5 horses with chance vs. Derby champ in Preakness
All eyes will be on Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another when an 11-horse field lines up for the $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday. A victory, and I'll Have Another will have a chance to become the first Triple Crown champion in 34 years if he goes on to win the Belmont Stakes next month in New York. But a whole bunch of 3-year-olds are out to spoil the party. Some are taking another shot after losing in the Derby, and others, known as ''new shooters,'' skipped the Derby, have fresh legs and are looking to pull an upset.
Here's a look at five horses with a shot to defeat the Derby winner in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
He was the morning-line favorite in the Derby, and he's the morning-line choice in this one, too. Why? Because he's fast, and the 1 1/4-mile Derby distance was just a little too far for him to carry all that speed. The Preakness is a sixteenth-of-a-mile shorter, plus Bodemeister won't be pressured early like he was in the Derby by Trinniberg and Hansen, who are not entered. It probably doesn't hurt that his trainer, Bob Baffert, has won the Preakness five times in 11 tries. Mike Smith is back to ride, and look for the Hall of Fame jockey to put his colt in front right out of the No. 7 gate.
WENT THE DAY WELL
A troubled trip that ended with a speedy finish in the Derby gives Went the Day Well fans hope for an upset. The same team that won last year's Derby with Animal Kingdom only to finish a half-length behind Shackleford in the Preakness is confident their Spiral Stakes winner is ready to win a Classic. The New York-bred colt broke poorly from the No. 13 post under jockey John Velazquez, got caught in traffic through the first turn, but rallied in the stretch to close from ninth and 10 lengths back, to fourth and 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner. In a smaller field, look for Velazquez to avoid early trouble breaking from the No. 5 post and emerge as a major threat down the stretch.
This gray colt is quite familiar with I'll Have Another. He lost to him by a nose in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, and finished fifth - three lengths behind two weeks ago in the 1 1/4-mile Derby. However, Creative Cause beat I'll Have Another last year in the Best Pal. He also owns a win over Bodemeister in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. If jockey Joel Rosario can position Creative Cause in striking position turning for home, the colt would have another chance to show he can finish strong. It didn't happen in the Derby, but the slightly shorter distance may be a positive.
One of the new shooters in the field, he's competed in a trio of graded-stakes races this year. In his last start, the son of Tale of the Cat finished a non-threatening fourth in the Wood Memorial. He was fourth in the Gotham and third in the Withers before that. Tiger Walk has a tendency to lose ground around the turns so trainer Ignacio Correas will fit the colt with blinkers Saturday in an effort to keep him more focused. He'll also have a new rider in Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux - a two-time Preakness winner very familiar with the Pimlico racing surface. Long odds at 30-1, but he's a hometown horse owned by Kevin Plank's nearby Sagamore Farm.
Nowadays, it's wise not to discard the chances of horses trained by Dale Romans. He won last year's Preakness with Shackleford, and watched as Dullahan finish a strong for third in the Derby two weeks ago. While his top 3-year-old is sitting out the Preakness, he's sending out this gray colt with hopes of pulling off a surprise at 30-1. Earlier in the week, this maiden winner who likes to come from behind worked five furlongs in a fast 58.80 seconds over a muddy track at Churchill Downs, and Romans said, ''He's fresh, and he's going to have to run fast'' on Saturday, especially leaving from the outside No. 11 post. He was fourth in the Arkansas Derby, 9 3/4 lengths behind Bodemeister, in his last start.
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