By Kevin Martin
The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be contested at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday. Six colts who ran in the Kentucky Derby will return for the Preakness, including the top two finishers, I'll Have Another and Bodemeister. Also returning are the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Went the Day Well and Creative Cause, as well as also-rans Daddy Nose Best and Optimizer. The remainder of the field will be made up of unproven colts and minor stakes winners that would be a shock should they come anywhere near a winner's circle on Saturday.
In recent years, the Preakness has been the most predictable of the Triple Crown races, with only three winners since 2000 paying more than $10 for a $2 win bet. During that same period the Kentucky Derby has had 11 win payouts over $10 and the Belmont Stakes has had nine. Another thing to consider is that colts that compete in the Derby tend to win the Preakness. Since 1997, only three Preakness winners did not run in the Derby. If the trends hold, the winner of this year's Preakness will be one of the six that ran in the Derby, and will go off at odds of less than 4-to-1.
Here is a closer look at the 11 who will line up for the 2012 Preakness Stakes:
Morning Line Odds: 8-5
While I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby, more attention is being paid to second place finisher Bodemeister. In fact, Bodemeister was made the morning line favorite in this year's Preakness. From a pace perspective, he ran one of the most impressive Kentucky Derbys in history. He set a blistering pace and only lost by a length-and-a-half. In perusing the past performances of the field for the Preakness, there are no other colts with early speed, so Bodemeister should have an easier time of it on the lead. This anticipated pace scenario makes him the one to beat when the gates open on Saturday.
I'll Have Another
Morning Line Odds: 5-2
I'll Have Another, the second choice on the morning line, has been perfect in 2012 and enters the Preakness as the only one with a shot at sweeping the Triple Crown. He shipped to Pimlico soon after his Derby win, and reports from the scene say he has trained brilliantly over the track. In looking at his past performances, he has the ability to press a fast pace, so watch for him to run close to pacesetter Bodemeister from the start. The question is: Will he have what it takes to make the lead if Bodemesiter is able to set a more reasonable pace in the Preakness?
Went the Day Well
Morning Line Odds: 6-1
While Bodemeister has received all the attention for his valiant but losing effort in the Derby, Went the Day Well also ran a tremendous race to finish fourth. In only his fifth career start, he ran into trouble early in the race and around the first turn. Jockey John Velazquez had to check twice and literally pull back on the reins when other horses cut into his path. He was eighteen lengths from the leaders with only three beaten when they turned into the backstretch. Just a few hundred yards from the finish, he was moving as fast as any horse in the field, and ended up only two-and-a-half lengths away from the winner in the end. He will get a better trip in the Preakness and could be in a prime position to make a winning move in the stretch.
Morning Line Odds: 6-1
The California-based Creative Cause is as game a racehorse as any among this year's 3-year-olds. He showed his class in the Derby, making it to third in the deep stretch before being passed by Went the Day Well and Dullahan. He finished fifth, just three lengths behind the winner. He will run well in the Preakness, as he always does, but it's hard to figure him turning the tables on the three that finished in front of him in the Derby.
Teeth of the Dog
Morning Line: 15-1
Teeth of the Dog is the lone entry that did not run in the Derby that has a chance to fill out the bottom of trifecta and superfecta tickets. He made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, where he finished third at odds of 53-to-1. He comes into this race as a mystery, but his trainer Michael Matz has no reason to embarrass himself with an entry in the Preakness that can't run.
Daddy Nose Best
Morning line: 12-1
After emerging as many racing pundit's longshot pick leading up to the Kentucky Derby, he ran mid-pack throughout and finished a disappointing 10th. Should he revert to the form he flashed in winning the Sunland Derby in March, he has a chance to fill out the bottom of exotic tickets, but he seems a step below the top contenders.
Morning Line: 20-1
Zetterholm has won three-of-five career races, but all of his wins have come in races restricted to horses bred in New York. The Preakness is a monumental jump in class, and it's hard to comprehend him being competitive against the following 30-1 odds horses: Optimizer, Cozzetti, Tiger Walk and Pretension. The four colts listed on the morning line at 30-1 are all deserving longshots in this year's field of 11.
Betting the 2012 Preakness
Knowing the lack of early speed in the race, watch for jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard I'll Have Another to run close behind Bodemeister from the start. With those two clocking what is sure to be a swift pace on the front end, look for Went the Day Well to put himself in a stalking position behind the leaders and make a big move to run by them both in the stretch. Creative Cause is the pick to round out the bottom of the superfecta, but it might be worthwhile to play some exotic tickets with Teeth of the Dog as well.
1) Went the Day Well
2) I'll Have Another
4) Creative Cause
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