Most of the eyes watching will be spotlighting I'll Have Another, the surprise winner at the Kentucky Derby to see if he can take the win at Pimlico Racetrack.
The story at the Preakness Stakes is always the same: can we get a Triple Crown threat in place? I'll Have Another captured the roses at Churchill Downs and will now be aiming for the black-eyed susans this Saturday in order to become a Triple Crown candidate. We haven't seen a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did the deed all the way back in 1978 and it tends to render The Belmont -? the final race of the Triple Crown ?- anticlimactic unless the Derby and Preakness winner is the same.
Speaking of the same, it's likely that the race at the Preakness will look very similar to the Kentucky Derby. Bodemeister and I'll Have Another raced down the stretch at Churchill Downs head to head and there's a very good chance we see the same thing on Saturday.
The odds makers seem to agree as the two horses are the favorites with Bodemeister leading the way at 7/4 and I'll Have Another right behind him at 5/2.
2012 Preakness Stakes – Odds to Win
- Tiger Walk: 33/1
- Teeth of the Dog: 15/1
- Pretension: 33/1
- Zetterholm: 22/1
- Went the Day Well: 6/1
- Creative Cause: 7/1
- Bodemeister: 7/4
- Daddy Nose Best: 14/1
- I'll Have Another: 5/2
- Optimizer: 33/1
- Cozetti: 33/1
At the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister zoomed out in front ?- beating lightning-quick frontrunners like Trinniberg to the lead ?- and set a remarkable pace. He actually led virtually the entire way, barely slowing down until the very end. I'll Have Another wasn't running with the leaders but closed down the stretch and barely caught up with Bodemeister just in time to win it.
There are a couple of factors that work in Bodemeister's favor that could really make all the difference at the Preakness. For one, the Preakness is 110 yards shorter than the Kentucky Derby and that's the exact distance that Bodemeister and I'll Have Another ran stride for stride at Churchill Downs.
A shorter track is likely to benefit a pace-setter like Bodemeister a little bit more since he likes to lead the way. Those types of horses can sometimes run out of steam later in the race because of all the energy they're exerting throughout the earlier stages of the race -? just like what happened at the Kentucky Derby.
As for I'll Have Another, he's a closer, which means he runs slower throughout the first three-quarters of the race and saves his burst for the very end. He'll have to hang closer to the front of the pack at the Preakness because he'll have less room to make up ground at the end.
Also, it looks like Bodemeister will have fewer horses to contend with for the early lead, which is also quite important to him. With Trinniberg not racing, it looks like the field is very short on horses that will challenge Bodemeister for the early lead. The Preakness also runs a bit faster than the Kentucky Derby and there's a smaller field, so those factors might also help Bodemeister.
So can anyone stop him from the lead? Maybe an unexpected horse will take one for the team and deny him the lead but that's not going to be a winning strategy for whoever makes that choice. It's hard to see a horse that would consider an early speed duel as a good plan.
More realistically, we'll see Bodemeister leading most of the way at the Preakness with I'll Have Another a couple of lengths back off the pace trying to catch him down the stretch -? along with some other horses.
It should be a great race but don't be surprised if either Bodemeister or I'll Have Another ?- or both -? finish in the money once again.