaughey would not be here if he thought his horse had no shot, so I can see Performer sneaking into the trifecta or superfecta.