OK, so it's not "Get Your Preak On", but a throw back slogan to my younger days when I was a grandstand denizen and ticket puncher at Old Hilltop. A ghost of Preaknesses past. Still, I like the new slogan and the effort being made to energize the second jewel of the Triple Crown and inject some youthful exuberance.
It's no secret that I want to win the Preakness someday. The other two jewels would be nice, but if I could only choose one, I'd want the Woodlawn Vase - probably because I spent so much time there a lifetime ago and where I kindled my love of the game. Obviously I don't have a horse in the race this year (you wouldn't hear the end of it if I did!) but I also don't have a black cloud over my head when it comes to picking a Preakness winner.
While there are several nice newcomers to the Trail this weekend, I see myself going very chalky in this one.
1. Aikinite (Pletcher/Castellano) - Hasn't won since first out back in August. Some nice efforts including a wide second in the Derby Trial last out, but probably a step below these - especially over a dry track.
2. Schoolyard Dreams (Ryan/Coa) - After a heart pounding finish and loss by the slimmest of noses in the Tampa Bay Derby, he put in a Derby dream ending flat as a pancake Wood.
3. Pleasant Prince (Ward/Leparoux) - The stand out effort in the Florida Derby appears to have been an anomaly.
4. Northern Giant (Lukas/Thompson) - Best bid was over the synthetic. Another still eligible for a NW2 allowance.
5. Yawanna Twist (Dutrow/Prado) - Interesting runner up in the Gotham and Illinois with four solid efforts lifetime but certainly not flattered by the company he kept in either.
6. Jackson Bend (Zito/Smith) - Though steadied early in the Derby, he never worked his way back into contention like Lookin at Lucky did. Still a bridesmaid after a sizzling two-year old season. If anyone can shake it off and jump him up, it's Zito, but this one seems to slide a bit with extra distance. Could be a sprinting monster.
7. Lookin at Lucky (Baffert/Garcia) - Baffert is hoping that a change in jockey will change the horse's luck. Rough trip's have been the hallmark of his three year old season. May be the most talented colt in the race. If he can finally actually get lucky, he's a winner.
8. Super Saver (Petcher/Borel) - Great trip, loved the slop and Calvin was king. This year he stays on the Derby winner as he tries to win back-to-back Preaknesses. With a seeming lack of solid pace in the race, could Calvin take the field wire to wire? Could be.
9. Caracortado (Machowsky/Atkinson) - $40,000 would have bought you this one in his debut. A disappointing race in the Santa Anita kept this one out of the Derby which may have been a blessing. Fresh and ready he's a sentimental favorite but probably a cut below the top three here.
10. Paddy O'Prado (Romans/Desormeaux) - Desormeaux returns to where he rode as a bug boy back in my Maryland heyday. A solid race in the Derby showed he could handle the dirt track, though he's never ran over a dry, fast dirt course. He really stepped up when the spotlight was on though this time he'll probably not be so far back and need to press the pace a bit.
11. First Dude (Romans/Dominguez) - Hard to fathom that this one has a shot.
12. Dublin (Gomez) - Gomez finds a mount but he certainly didn't get any luckier with the Irish here. His preps were a series of almost theres and his Derby was flat. It's tough to imagine that Dublin has the chance to win his first race since last September against this field.
The lack of a real speedster or two in this group makes it an interesting race to figure out. No one in here is a confirmed front runner, but the Derby winner has done it in the past and this race sets up for him to take to the front and do it again. If Paddy O'Prado takes to his flank early and Lookin at Lucky can finally catch a break I think that Lucky can take this one with Super Saver holding for second with Paddy holding off Dublin for the show spot.
1. Lookin at Lucky
2. Super Saver
3. Paddy O'Prado