Tom Keyser's comments
He was a highly regarded Kentucky Derby contender until finishing fifth in the Santa Anita Derby. He encountered much trouble in that race, and then he was excluded from the Derby because of insufficient earnings. He's ready now, and he could light up the board with a late charge against tiring front-runners.
What else can be said about this Cinderella horse? Longtime local horsewoman Nancy Alberts bought his crooked-leg dam for $1, nurtured her, raced her and then bred her to local sire Ameri Valay. Alberts never even dreamed of running in the Preakness. Winning would put her over the moon.
Nick Zito brings his horses early to Pimlico every year for the Preakness, and for that he deserves thanks and a good turn with one or both of his entrants. This son of Go for Gin will need to run his career best, as his two attempts in stakes resulted in fourth- and fifth-place finishes.
Zito's second entrant would benefit from a sizzling pace, which is a distinct possibility. He closed stoutly in the Lexington Stakes for second on Keeneland's speed-favoring surface. That's his claim to fame, although he could improve. He's lightly raced, a May foal and teams with McCarron.
After his fourth-place finish in the Derby, his trainer, Bob Baffert proclaimed that he would win the Preakness. He just might. He's placed perfectly to control the race and has the speed and jockey to do it. Before the Derby, Baffert said that Medaglia d'Oro, not War Emblem, might win the Triple Crown.
Beaten Derby favorites often fare well in the Preakness. Since 1986 five have rebounded from subpar Derby performances and captured the Preakness. He looks sensational, and his trainer's instructions to Prado will be to let the colt use his natural speed and secure favorable position.
He looked like a winner in the Louisiana Derby until the photo came out; he lost by a nose to Repent. He got into lots of trouble in the Lexington Stakes. His trainer knows how to prepare a horse. He fits into that category of horses who will be a price and might hit the board with racing luck.
He won the Kentucky Derby loose on a comfortable lead. If nobody challenges early, he will probably win the Preakness the same way. He's a smooth-running, cruising, fast horse. If he's challenged early and still draws off to win, he'll be a worthy Triple Crown candidate.
Lukas swears he's not a rabbit. He says he's in here prepping for the Belmont. You can never count a Lukas horse out in a Triple Crown race, but this seems a tough assignment for a colt's first stakes try. He broke his maiden by four lengths and won an allowance by eight.
What's he going to do? Battle early with War Emblem and compromise both their chances? Or will Pat Day try to throttle him down and conserve energy for the final quarter-mile? The former seems most likely, as that's Booklet's style, and even five weeks off with Ward can't change that.
He seems more likely for last than first. He has raced only four times, twice in stakes restricted to California-breds, and he didn't win either. Pino will be his fourth jockey. This is Pino's second Preakness in a long, successful career in Maryland. A top-three finish is a long shot.
He finished second in the Derby at 23-1. That was his third start of 2002 after undergoing surgery for removal of a bone spur in his knee. He might be even better in his fourth. If you've waved an American flag lately, this might be your hunch play: Proud Citizen, his dam is Drums Of Freedom.
The post won't help, but this is a good horse. There's no telling how good; he hasn't raced against the best competition. He has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles, and that won't help, either. He is one of two gray horses in the race. USS Tinosa is the other. A January foal, he is the race elder.