Preakness Prognostications

Bloged in Preakness Stakes by admin Saturday May 19, 2007

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War Admiral was not the only casualty of the 1938 Pimlico
Special, which became the famous match race immortalized
in the movie ‘Seabiscuit.’ The Pimilico infield’s slight
promontory, known as Old Hilltop, on which hundreds of
thousands trainers and racing fans had stood through 67
years of racing was leveled in April of 1938, so that it
would not obstruct the film cameras which recorded that
great race.

 The Old Hilltop might be gone, but its name remains, as do
the horses, trainers, fans, and cameras. They’ll all be at
Pimlico for the Preakness and a chance to witness Street
Sense duplicating what War Admiral did seventy years ago
in following his Kentucky Derby win with a Preakness Day
victory on his way to the 1937 Triple Crown.

 Of interest is that War Admiral had to beat nineteen other
horse win the Kentucky Derby, as did Street Sense, and had
to beat seven other horses to win the Preakness, while
Street Sense will have to beat eight. In one sense, the
Preakness is a much fairer test of ablility than the
Kentucky Derby, because for all its history, it’s never
been the glamour event that the ‘Run for the Roses’ is, and
does not attract horses simply because their owners like
the idea of photo opps.

 The horse voted by The Bloodhorse as the greatest of the
20th century, in fact, Man o’ War, did not even contest
the Kentucky Derby, because his owner Samuel P. Riddle
didn’t t feel it was in the colt’s best interests to run a
mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May. Man o’
War went on to win the Preakness and Belmont, sire War
Admiral, and also sire Hard Tack, who in turn sired
Seabiscuit. In the 1937 Preakness, in fact, three of the
eight horses entered were sons of Man o’ War.

  Does any of this history tell us a thing about which horse
is likely to his owner’s colors painted on the Pimlico
weather vane as late Saturday afternoon? Not really.
Street Sense loves the Churchill Downs track and no one
knows if he will like Pimlico. He also loves the rail;
there are likely to be seven riders seeing that he does
not get it. He will be starting from the outside post, so
they may not have to work too hard to see that he stays
outside.

 On the other hand, Hard Spun, who set all the fractions
except the most important one in the Kentucky derby, is
likely to have company on the lead from King of the Roxy,
who did not race at Churchill Downs but has a sprinter’s
pedigree and could not hold off Tiago in the stretch of
the Santa Anita Derby.

 D. Wayne Lukas, who has trained five Preakness winners,
four more than the other seven trainers combined, has
Flying First Class in after he won the Derby Trial Stakes
three weeks ago. But Curlin, who finished third in the
Derby, had earlier trounced Flying First Class both in the
Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

 And Curlin, who had a less than lucky trip in the Kentucky
Derby, was one of the few horses accelerating at the end.
He is still the greenest horse in the Preakness field, but
will not have nearly the traffic to contend with and in
the first three races of his life, which all had fields of
ten or less, simply annihilated his competition.

 I did some pedigree checking, and Street Sense traces back
to Man o’ War through his dam Bedazzle, while Curlin
traces back to War Admiral and Man o’ War through his dam
Sheriff’s Deputy.

 For no other reasons than that Curlin has a physique
resembling Man o’ War’s, and I think he learned a few
things in the Derby, I am picking him for the Preakness.
I would be very happy, however, to see Street Sense win,
and as always, just hope the contestants make it safely
around the track and back to their barns.

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