Derby Prep Alert
Derby Prep Alert

May 15, 2015Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

We hope you had a great Preakness day! We’ll be back for Belmont Stakes day, until then here are the post-race updates on the contenders.

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News About the Contenders

Thursday New
DRF: American Pharoah returns to track for first time since Preakness romp

DRF: Mubtaahij will NOT race on Lasix in the Belmont
DRF: Mike Smith to ride Frammento in Belmont
DRF: Mubtaahij blows out swiftly on the dirt
DRF: American Pharoah to Ashford upon retirement

Blood-Horse: Haskin’s Preakness Recap: Pharoah Glow Brightens the Day
Blood-Horse: Meet the Belmont Stakes Contenders
Brisnet: American Pharoah returns to Churchill Downs; Belmont field takes shape
Brisnet: American Pharoah ‘a little tired…looks good’ day after Preakness romp
Brisnet: Tale of Verve headed to Belmont, Divining Rod not after Preakness placings
Brisnet: Casse: Danzig Moon ‘had half the race track in his throat’
Brisnet: Pletcher happy to have skipped Preakness; Mubtaahij works bullet for Belmont
DRF: Debate over whether horse “worthy” of Triple Crown is flawed, IMO. Here’s why
DRF: American Pharoah would defeat most rivals in history sweeping TC. Here are the stats
DRF: Belmont, like Spinal Tap, goes to 11; Conquest Curlinate to be supplemented
DRF: War Story to run in Belmont and owner says his horse will be on the lead
DRF: Early Belmont field numbers 11…and here they are
DRF: Tale of Verve arrives at Belmont

Blood-Horse: Preakness Race Sequence (interactive)
Blood-Horse: Pletcher Has Trio Likely for Belmont Bid
Blood-Horse: Mubtaahij Earns Bullet in Belmont Breeze
Blood-Horse: Tale of Verve to Belmont, ‘Moon’ to Canada
Blood-Horse: ‘Pharoah’ in Good Health, Headed to Churchill
Blood-Horse: Post Preakness Contender Update (video)
DRF: Analysis of Preakness: American Pharoah’s pace very fast considering track condition
DRF: American Pharoah will be only horse to run in all 3 legs of Triple Crown this year
DRF: Baffert on the Belmont: “If he runs that race again, he’ll be hard to beat”
DRF: Selected quotes from Baffert from this morning
Preakness Official: News and Quotes
The Racing Biz: Preakness Call by Call in Pictures

Brisnet: Zayat enjoying Preakness ride with American Pharoah
DRF: Stewart finishes second with another longshot in a Triple Crown race
DRF: Waiting at Belmont for Pharoah will be . . .
DRF: American Pharoah will have chance at Triple Crown
DRF: Dortmund will wear a shadow roll in Preakness

Blood-Horse: Mr. Z Bought by Calumet, Entered in Preakness
Brisnet: Firing Line entering Preakness ‘as well as he was going into the Derby’
Brisnet: Derby top three all raring to go in Preakness
Brisnet: Lukas: Mr. Z coming into Preakness ‘same way Oxbow did’
Brisnet: McCarthy celebrates 21st birthday with first Preakness ride on Bodhisattva
Brisnet: Materiality out of Preakness
Brisnet: American Pharoah, Dortmund continue to receive positive reviews
Brisnet: Preakness contenders gallop at Churchill
Brisnet: Mubtaahij gets back to work; Frosted possible for Belmont
Brisnet: Zetcher ‘very proud’ of Firing Line
DRF: Frosted works toward possible Belmont Stakes start
DRF: Handicapping the Preakness weather
DRF: Images from Preakness contenders by Barbara Livingston
DRF: Divining Rod a bit hot Friday morning, just like usual
DRF: Danzig Moon and the rest
DRF: Derby top three gallop well
DRF: Another good morning for the Baffert boys
DRF: Firing Line ready to, well, fire
DRF: Tale of Verve on the muscle
DRF: Divining Rod
DRF: Easy gallop for Divining Rod
DRF: American Pharoah, Dortmund full of energy
DRF: Danzig Moon continues to thrive
DRF: Firing Line looks and handles well
DRF: Stevens giddy over Preakness draw
DRF: Baffert admits draw not ideal
DRF: Post 1, American Pharoah’s draw, historically poor in Pimlico races at Preakness distance
DRF: Firing Line draws best in Preakness
DRF: American Pharoah, Dortmund have another good a.m. at Churchill
DRF: Preakness: Javier Castellano to ride Divining Rod

Preakness Stakes
Pimlico, Saturday May 16, post time: 6:18 ET
1 3/16 miles (9.5 furlongs)

The prep races leading to this year’s Kentucky Derby were ultra formful, with more than half won by the favorite. The form of this year’s top 3-year-olds held true in the Kentucky Derby, too, as American Pharoah got the job done as the post time betting favorite. That is no easy feat, but the hype that continues to surround the 2-year-old champion is often hard to outrun on the track. Even his jockey, Victor Espinoza, could be heard on the Derby telecast right after the race saying to an outrider that it wasn’t “easy,” and this could be witnessed in the stretch drive where the jockey had to really get after American Pharoah with the whip to finish well.

