Morning line odds: Even
Lifetime starts: 6
Record: 6 wins, 0 seconds, 0
Jockey: Edgar Prado
Trainer: Michael Matz
Pedigree: Dynaformer/La Ville Rouge (Carson City)
Key facts: Figures to be a very short price
off his dominating 6 1/2-length victory in the Kentucky Derby. He got the perfect trip that day, as many of his rivals were
getting their fenders bent in rush-hour traffic, but the ease with which he won is difficult to get over. Bet against him at
your own risk, but youll be well rewarded if youre willing to buck the crowd.
Adam Coglianese / AP
Morning line odds:
: 8Lifetime starts:
2 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirdsEarnings:
A.P. Indy/Cara Rafaela (Quiet American)Key facts:
With just three starts under his girth,
colt is lightly seasoned for a Triple Crown race. But you have to like the way he improved once he was stretched out to
longer route races, and he earned a decent Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in winning the Wither Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on April
29, even though his rider lost his whip in the stretch.
Morning line odds:
: 5Lifetime starts:
6 wins, 0 seconds, 1 thirdEarnings:
Benchmark/Miss Soft Sell (Siyah Kalem)Key facts:
Lots to like about this Cal-bred
colt, beginning with his very impressive race in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fourth despite being caught very wide
on both turns and steadying twice. His natural speed will give veteran rider options as race unfolds and his odds will be
decent, since he finished 9 1/2 lengths behind Barbaro in Louisville. If theres an upsetter in the field, hes
probably the one.
Morning line odds: 30-1
Post position: 9
Lifetime starts: 6
Record: 2 wins, 4 seconds, 1 third
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
Trainer: Steve Klesaris
Owner: Puglisi Stables and Steve
Pedigree: Artax/Bonnie Byerly (Dayjur)
Key facts: Has triumphed only in a maiden race and in a
first-level allowance race at Delaware Park in his most recent start. He hasn't been embarrassed when he's tried stakes
company, though, finishing second to Barbaro last year in the Laurel Futurity -- a stakes race for 2-year-olds run on the
turf – and 2 3/4 lengths behind Kentucky Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat on the dirt at Belmont.
Morning line odds: 20-1
Post position: 4
Lifetime starts: 11
Record: 2 wins, 0 seconds, 2
Trainer: George Weaver
Pedigree: Mr. Greeley/Deceit Princess (Vice Regent)
Key facts: Finished a close-up fourth
behind Like Now, Keyed Entry and Sweetnorthernsaint in the Gotham Stakes (G3), but his two subsequent races against stakes
company – the Wood Memorial and the Lexington Stakes – weren't so good. Wide trip in the latter and wet track in the former
offer some hope a form reversal could be in the offing.
Morning line odds: 30-1
Post position: 3
Lifetime starts: 6
Record: 2 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds
Jockey: Jeremy Rose
Trainer: Nick Zito
Owner: Kinsman Stable
Notebook/Whirls Girl (Island Whirl)
Key facts: Hard to get too excited about a colt that has been trounced
in all four starts this year. On positive side, he encountered trouble in his last two races and Hall of Fame trainer is
trying to shake things up by changing equipment blinkers off -- and switching to rider who won last years
Preakness with Afleet Alex. Also, horses come-from-behind running style may play well in speed-laden field.
Morning line odds: 12-1
Post position: 1
Lifetime starts: 8
Record: 4 wins, 2 seconds, 0 thirds
Jockey: Garrett Gomez
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Pedigree: Jules/Cant Bluff Me (Pine Bluff)
Key facts: Gelding only has one way of going,
and thats to go to the front and try to stay there. But with plenty of speed signed up for the Preakness, hes not
likely to get any breathers in the early running. Trainer wisely passed the Derby to give him more time to get ready for his
toughest assignment to date, though, and he did beat Sweetnorthernsaint in the Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.
Morning line odds: 50-1
Post position: 2
Lifetime starts: 9
Record: 2 wins, 1 second, 2 thirds
Trainer: Joseph Lostritto
Owner: Team Tristar
Pedigree: Tale of the Cat/Ingots Dance Away (Gate Dancer)
Key facts: New York-bred colt
won the restricted $75,000 Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct in December, but has been well beaten in his three stakes tries
since then. His off-the-pace running style is a plus, but he appears to be overmatched in here.
Morning line odds:
3 wins, 0 seconds, 1 thirdEarnings:
Joseph J. Balsamo and Ted
Sweetsouthernsaint/Ice Beauty (Waquoit)Key facts:
Derby favorite ran a much better
race than his seventh-place finish would suggest. He broke a half step slow and immediately found himself at the back of the
pack, then slowly worked his way into contention before tiring late. Dont think anyone was going to beat Barbaro that
day, but gelding could have been much closer in Louisville and shouldnt be ruled out.
The Preakness is a 1 3/16th- mile race 1/16th of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby -- for 3-year-olds run at
Baltimores historic Pimlico Race Course, also known as Old Hilltop. The race is contested over a mile dirt track that
is 70 feet wide -- narrower than most racetracks and generally favors speed. The race begins at the top of the
stretch, which gives jockeys time to move their mounts in to save ground before the first turn. The early fractions of the
Preakness are usually quick, but front-runners and stalkers who race close to the pace have a better chance here than they do
in the Kentucky Derby.
There is no limit on the factors that can be considered in handicapping a race some experts even try to compensate for
the wind when evaluating a previous performance by a horse. But for today, let's confine ourselves to six of the most
Click on factors at left to learn more.
