Filly grabs spotlight for Saturday’s 134th Preakness Stakes

May 14, 2009 8:07 PM
by David Stratton |

Early betting action this morning on Rachel Alexandra (pictured) has made her the solid 8-5 favorite for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, while Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is getting marginal support at 6-1.

The only filly in the race, Rachel Alexandra will face 12 other horses, including Derby runners-up, Pioneerof the Mile and Musket Man.

Other Derby runners advancing to the second leg of the Triple Crown include Friesan Fire, Papa Clem, General Quarters and Flying Private.

Despite Mine That Bird’s shocking upset in the Kentucky Derby, most of the hype heading into the Preakness surrounds Rachel Alexandra, the 20-length winner of the Kentucky Oaks.

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However, even though the Kentucky Oaks was Rachel’s fifth straight stakes victory, the field she beat was nothing spectacular.

In the Oaks, Rachel beat a total of six horses, four of which had never won anything but a maiden race. Moreover, the one filly expected to give her a race, Justwhistledixie, was a late scratch.

Besides running against males for the first time, Rachel is bucking some history in the race. A total of 52 fillies have competed in the Preakness before her, with only four winning the race. The last to do it was Nellie Morse in 1924. The most recent filly to run in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown was Excellent Meeting 10 years ago.

The election of Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel to ride Rachel Alexandra instead of Mine That Bird probably also influenced some bettors.

Nonetheless, Rachel has a lot to prove. She wasn’t nominated for the Triple Crown series of races and she’s never run against male horses. She might be the second coming of Secretariat, but she’s yet to prove it on the race track.

For those reasons, it would be prudent to look elsewhere for the potential winner. There’s no reason to throw out Mine That Bird, which made an impressive move to win the Derby. Maybe he is this year’s super horse, capable of winning a Triple Crown.

Another horse that looks intriguing is Big Drama on the rail. He set a record for 7 furlongs in his last race and could carry his speed this far. He deserves a long, hard look.

One horse that ran well in the Derby is Papa Clem, the Arkansas Derby winner who finished fourth in the Derby, but could have easily been second. This horse is honest and gives a good effort every time out, and the pace scenario in the Preakness appears to set up nicely for Papa.

For a complete analysis of the Preakness Stakes, check back on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m., Eastern Time.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: David Stratton