Saturday, May 17, 2008

Can Anyone Beat BIG BROWN?

So if BIG BROWN doesn't do it today, who can or will?

Well, you have to start with GAYEGO, simply because he is the only other Kentucky Derby horse running today, and horses that ran in the Derby have won 20 of the last 22 Preakness Stakes. In those last 22 years, 226 horses have run in the Preakness; 122 of those have been horses exiting the Derby, which is 54%, yet they have won the Preakness a whopping 91% of the time. So the first place to look for any Preakness winner is horses exiting the Derby, and this year GAYEGO is the only other one. Yes, he ran a poor 17th in the Derby, but he had a horrible trip, starting badly, then getting bumped and pushed around, and essentially his Derby was over by the time he rounded the first turn. So if you are inclined to give him another chance after a horrific trip in the Derby, then you can fall back on the fact that this horse had 3 wins in 5 starts before the Derby, had never finished worse than 2nd, won the Arkansas Derby, and has the highest Beyer speed figure {103, Arkansas Derby} of any horse in the race not name BIG BROWN. And at 11-1 there's definitely some value there.

KENTUCKY BEAR is a very talented 3 year old that is yet unproven; he's the least experienced horse in the field with only 3 career starts. He'll probably be 2nd or 3rd choice, but you are definitely betting on the come. He could be like a Bernardini in 2006, who was super talented yet unproven, and romped in his coming out party in the Preakness. On the other hand, he could be a talented horse that is found wanting when running against horses of this caliber.

After that every horse is a longshot of some sort, so you have to find something to get behind. For instance, RACECAR RHAPSODY is a late closer, so if the pace of the race is fast then he has a great chance to come flying late and hit the board.

HEY BYRN is a good horse and with his win in the Holy Bull stakes has a win at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, something that no other horse besides BIG BROWN has. He has as good a chance as any of the non BIG BROWN horses; the trick is that he drew the outside post, which is a significant disadvantage in this race and lessens the chances of him having a good trip.

MACHO AGAIN is a talented horse, but has never raced more that 7 1/2 furlongs {15/16 of a mile}, so the question is can he get the distance. He's also on the rail, in the 1 hole, which is a disadvantage.

STEVIL has Nick Zito as his trainer, and made a big effort in the Bluegrass, so he could be sitting on a big race. On the other hand, the Bluegrass is run on a synthetic track, so it's hard to say if his effort will translate.

Those are the horses that I think could win if BIG BROWN is off, or who are likely to place or show in the event that BIG BROWN does win today, so I won't get into the others. Not to say they can't hit the board, just that I don't have anything informative to say about them.

I don't really like the race as far as betting, but if I was at Pimlico today I'd probably pick a horse other than BIG BROWN that I think can finish 2nd behind him and even win if he falters, and bet that horse across the board at a nice price. I'd probably go with $10 on GAYEGO across the board, $10 on HEY BYRN across the board as well, and then bet some sort of trifecta box with BIG BROWN on top, GAYEGO, HEY BYRN, RACECAR RHAPSODY, KENTUCKY BEAR, STEVIL, and TRES BORRACHOS in the place and show spots- a $30 1 dollar trifecta ticket, for a total of $90 wagered.

That being said, I hope that BIG BROWN wins today; it would be good for racing, and if there's one thing racing needs right now, it's for something positive and good to happen.

First and foremost, I'm just hoping that they all make it around the track safely today, no matter who wins.

Enjoy the race, and good luck.

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