The question before the Derby was: Who is the real American Pharoah? He had obviously displayed talent in two starts this year, but the competition was not exactly up to the level his peers in the Derby had been running against, and the question was how well he’d fare against the likes of Dortmund and Firing Line, two race-tested foes. American Pharoah proved to be a gritty type who was able to sit a stalking, wide trip and wear down those foes late. It was a workman-like victory for a horse many expected to display brilliance. As is the case so many times in horse racing, a race does not always provide an answer for the question about how good a horse really is. American Pharoah won the Derby and that should be more than good enough and thoughts of “breathing different air” than his contemporaries doesn’t mean much so long as running well continues. If he wins, it doesn’t matter.

Despite drawing poorly in post one, American Pharoah has a lot going for him in the Preakness. Winners of the Derby usually keep their Derby winning form off the short two weeks’ rest. The trio of of new faces who show up here seem relatively unimposing as threats. While American Pharoah’s victory in the Derby was hard fought, it was also decisive in that Firing Line and Dortmund, both running back in the Preakness, had no real excuses in finishing behind American Pharoah. The only question here in the Preakness is trip.

Once again, on paper there is plenty of early speed and now it’s all to American Pharoah’s outside, whereas all the speed in the Derby was to his inside, which is ideal for stalking trips. At 4-5 on the morning line and making this third start in five weeks, he’s certainly not the type of betting proposition that is exciting.

Dortmund is back from his pace-setting third-place finish in the Derby. The previously undefeated colt didn’t have the late response for Firing Line and American Pharoah when they met at the top of the stretch, and this was after a carefree, but honest, trip on the front end. Just a glance at his past performance lines suggests a horse with a ton of early, natural speed that perhaps ran against the limit of the demanding distance of 10 furlongs in the Derby, so the slight drop in distance can only help him here. Still, his biggest asset is his early speed, and should Mr. Z or new face Divining Rod challenge him early, he might deploy that early speed that in the past has resulted in him running would-be early pace challengers off their feet. The only issue is the distance, as the Derby exposed him a bit as horse who perhaps doesn’t want to run this far. Those who are willing to give Dortmund a second chance should get a fair price considering the expected betting interest that American Pharoah will take.

Firing Line ran second all the way around the track in the Derby, disposing of Dortmund at the top of the stretch but unable to hold off American Pharoah late. This hard-trying colt has never run a bad race but only has two wins to show for it from six starts, and those two races are races where he didn’t have to run against American Pharoah and Dortmund. He’s drawn ideally to the outside for the type of running he likes, which is stalking the pace, and like Dortmund, he should benefit from drop in distance. For a race that is shaping up to be a chess game with any number of early pace scenarios developing, there’s a lot to like in Firing Line in this spot. His jockey Gary Stevens can see what develops to his inside and Firing Line is a proven stalker. If there’s ever a time to get the better of Dortmund and American Pharoah, this is it.

New face Divining Rod had enough points to get into the Derby, but his connections opted for this spot. He has really come into his own as a 3-year-old, having surprised in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay, almost pulling off a 28-1 shocker when falling short a neck after having gotten loose on the lead. He then ran a no-threat third to Carpe Diem in the Tampa Bay Derby before decisively taking the Lexington at Keeneland last month. He’s obviously stepping up in class here against the best of the division. The real question is the effect he will have on the early pace as he has some early foot. While he would need to improve significantly to be a factor late, he’s the type who could make things uncomfortable for the probable pacesetters in Dortmund or American Pharoah.

Danzig Moon and Mr. Z are two horses that come out of the Derby with trouble lines. Danzig Moon caught some bumping when jostling for position early in the Derby, and while it probably didn’t cost him as far as placing in the end, he still ran on for a decent fifth-place finish. He has improved with each start this year, but only has the maiden score to show for it. With only seven other foes, he should get a clear run late, but the question is whether he can still take another step forward, because he will need to in order to win this; he has the look of a horse that might be best used underneath in exotics.

Like Danzig Moon, Mr. Z only has a maiden win, but he’s well raced, having now run in 12 stakes races in a row. Draw a line through the Derby effort when he encountered real trouble early, having to steady repeatedly, and that was pretty much that for his Derby. The interesting question here surrounding Mr. Z is the change in ownership. Calumet Farm acquired him this week, and the change in ownership is significant because the previous owner, Zayat Stables, also owns American Pharoah. So perhaps here in the Preakness there will be concerted effort to send Mr. Z to the early lead, and that further complicates an already cloudy early pace picture. Mr. Z is a known entity on the track at this point, and on his best day, he can run with the likes of American Pharoah, Dortmund and Firing Line. On any day other than his best, he’s likely an also-ran. There are some things to like about Mr. Z’s morning line price of 20-1.

Tale of Verve and Bodhisattva round out the field and either one of them would be a complete shocker if he won. Tale of Verve just broke his maiden last out and appears way over his head, but he does have a couple of things that are appealing for longshot players. That maiden-breaking win came at today’s distance last out at Keeneland, and he’s a deep closer in a race with some early speed. Bodhisattva won the Federico Tesio last out, which is the local prep race for the Preakness. He’s shown a variety of running styles in winning three from 11 races, and his last three have seen him become more involved early. This is not an asset against this kind of quality, and he would need to improve quite a bit to compete early against the group assembled here.

Chris Rossi

2015 Preakness Chart

2015 Preakness Replay

2015 Preakness Recaps
Blood-Horse: American Pharoah Romps in Preakness Stakes
Brisnet: American Pharoah sails to sloppy Preakness score
DRF: American Pharoah impresses in Preakness
DRF: American Pharoah wins Preakness on front end, eyes Triple Crown