Jockey Luis Saez and Todd Pletcher team to bring Unbridled Honor to the Preakness. See why J.N. Campbell thinks they can win against Baffert's pair.
Preakness Weekend is finally upon us, and the run-up had its share of drama. Bob Baffert and his Kentucky Derby Champion, Medina Spirit, became the focal point. His hubris, mismanagement, and outright audacity taxed the sport in a way that has yet to be realized or understood. Now, as the scene shifts to the home of the Maryland Jockey Club at Pimlico, its oldest signature race takes center stage.
A Super Saturday arrives after what amounted to a rousing edition of Black-Eyed Susan Day. For the Preakness card, a full listing of contests appears on tap, and we at HorseRacing.net/us, have you covered with a bevy of selections, and our focused analysis. Both our turf-man and our in-house handicapper are on hand to offer their “expert” opinions. Stay tuned …
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Has there been a Preakness Stakes edition that has built such antipathy and anticipation as this one? I am not sure … what I do know, is that even though Bob Baffert is not in the building, he will figure prominently in all of the discussions when it comes to both handicapping and his conditioning choices. In the opinion of this turfwriter, he should have scratched Medina Spirit after he bungled from start to finish this situation concerning betamethasone. The “Face” of the North American Thoroughbred World should have known better, and admitted as much.
As for the race, and this has nothing to do with my opinions about the HOF trainer from SoCal, I am decidedly against his pair of entries, Medina Spirit #3 and Concert Tour #10. I have made no bones throughout the season that I was against them, and I will not join the bandwagon now.
Both look vulnerable for different reasons. The former got a Derby dream trip after Essential Quality was caught ever-so wide around both turns. That shaved the pace scenario down to favor one horse, Johnny V’s mount. He will not get that benefit again, as there are some newcomers in here that have their shoes laced up tight.
As for the “other” Baffert bomber, he did just that at Oaklawn in the Arkansas Derby (G1) last time. Sitting the bench will not help, and he proved that his stamina was a major question at 1 1/8th. If he cannot get that distance, how will he be able to keep up here?
Other race routers look much more inviting at prices that will be double digits. I particular think that Todd Pletcher’s Unbridled Honor #8 is primed for a major victory. The Whisper Farm homebred was pretty game against eventual winner King Fury in the Lexington S. (G3) at Keeneland last time. Even though he did not get up in time, he showed some solid energy along the rail. The speed fig movement was noticeable, and Pletcher clearly thinks he is ready for some tougher company. Luis Saez will ride this son of Honor Code for the first time, and that is a magnificent choice considering the circumstances. He is the author of some wonderful performances, and he could make the difference here.
Others to ponder include the pair of Klaravich Stables entries from the barn of Chad Brown. Do not think that Crowded Trade #4 or Risk Taking #9 do not have what it takes since they are shipping in from Aqueduct. Both have ability to get this distance, and they could wreak havoc on this board in the end. Klaravich did this before in the Preakness, and the Klarmans consider Maryland their Maryland. Javier Castellano’s only Triple Crown win came aboard the Brown-trained and Klarman-owned Cloud Computing!
Lastly, I want to mention the mettle displayed by Winchell T-Breds’ Midnight Bourbon #5 from Steve Asmussen’s outfit, and Robertino Diodoro’s Keepmeinmind #2 throughout the early stages of the Pre-Triple Trail. The former ran better than most would care to admit in the Louisiana Series, and he experienced what most do in the Derby, a troubled trip. As for the latter, Diodoro can now be considered more than just a “claiming trainer” because he has graduated to the elite ranks above. His son of Laoban was pretty sharp down the Derby Lane, and do not think for a minute that he could not contest the Preakness late. Both of these are very good runners, if they can get the right trip.
Will the Baffert duo fail to impress after a week of trouble for the industry and beyond … let’s find out!
Top Selection: Unbridled Honor #8
Creative Wager: $2 Double, R12 (#3/5) w R13 (#2/4/5/8/9)
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