One down, two to go.
Seven of the last 13 Kentucky Derby winners sipped from the Preakness cup, only to be denied their place in history in the Belmont Stakes.
Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Big Brown all got the first two but couldn't seal the deal.
After his fluky Derby win last year, nobody gave Mine That Bird much of a chance to chase down history. He ran his eyeballs out in the Preakness, but in the end he was grounded by a filly named Rachel, who would later be crowned Horse of the Year, and his Derby partner, a jockey named Calvin.
Super Saver is next in line. He's a nice horse, but is he special?
Sure, Super Saver got a perfect setup in the Kentucky Derby, but he won with something in reserve, and after a late start to his sophomore campaign, he's just now peaking. You've got to love that he posted a published work between starts, and it's quite possible he may find himself on a loose and lonely lead.
The main threat
If they could rename Lookin at Lucky, they may have to call him "Somewhat Unfortunate." Crowned as an Eclipse Award winner following four graded-stakes wins as a 2-year-old, questions swirled around him early this spring, but he calmed any fears with a resilient score in the G2 Rebel at Oaklawn. He endured a horrible trip in the G1 Santa Anita Derby but gutted out a third place finish.
Installed as the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby despite drawing the far less than ideal rail post, he got bounced around early and later rallied to finish a belated fifth.
Hoping for a spark of good fortune, the connections have replaced world-class jock Garrett Gomez with the up-and-coming Martin Garcia, and perhaps as a sign of positive kismet, they drew "lucky" post position No. 7 for the Preakness.
The super sleeper
First Dude lost a narrow maiden decision at the hooves of Fly Down earlier this winter at Gulfstream, and that Nick Zito charge returned to score a visually impressive win in last week's G2 Dwyer.
Following an impressive maiden tally of his own, the "Dude" endured a trouble-filled trip in the Florida Derby. He stalked fast pace, was bounced around at the top stretch, lost momentum, came again late and galloped out well.
In the Blue Grass he sat the pocket and and grinded home third best. He's trained lights out leading up to this and should be in line for a clear, pressing trip in a Preakness that appears to lack early pace.
The only gelding in this year's Preakness field, "scar face" Caracortado has already far exceeded expectations. A California-bred with obscure bloodlines, he rattled off 5 consecutive victories to begin his career, including a score in the G2 Lewis at Santa Anita, a race in which he would defeat eventual G3 Illinois Derby thief American Lion.
Third to Sidney's Candy in the G2 San Felipe, he would return to finish a troubled fourth behind that rival in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. He returns as a fresh horse for the Preakness but needs to prove he can be effective on dirt. He broke his maiden on dirt in his career debut, but that win came against $40K claimers over 41/2 furlongs at Fairplex. This is a much different ballgame.
Paddy O'Prado's chances improved on Kentucky Derby Day when the track came up sloppy and he ran a big race to finish third. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said he stepped in a hole or he may have won, and that he hand-rode the colt late because he didn't like the whip. That may have cost him the place spot to Ice Box. He's yet to prove he can handle a fast dirt track with success, and may be a play against as the likely third choice.
Back half of gimmicks
What you see is what you get with Dublin. Following some early traffic troubles, he closed belatedly to finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He's consistent but has yet to show the grit needed to win a race of this caliber. Fired off of Lookin at Lucky, Garrett Gomez will get his first crack aboard him today.
Schoolyard Dreams is well rested, and he's trained lights out in recent weeks.
Aikenite ran really well in the G3 Derby Trial, but the mud may have had something to do with it. Either way, he's capable of clunking up for a share, as is Pleasant Prince.
Can't see how
He gives it all he's got, but Jackson Bend may be over the top. Ywanna Twist proved to be no match for the very average American Lion in the G3 Illinois Derby, and Northern Giant got spanked in the G1 Arkansas Derby.