Preakness favorites are no strangers to big-race success

  • Article by: ALICIA WINCZE HUGHES , Lexington Herald-Leader
  • Updated: May 19, 2012 - 9:02 AM

Six horses that ran at the Kentucky Derby lead a top-heavy field, reducing the odds of a Triple Crown newcomer pulling an upset.

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Preakness Stakes entrant I'll Have Another prepares to enter the stable after a bath while barn forman Benjamin Perez holds the reigns after a morning workout at Pimlico Race Course, Friday, May 18, 2012, in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes horse race takes place Saturday.

Photo: Gary Jones, Associated Press

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BALTIMORE - The Preakness Stakes, perhaps more than the other two Triple Crown races, produces results that stand up to long-term scrutiny.

Not since Red Bullet in 2000 has a Preakness winner failed to win either another graded stakes or earn a championship before their career reached its conclusion.

With a strong core of Kentucky Derby runners, including race victor I'll Have Another, returning for Saturday's 137th running of the 1 3/16-mile classic at Pimlico Race Course, it again appears unlikely this year's Preakness winner will go down as a fluke.

One thing that is certain, however, is at least one horse considered capable of being a divisional leader heading into the race is going to be regrouping by Sunday morning.

For the first time since 2007, the 1-2 finishers in the Kentucky Derby are both back in the Preakness Stakes. I'll Have Another and morning-line favorite Bodemeister head up an 11-horse lineup that features six holdovers from the first Saturday in May.

The Preakness is usually where the top sophomores separate themselves. Last year's winner Shackleford -- who recently took the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes -- was the first Preakness winner since the aforementioned Red Bullet not to win an Eclipse Award.

On paper, the two best horses going to post Saturday are I'll Have Another and Bodemeister -- the Derby winner who seemingly has no end to his stamina and the front-runner who nearly defied conventional wisdom on how far and fast he could go on May 5.

Among those hoping to break up that two-horse showdown Saturday are Went the Day Well and Grade I winner Creative Cause, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Derby, respectively. The other two Derby holdovers are Daddy Nose Best and Optimizer.

Considering there have been only three Preakness Stakes winners since Gate Dancer's victory in 1984 who did not contest the Kentucky Derby, it stands to reason the five new shooters in Saturday's field have more than a lack of form working against them.

"I don't know the new shooters but there are four horses coming out of the Derby who will all be tough," said Mike Harrington, trainer of Creative Cause, who had never been out of the money in eight starts prior to his Derby run. "Will any of the others beat them, I don't know. I wouldn't think so but that's why they run horse races."

Bodemeister, the lightly raced son of Empire Maker, has such an effortless cruising speed, rating him is almost not an option for his Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith.

What Smith and trainer Bob Baffert are hoping for, instead, is that Bodemeister can catch enough of a breather up front to make his speed hold up over the final furlong. That was not the case on Derby Day when Trinniberg pushed the colt through fractions of :22.32 and :45.39, leading to him being caught in the lane by I'll Have Another.

Etc.

• Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, a two-time Preakness winner, failed a Breathalyzer test in New York and was removed as the rider of 15-1 Preakness long shot Tiger Walk and replaced by Ramon Dominguez.

He has not been suspended, but the New York State Racing and Wagering Board is conducting an investigation. Dominguez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading jockey, is looking for his first Preakness victory.

  • 137TH PREAKNESS STAKES • Post time: 5:05 p.m. Saturday • Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore • TV: Ch. 11

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