Preakness Stakes Fields Usually Shrinks

The Preakness Stakes fields usually shrinks because the cards are now on the table. Connections have to weigh what is good for the horse against any money that can be had on the Triple Crown Trail.

As impressive as Always Dreaming was in the Kentucky Derby, there were a lot of question marks about him and basically all of the other Derby contenders.

The home of the Preakness is Pimlico located in Baltimore, Maryland and it’s not only racing fans that are pumped up in the Maryland area.

The Washington Wizards, who are battling to go on and continue in the NBA playoffs, were originally called the Baltimore Bullets and there have been many in Preakness Stakes fields over the decades that looked like they were shot out of a canon. The brilliant Bold Ruler was a blur in the 1957 Preakness. The eventual legendary sire Northern Dancer exploded for his Preakness victory in 1964. Arguably the greatest horse ever to look through a bridal, Spectacular Bid, sizzled in the Preakness before stepping on a safety pin before the Belmont Stakes.

Last year was a perfect example of why Preakness Stakes fields shrink. In 2016 Nyquist was the Kentucky Derby hero and went off the odds-on favorite in the Preakness but he was wide and was lugging in and had to settle for third. The Doug O’Neill student never won another race.

The Kentucky Derby second in 2016 Exaggerator overcame a bit of history last year when he won the Preakness. Before his historic victory in the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown, he had run second to Nyquist at Churchill Downs. He was doing something that had not been accomplished for years with his Pimlico success.

The last Derby second finisher to win the Preakness was Prairie Bayou way back in 1993. The last show horse to win the Preakness was Curlin in 2007. And the rare Derby trifecta that repeated in the Preakness happened before the cell phone was the rage. That is what occurred in 1978 when Affirmed, Alydar and Believe It clicked right back in that order in Baltimore after the same result in the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of the side stories and the naysayers about this year’s Preakness Stakes fields quality components, there are a few trends that have occurred over the decades. Players should be made aware of those trends to take advantage of any situation.

There are no guarantees that what happened in the past, will happen this year, but knowing the history and the why of the history is a good start to getting a grip on this classic race.

Skipping the Kentucky Derby and going right into the Preakness has not been a great angle over the years. Starting in 1970, only seven runners were able to pull off that feat.

Bee Bee Bee did it in 1972 and three runners did it in the 1980s. Red Bullet won the 2000 running after skipping the party at Churchill and in 2009 Rachel Alexandra cashed in the Preakness after passing on Derby glory.

Runners style in the last several years has been a mixed bag of results. In 2008 Gayego had the lead at the half but folded his cards to finish 11th.

The next year Rachel Alexandra just kept going to victory after leading at the half. In 2010 First Dude ran well when leading at the half but had to settle for second. In 2011 Flashpoint flashed to the lead at the half but needed a taxi cab home when finishing 14th.

In 2012, I’ll Have Another was fourth at the half but he powered home to get up by a neck with a 109 Beyer.

In 2013 Oxbow, after finishing sixth in the Derby, took his Preakness rivals wire-to-wire. Three years ago, California Chrome was a close-up third before winning the 2nd Jewel. Last year, Exaggerator was third to last early, made a great middle move to lead into the stretch and then drew off to win by three and a half lengths.

Drawing the rail has not been the place to be over the years in the Preakness. Last year Cherry Wine was coming off about a 6-week layoff but did finish second in the Preakness after breaking from the rail. He was 17-1.

Royal Mo is expected to be one of the new faces in the Preakness. He is a West Coast-based runner and that has been a good angle of late. Since 1989, seven West Coast-based runners have handled Preakness Stakes fields. Sunday Silence did in 1989. Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Charismatic won the Preakness in consecutive years starting in 1997 and they were all based in California. Two of the last three Preakness winners also called California home.

Bettors could do much worse than following favorites in the Preakness Stakes. Favorites have won about 50% of the time in this race. Horses that are odds-on in the Preakness are 18 for 29.

Because Preakness Stakes fields shrink, there have not been a ton of huge-priced longshots over the years. There have only been seven horses that have won the Preakness at 15-1 since 1900.

Just because Preakness Stakes fields shrink, that doesn’t mean there cannot be problems along the way. Granted, there will likely be about half the number of horses in the Preakness that competed in the Kentucky Derby but there have been bad trips in this race.

Consider last year and the trip that Cherry Wine had when running second. The Dale Romans student hit his head on the right side of the gate when stumbling at the start. He had to drop back and only had Japanese-based runner Lani beaten early on. C.J. Lanerie, who was aloft Cherry Wine, got the horse to settle and rally.

The third choice in the Preakness last year Stradivari also has his problems. The runner broke inward and brushed 58-1 Fellowship and then just was rank and never got comfortable.

Lani also felt the wrath of the ‘trip gods’ in the Preakness last year. The runner was coming off a ninth in the Kentucky Derby and he bobbled at the break in Baltimore. He started to make a run, was steadied off of heels, started to lug in and still managed to run fifth. He was also seven lengths clear of his nearest rival.

Bettors have to avoid getting into the trap of following the hype and approach the Preakness with an eye toward how the race will unfold.

About Brian Mulligan

I have been lucky enough to be a public horseracing handicapper for nearly 4 decades and I know how fortunate I am to do something I truly love. Hopefully, we can cash a lot of tickets and progress on this mission known as cashing tickets. Brian Mulligan

About Brian Mulligan

I have been lucky enough to be a public horseracing handicapper for nearly 4 decades and I know how fortunate I am to do something I truly love. Hopefully, we can cash a lot of tickets and progress on this mission known as cashing tickets. Brian Mulligan

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