We now come to what is actually my favorite of all the Triple Crown races. The Derby has the build-up and the history and the Belmont has the pay-off (or failure) of a Triple Crown winning possibility. However, The Preakness is the race that sets everything up for that history to be achieved. It is the race that creates the hype and the build-up for a Triple Crown chase and while we haven't had that ultimate triumph since 1978, there have been countless chances since then. Will we have another chance this year? Here is the analysis:
Yes, I think, we will have a chance at a Triple Crown winner in 2011 becuase I am picking #11 Animal Kingdom to win the Preakness on Saturday. I will allow that he likely won the Derby mainly because John Velazquez was on him two weeks ago, but Johnny V returns to the saddle here. The colt has never been worse than second in five lifetime starts and Derby-winning horses usually give a good account of themselves in the second leg (Super Saver being the exception). Barry Irwin certainly did himself no favors with his bitter statements after the Derby, but his current trainer, Graham Motion, seems to have everything in motion for a shot at history in three more weeks. For second, I will go with #9 Mucho Macho Man, who closed so impressively at Churchill Downs to get third. While he was closer to the pace than the eventual winner, he didn't get uncorked until late in the stretch and by then, it was just too late. He has the speed figures to be a factor in here and as has been said before, the horses that run in the Derby always appear to have a bit more two weeks later. He did post a bullet workout on May 17 over the training track at Belmont, covering four furlongs in the slop in 49 1/5 seconds. I will inject a "new shooter" in the third spot with #8 Dance City. I expect him to be close to the pace in this race (along with Flashpoint and Shackleford), but I don't think Flashpoint is suited for this distance and Shackleford gave so much two weeks ago, he might be a little weaker here. Dance City pressed the pace in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and survived to end up third, behind Archarcharch and Nehro, neither of whom are here. His price of 12-1 is also attractive. I will put the Derby favorite, #10 Dialed In, next. He did not run at all in the Derby, especially since the pace was much slower than was expected. He rallied past some tiring horses to get up to eighth. I think he will benefit from a little quicker tempo here, which I expect to happen. Don't forget, Nick Zito has won the Preakness before after a disappointing Derby run with Louis Quatorze in 1996. I will go five-deep here with #6 Sway Away, who could be a price pick to upset the apple cart in the Preakness. He was the last horse left out of the Derby field and the extra rest could be to his benefit off two subpar performances. His Sire, Afleet Alex, won this race in 2005 despite being manhandled at the top of the stretch by Scrappy T. Garrett Gomez gets the call. Here is the play for the 136th running of The Preakness:
$1 TRI 8-9-11 with 6-8-9-11 with 6-7-8-9-10-11-14
10-cent SPR 6-8-9-11 with 6-8-9-11 with 6-7-8-9-10-11-14 with 5-6-7-8-9-10-11-13-14
The blog did have the winner of the Peter Pan last week to get off the losing streak, but we are still MINUS $425 for 2011. Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!