It sometimes doesn’t seem fair when the winner of the Kentucky Derby is defeated in Baltimore two weeks later by a horse that didn’t even race in the Derby. However, often times there is a repeat, and the first two legs of the Triple Crown are captured yet again, only to break the hearts of millions, 3 weeks later in the Belmont.
The Kentucky Derby is just tough to predict and even good handicapers may rarely cash in winning tickets. A good bet in the Preakness Stakes is to stay on the winner in Kentucky. An even better bet 3 weeks later in the Belmont, is to get off that horse, the Belmont is a heartbreaker, plain and simple. The Belmont is the impossible leg of the Triple Crown, hope for it, but bet against it.
Just three horses from the Kentucky Derby field will start in the Preakness this Saturday, continuing a trend in recent years, with many claiming the two-week period between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes isn’t enough rest for the horses.
The belief that horses need lengthy rest between races has become part of the orthodoxy of the sport. It’s a radical change from the past. In the 1950s and ’60s, good horses often raced with a week’s rest (or less). Now 3-year-olds get their final prep race three, four or five weeks before the Derby, and so the 14-day layoff before the Preakness looks like a daunting challenge.
Why do modern-day thoroughbreds need such gentle handling? The change in training philosophy may have occurred because horses are less robust than their forebears. It may have to do with the almost-universal use of Lasix; the diuretic causes horses to lose significant weight, and they need time to recover from a race. Many leading trainers are believers in the Ragozin Sheets and the Thoro-graph speed figures, both of which espouse the philosophy that horses will “bounce” — i.e., run an inferior race — if they run back too quickly from a peak effort. Five-time Preakness-winning trainer Bob Baffert believes that the Derby’s now-common fields of 20 horses puts so much stress on runners that they need more time to recover than the Preakness allows.
Preakness Stakes updates:Because the trainer of a Derby winner will almost always take a shot at the Triple Crown, the Preakness is one of the few races in which top horses will run with two weeks’ rest. The results at Pimlico contradict the belief that this short layoff is too difficult for the horses.
Kentucky Derby winners regularly come back to deliver smashing performances in Baltimore: Funny Cide (2003) won by nearly 10 lengths, Smarty Jones (2004) won by 11.5 Big Brown (2008) by 5.5. In 2012 I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister finished 1-2 in the Derby, then ran much faster in the Preakness and finished 1-2 again. None of them bounced. When Derby winners have flopped in Baltimore — such as Orb in 2013 and Super Saver in 2010 — the explanation may be that they benefited from perfect trips at Churchill and didn’t get such an easy setup at Pimlico.
Bet on the Kentucky Derby Champion to win the Preakness The paragraph above explains why many bet with a strategy of choosing the Kentucky Derby Champion to win again in the Preakness, which is very similar at in length, the Preakness being just 1/16 of a mile shorter than the Derby. However, if the horse does win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, staying on that horse as it tries for a triple crown is wishful thinking, as it just hasn’t been done since 1978!