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Preakness Retrospective

Posted by on 5/18/2015 10:08:53 PM

Things were not perfect on Preakness Day last Saturday at Pimlico as the rains came and it affected the surface but Bob Baffert’s student American Pharoah took no prisoners after breaking a bit sluggishly.

About 10 minutes before the gates opened a downpour blasted the Pimlico surface and made the track a sea of slop.

American Pharoah’s hand was forced a bit when he drew the rail and he was pretty much committed to the lead on Wednesday when the drew the race. But when the gates opened and American Pharoah saw it was the overmatched Mr. Z challenging early, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

Victor Espinoza again gave American Pharoah as masterful ride, Espinoza: “He broke a tiny big slow, so I had to push him to go to the front. Once he got to the lead he was very comfortable. I wasn’t going to try to get the lead, but after the rain I changed my mind.”

Espinoza won the first 2 legs of the Triple Crown with Baffert’s War Emblem and last year so he is hoping the third time is the charm.

Partly because of the off going, the early splits were fast on Saturday. American Pharoah went :22.90, :46.49, 1:11.42. 1:37.74 and came home slowly to get the mile and three sixteenths in 1:58.46.

It was the slowest Preakness since 1956 when Fabius was the victor over Needles and No Regrets on a fast track.

In comparison last year California Chrome went :23.56, :46.85, 1:11.06, 1:35,65 and finished up in 1:54.84.

The final time is pretty much irrelevant because of the surface on the track but also know that I’ll Have Another ran a full second slower than California Chrome in 2012. Curlin was the only runner in the last 9 years that ran faster than California Chrome as he got the Preakness distance in 1:54.46 and the next fastest to that time came way back in 1998 when Real Quiet was clocked in 1:54.60.

And there is another thing to consider. There is a old racing adage that say time is only important if you are in jail and this could be transferred the this year’s Preakness.

Last Saturday, the track was playing fast early. The track was sealed about 90 minutes before the Preakness. A seal is a procedure when they roll over the track with heavy machinery to tighten down the surface. But before the post parade for the Preakness, harrows were used on the track and it opened it up and broke the seal.

Then the deluge hit, so the rain immediately seeped into the dirt and made it very, very slow.

The Beyer Speed Figure for American Pharoah also took a bit of a hit as he earned a 102 figure.

California Chrome earned 105 Beyer. Oxbow earned a 106 Beyer, I’ll Have Another recorded a 109 Beyer and Curlin peaked with a 111 figure.

The Belmont Stakes on June 6 is on deck and that is a galloper’s race. With the sweeping turns of Belmont Park and the anticipated huge crowd, trainers, riders and the participants will have to hold their composure.

Looking toward the completion of the Triple Crown, one thing Baffert has in his favor is that he knows exactly what it takes to get horses to progress in this race as he has learned from history.

This is his 4th chance at training a Triple Crown winner but it will not be easy considering what American Pharoah has been through of late. He will be trying to win his 4th consecutive Grade 1 race and he has compressed his activity. He will attempt to win for the 4th time in about 7 weeks.

Start now and get in that New York state of mind.

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