The second leg of The Triple Crown provides handicappers with another unique set of challenges. A field of 11 will break from the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, with six of the runners wheeling right back from performing in the Kentucky Derby.
Bodemeister (No. 7, 8/5) will again be able to garner the lead, but it’s quite likely he won’t have to exact as much energy as he did early on in the Kentucky Derby. The easy thought process is the shorter distance should make life easier on Bob Baffert’s talented three-year-old, but that may not be the case.
Can Bodemeister be caught? He ran an incredible race in the Derby and won’t have Trinniberg to deal with this time around. The question that has to be answered is how much did his runner-up effort at Louisville take out of him?
The fact that the race is shorter will prompt several jockeys to be in closer contact with the pacesetter, and weaving through traffic should not be as daunting a task as it was two weeks ago. Went the Day Well’s closing effort in the Kentucky Derby gave the appearance of a sure fire Belmont Stakes winner. The connections could see that but feel with a cleaner trip, the Preakness is right in his wheelhouse as well. Went The Day Well is 6-1 and will break from the fifth post position.
Creative Cause (No. 6, 6/1), Daddy Nose Best (No. 8, 12/1) and Optimizer (No. 10, 30/1) will take another kick at the can in Maryland. Creative Cause ran wide in the Derby and could turn things around on Saturday, while Daddy Nose Best simply didn’t fire. The up and down nature of three-year-old thoroughbreds has trainer Steve Assmussen willing to give Daddy Nose Best another shot.
I’ll Have Another is priced at 5/2 midweek and faces another stiff test Saturday out of the ninth post. To his credit, he has answered the bell throughout his sophomore campaign. Pressure continues to mount on young rider Mario Guittierez, but this kid seems to have ice in his veins. He couldn’t have mapped out a better trip in Louisville and his mounts running style suits this race beautifully.
The new shooters have arrived and freshness can certainly be viewed as an asset when facing the group that had to tackle the longest race of their careers just two weeks ago. No. 2 Teeth of the Dog (15/1) will be saddled by trainer Michael Matz, who will wait to run Union Rags in the Belmont. The three-year-old son of Bluegrass Cat looks to have the best chance of crashing the exotics off a third place finish in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in early April.
No. 11 Cozzetti (30/1) has been working like a top at Churchill Downs. He was last seen finishing fourth in the Arkansas Derby behind Bodemeister.
Dullahan, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, will bypass the Preakness with plans of running in the Belmont. Trainer Dale Romans was planning to take another shot at Pimlico, but Dullahan’s owner Jerry Crawford made the ultimate decision to take the short break.
The $1,000,000 Preakness Stakes is Race 12 on Pimlico's Saturday card with a post time of 6:18 p.m. (ET), and NBC will have the broadcast with pre-race coverage beginning nearly two hours earlier.