The middle jewel of the Triple Crown is Saturday at Old Hilltop. The weather forecast is calling for some rain during the program, so the track condition could be iffy for the Preakness. This does not send me off my top pick in the race which is #3 Musket Man. He ran a great race in the Derby to finish 3rd at 19-1 and his pairing with jockey Eibar Coa has produced that third and a good win in the Illinois Derby. His work at Monmouth on May 12 was a speedy 4F in 46.3. He should be primed for another big effort and keep in mind he has never been worse than third in seven lifetime starts. Derby runner-up, #9 Pioneerof The Nile, stands a good shot of being runner-up again or even better in the Preakness. The Baffert trainee handled the off-track well in the Derby and even if it rains Saturday, it shouldn't affect the So. Cal. runner. While the filly will be the favorite, Pioneerof The Nile should be second choice in the wagering at Pimlico. Speaking of the filly, I will put #13 Rachel Alexandra third. By all rights, she should be the winner. She is the best three-year-old in the country, but the far outside post could be a problem with her speed. It all but guarantees she will have to cover more ground than anyone in the field and anyone that thinks Mine That Bird will bounce off his Derby has to think that she should have a regression off her shattering Oaks performance also. For a longshot to like, how about #11 Take The Points? He is 30-1 on the morning line, adding blinkers, and trained by Todd Pletcher. That's an intriguing trifecta of facts in his favor on Saturday.
What happened to #2 Mine That Bird you might ask? Well, if the track comes up wet, I fully expect him to be in the mix. If not, that bounce factor could strike again. Also, Mike Smith is an excellent jockey, but the ride Calvin Borel gave him in the Derby will become the stuff of legend. Borel is riding the filly in the Preakness. Don't think I dislike #5 Friesan Fire either. My top Derby pick will certainly get some consideration in the Preakness from me.
Tune in on Monday for a look back at the Preakness from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!