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The Preakness preview

It's part two of the American Triple Crown tonight, and the preview comes from regular US racing contributor, Jon da Silva, @creamontop. Is it all about the Pharoah?

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The Preakness
1818 local, 2318 BST
Pimlico


The Preakness has a low profile for 50 weeks of the year. A bit like a Russian athlete's blood test it's the annoying thing you have to get through but don't always manage to for a chance at the prize - The Triple Crown. When I did not follow racing I had heard of the The Kentucky Derby and Secretariat's Belmont but the 2nd leg had less profile than Joey Barton on a list of great footballers.

It's run at Pimlico a place name which conjures images of insufferably twee middle brow gentle British Comedy "Passport to Pimlico" and my mate being banned from The Grenadier on a Pimlico Belgravia pub crawl. However a little like those Ealing comedies after years of shit Rom Coms its true value is revealed. It's run over a bizarre mile and three sixteenths or a Mile and 1.5 furlongs to us in Blighty (or 1900m to anyone from a country not stuck in the dark ages! Ed..). It has a smaller field than The Derby so luck may be less important. Unusually this year the front three from The Derby re-oppose. For me you have more information and every year a potentially overbet favourite if that does not grab you as a punter what does? It also does not suffer from the deflation or over hype of the Belmont dependent on whether there is a Triple Crown alive.

The Pharoah

He beat the best of 'em only two weeks ago so does American Pharoah just have to turn up and win?

He was a decisive Derby winner even able to take a tour round outer Louisville before picking off Firing Line in the final stanza. The new shooters are not on the same level and indeed for angle punters supposed unlucky horse Materiality is not here and best closer Frosted is not either. Won every start easily since beaten on debut. Rain about and he handles the slop like Messalina. 4/5 Coral's Buying money?

As Lee Corso would say "Not so fast my friends"

Dortmund was sick on the Thursday before the Derby and probably would have missed almost any other race. American Pharoah has drawn inside and will face different tactical and kick back problems. It is arguable American Pharoah had not been in a hard race until Kentucky. What looked an easy win was accompanied by a sickening 30 plus cracks of Victor Espinoza's whip. It was his second race in three weeks and now two weeks later he goes for another. Few trainers outside of Mme Barande-Barbe would choose to run a horse in two such quick Championship/Group 1 races over the middle distances.

Drawn 1 American Pharoah
Only thing to add is he proved the best horse in the Kentucky Derby but not so far in front. He will have to change tactics here and could be sent to the lead. I think there is just enough to take him on at 4/6 and the 4/5 Coral is fair price.

2 Dortmund
The big horse and seen as the likely pace but in same stable as the Pharoah so tactics flexible esp as from their draws they may decide to give the inexperienced in terms of kickback favourite the front. Still holds best Beyer figure and may not have been a 100% for Derby. One negative is rain as whilst it's called The Slop on an off track horses gallop right down to the base of a dirt track. Suggestions from local judges appears this will not help the massive beast.

3 Mr Z
Great name no chance. Declining and main fear is he is some sort of spoiler for the pace albeit would not have the early toe of Dortmund and several others.

4 Danzig Moon
Two Hopes Bob and Slim. Slim considering leaving town as he involves a pace collapse and severe regression from other horses. No guarantee even if front three die he benefits either.

5 Tale of Verve
Sadly not a Tale of Verve Clicquot (sic) unless connections like drinking to not being last because another horse broke down or something. Broke its maiden last start at 6th time of asking.

6. Bodhisattva
I once did Zen and chanted something about the Bodhisattva a person of enormous compassion who holds back on Nirvana to help others. Unless Bodhisattva has been holding back to allow others the glory not really a win threat.

7 Divining Rod
New shooter on the upgrade but was not up to Derby standard horses and connections wisely passed. Could benefit from being a closer but has three very tall orders to pass.

8 Firing Line
Beaten twice narrowly by Dortmund and having finally mastered that giant beast ran into American Pharoah in the Derby. It between those romped 14 lengths in the Sunland Derby. Had a six week break before the Derby. Hit the front and been beaten in three races v Dortmund and American Pharoah. In what could be a tactical affair should have the benefit of Gary Stevens who three years ago grabbed the race on Oxbow and led from the 1st call.

Finally

American Pharoah is the most likely to win and to be a superstar. However they are not machines and we don't know how they will react to the demands of consecutive hard races. No horse is trained to win a Triple Crown they are trained for the first weekend in May. My view is to wait and see the track condition if it is sloppy Dortmund is less likely. Brisnet's breeding ratings don't have Firing Line as sloptastic but his pedigree is full of muddy monsters. If we get a dry track I think the bet is between them. At UK prices 5s and 6s take Dortmund. Suspicion is US totes will make Firing Line third fav but that is conjecture. Confidence is tempered as Dortmund is a stablemate of the favourite and that may work for or against. Tune in and make sure track is dry an hour before would be my advice and flip to Firing Line if Sloppy.

1pt Win Dortmund

0.1 Box Ex Dortmund Firing Line


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