The big question for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, is whether Rachel Alexandra runs against Derby winner Mine That Bird.
If she is 100 percent, her new trainer says she will run, and the owners of Luv Guv said they would withdraw their horse if needed to get Rachel Alexandra into the field.
Also, Ahmed Zayat, owner of Pioneerof the Nile stated, that he would not enter other horses in the Preakness in order to keep Rachel Alexandra out.
As fear has set in, the boys appear scared to death of this filly, who just destroyed a few other girls in the Oaks by more then 20 lengths.
Her new trainer, Steve Asmussen, worked the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro for the first time and, according to Asmussen, the work was perfect.
There are a lot of firsts lately and this will be another first as a jockey of the horse that won the Kentucky Derby – Calvin Borel – said he would jump off of Mine That Bird – and forego a chance at winning the Triple Crown – and ride Rachel Alexandra in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The trainer of Mine That Bird has not named a new rider yet as he will wait until the last minute, just in case Rachel Alexandra decides not to run. Then it’s likely Borel will remain on Mine That Bird; I am so confused, this used to be so easy!
As for the Preakness on paper, Rachel beats the boys but as Nick Zito said after the Kentucky Derby, when they put you in the gate there is always a chance you can win so what looks to be a walk over by the girl against some overmatched boys just may not be the case.
There will be more speed in the Preakness than Rachel has seen in all of her races combined and we just don’t know how she will respond with horses running ahead of her and on both sides of her – and that will be the case.
I don’t think anyone will be able to out-sprint the speedy and undefeated Hull to the front and this guy has been working lights out. If he clears and no one can run with him he could be gone before they know what happened – just like in the Derby Trial.
Moreover, his trainer Dale Romans is one solid trainer.
Big Drama is another with big time early speed and he has won five of seven, actually six of seven except he was disqualified from his last start and placed second.
Papa Clem can go either way but will be up close to the pace.
Take The Points is another with good early foot and he will be up close to the pace, while the hometown favorite, Tone It Down, can also motor early.
Pioneerof The Nile may be the best stalker but his jockey has had his hands full trying to get this talented colt to relax. But he definitely looks like part of the trifecta and superfecta, along with the colt he just did beat for second money in the Kentucky Derby, Musket Man, who just may be the best closer in the race.
Musket Man has never been off the board and always keeps coming at you; if the speed backs up even a little he could win.
Some of the others that may go are Terrain, who just looks like a plodder but could be used in the fourth slot in the super; Flying Private did not like the off track in the Kentucky Derby at all but could fare better on a fast strip.
Friesan Fire, the Kentucky Derby favorite, had a horrible trip and could rebound if 100 percent, but he may just be a horse that loved the Fairgrounds.
General Quarters just hated the slop but he just may not be good enough.
Mine That Bird may be another Canonero II – everyone thought that his Kentucky Derby win in 1971 was a fluke, but he came right back and won the Preakness.
If Rachel gets into the race, it could be Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith riding Mine That Bird and wouldn’t it be ironic if Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird finished first and second.
That would set up for one big Belmont Stakes, and the race books here in Vegas would just love it. I can see all the props just rolling around in Johnny Avello’s head right now.
If Rachel is as good as she ran in the Oaks, she should win and the boys will be running for place money, but most of the time it simply isn’t as easy as it looks.
And, that is why they run the race.
Good luck and play those lucky numbers; you never know … you could be walking around lucky.
(For a more thorough analysis of the Preakness, check back beginning Friday. At the time of this writing, the actual entrants had not yet been determined.)
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Richard Saber