Speed and pace
A handicapper who can correctly predict how a race will be run has a much better chance of winning than the horseplayer with
no idea which horses will go to the front, which will challenge the leaders turning for home and which will attempt to run
down the leaders in the final strides.
The reason, as handicapping pioneer Huey Mahl put it, is that pace makes the
The basic theory of pace handicapping is this: The faster a horse runs at the beginning of a race, the less energy
it will have for the stretch run. As a general rule, a race in which three or more horses battle for the lead will result in
a faster-than-average early pace and set the stage for a come-from-behind horse to win. Conversely, a race in which a lone
horse is allowed to set a comfortable pace tends to favor the front-runner or horses that can stay within a length or two of
The Preakness has a reputation as a race that can be won on the front end, despite the testing 1 3/16th-mile
distance. However, although the race has been won 26 times by a horse that led from gate to wire (or about 20 percent of the
time), only two horses have managed the feat in the past 22 years.
This years horse has only one need-to-lead
horse Like Now but Barbaro, Bernardini, Brother Derek, Diabolical and Sweetnorthernsaint all like to be in the
mix early and a faster than average early pace 1:10 4/5 for 6 furlongs for the last 20 runnings seems likely.
Give a plus in this category to the off-the-pace runners Greeleys Legacy, Hemingways Key and Platinum
Couple and a neutral rating to Barbaro and Brother Derek, all of whom have demonstrated the ability to rate and finish
in their recent races.
When racetrackers talk about a horses class, they are talking about a combination of natural ability, consistency and
heart. Handicappers have tried different approaches to quantify it, such as average earnings per start or the number of
victories in Grade I stakes races, which draw the very best horses.
No matter how you define it, though, history says it
is advisable in the Triple Crown races to favor horses who faced top competition as 2-year-olds, running well in at least one
graded stakes, and who have returned to run credibly in similar situations at 3.
Give a plus in this category to
Brother Derek -- the only true qualifier -- and the slightest deductions to Barbaro, who missed qualifying by one day.
Pedigree analysis has lost a lot of its luster in recent two years, when several horses whose bloodlines said they would
never last 1 1/4 miles nevertheless captured the Derby.
But given the performance of the "dosage" index and "center of
distribution" model over previous decades, its probably wise not to dismiss this line of inquiry just yet.
is why it pays to have at least a passing acquaintance with such arcane terms as "dosage" and "dual qualifier."
Dosage has proven an accurate yardstick for the Kentucky Derby, though the evidence is less compelling for the Preakness.
Doesnt much matter as all the Preakness starters have a dosage index of under 4.00.
-- With everyone getting a
passing grade on dosage, well use Lee Tomlinsons stamina-measuring endurance ratings from the Daily Racing Form
as a tie-breaker, giving negatives to horses that are rated less than 370 and have not shown they can handle the marathon
distances: Greeleys Legacy, Hemingways Key, Like Now and Platinum Couple.
Barbaro would have been
rated suspect in this category if he hadnt proven his ability to go 1 1/4 miles in Louisville. Instead, give him a plus
Form -- shorthand for the way a horse has run in its most recent races -- looks deceptively simple to evaluate, but this
factor contains numerous traps for the handicapper.
Although it's better to enter a big race off several strong efforts,
horses are not machines and there is no guarantee that a contestant's last race will be repeated on race day.
Likewise, horses that have run poorly in their recent races can suddenly rediscover that winning formula (Remember
1991 winner Hansel, who paid more than $20 in the Preakness after finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby as the 5-2 favorite?).
And there's always the dangerous improving horse, who can turn in the race of a lifetime when you least suspect it.
Nonetheless, horses who enter the Preakness off several strong efforts (finishing within 2 lengths of the winner) in
recent races receive high marks in this category: Barbaro, Bernardino, Diabolical and Like Now.
downgrade horses with one good race in their last two starts -- Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint. since both had
brutal trips in the Derby.
The Preakness points a white-hot spotlight on riders, and it can be dazzling to those who never have stood in its glare
before. Being tongue-tied in interviews is one thing, but if a rider's nervousness and excitement makes even the slightest
impact on his or her judgment, the results on the racetrack are likely to be disappointing.
Well give the strongest
push to those horses with riders that have won at least one Preakness, since theyll also have the advantage of knowing
the track: Brother Derek (Alex Solis, 1986), Hemingways Key (Jeremy Rose) and Sweetnorthernsaint (Kent
Give the slightest of deductions to Derby winner Barbaro (Edgar Prado), whose rider has won both the
Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and Diabolical, by virtue of having Maryland kingpin
Ramon Dominguez in the irons.
Negative marks to the rest of the field.
Unlike the jockeys, who will make any mistakes in the blink of an eye, trainers make their errors if any in the
weeks before the race.
Some fine horsemen and horsewomen have been thrown off their game by the unaccustomed scrutiny
they face once it becomes clear that theres a legitimate Derby prospect in the barn. Suddenly, instead of the quiet
thudding of hoofbeats, the trainer is facing a phalanx of microphones and fielding endless questions about everything from
choice of horseshoes to whether that last workout wasnt just a tad bit slow.
The bottom line is that some trainers
will become overly cautious in their preparations, overlooking an important detail or forgetting to pass a key piece of
information to an exercise rider. The result may not be disastrous, but even the slightest misstep can be enough to get your
Only one trainer with a horse in this years race has won the Preakness, Nick Zito (Hemingways
Give a slightly less enthusiastic push to trainer Michael Matz (Barbaro) for his win in the Kentucky Derby.
others draw a negative in this category.