Okay, so maybe my Derby analysis wasn’t so great. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. While I thought one of the four favorites (three after the early morning scratch of I Want Revenge) would win, I had picked Mine That Bird to finish last. Like someone said to me later, “Turn the paper upside down and you had the winner.” At least the Derby wasn’t one of those heartbreaking photo-finish losses or won by a horse that I had considered and crossed out to save money. I could not have picked this year’s romping winner in 100 runnings. In fact, I would pick him last every time, unless I knew the track was going to come up wet again. I truly believe he “freaked” in the mud, probably improving his form 15-20 lengths.

And I will be extremely surprised if Mine That Bird wins again in Saturday’s Preakness. Like many of of those bands from the 70′s and 80′s, I think he might be a one-hit wonder. This race features one potential superstar against the remainder of what appeared to be an excellent 3-year-old crop. But with the two most talented members of this class (Quality Road and I Want Revenge) on the sidelines, this group suddenly isn’t looking all that great.

Pioneerof the Nile is a nice, hard-knocking colt that gamely held second in the Derby despite drifting out and somewhat impeding Musket Man and Papa Clem. Those three were part of a good battle for second and third as ‘Bird splashed away by nearly seven lengths. Friesan Fire deserves a chance to snap back in the Preakness, ala Snow Chief and some others who didn’t fire at Churchill Downs but came back with top efforts two weeks later. New shooters traditionally have not fared all that well in the Preakness, but I do believe Big Drama is a major player in here. Fast early, drawn inside and freshened off his monster effort (DQ’d out of track record-breaking win in the Swale), ‘Drama looks very dangerous.

But if Rachel Alexandra runs back to any of her last four performances, this race is history. She’s won those four races by a combined total of nearly 40 lengths while never being asked for her best. Yes, she wheels back in 15 days (which gives her one day more than her Derby counterparts), drew the 13-post and faces a quicker pace scenario. But, in horse racing, the best horse wins most of the time. And there is no question in my mind that she is the best horse.

Prediction: Rachel Alexandra, Big Drama, Pioneerof the Nile. And since I can’t imagine her new connections wanting to run back in the Belmont three weeks from now, we’ll very likely have three different winners in this year’s Triple Crown series.

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My Saturday Premium Play selection sheet for Hollywood Park will be available late Friday night and will include Preakness selections and betting strategy.


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