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May 18, 2012

A Kentucky Derby repeat in the Preakness?

By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Eleven 3-year-olds are entered in the 137th running of the Preakness with the Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another, breaking from post 9 and the Derby runner-up, Bodemeister, two spots to his inside in post 7.

Earlier this week, I analyzed the chances of the new shooters and came to the conclusion that none of the five has any chance of hitting the board or even finishing fourth. Now it's time to discuss the merits of the six colts exiting the Derby, beginning with the late addition of Daddy Nose Best.

Steve Asmussen was planning to send either Hierro and Isn't He Clever to the Preakness, but with the defection of both, he decided to bring back Daddy Nose Best.

The son of Scat Daddy was the "wise guy" horse in the Derby after dazzling the Churchill Downs onlookers with multiple solid workouts over the track. He also had won his prior two starts, including the Sunland Derby - a race he earned a 100 Beyer figure.

However, he failed to impress the record crowd on Derby Day, running 10th, finishing close to 11 lengths behind I'll Have Another. The March foal regains the services of Julien Leparoux after Garrett Gomez replaced him in Derby, but the colt will have to improve dramatically to beat the likes of the four morning-line favorites.

Optimizer, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, will be the highest-priced horse coming out of the Kentucky Derby. He finished one spot (and a half-length) behind Daddy Nose Best on the first Saturday in May.

The bay colt wound up ninth in two of his previous three starts - the Arkansas Derby, a race he was beaten by over 20 lengths, and the Risen Star Stakes, where he was 13 lengths behind both El Padrino and Mark Valeski.

Optimizer doesn't have what it takes to hit the board and will finish near the back of the pack.

Went the Day Well has been the recipient of the same positive press in Maryland that Daddy Nose Best received in Kentucky. The Graham Motion-trained colt has looked super in the mornings at nearby Fair Hill Training Center and is coming into the Preakness off a troubled trip in the Derby.

The horse was 18 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile before rallying to finish fourth. He won't be that far back early on in this race, so don't expect another powerful closing move through the stretch.

Remember, his biggest spurt down the lane came inside the final hundred yards. With the Preakness a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Derby, combined with the fact he will have to use up more energy earlier in the race, it is doubtful Went the Day Well will have what it takes to hang with the top three California horses when the real running starts.

The Big Three

It is somewhat surprising that Bodemeister received more publicity for running second than I'll Have Another got for winning the race. To that end, it was obvious he was going to be the morning line favorite for the Triple Crown's middle jewel so don't be shocked if his post time odds are even lower than his 8-5 morning-line number.

Bodemeister figures to set the pace once again with I'll Have Another close behind in second. The early fractions won't be as quick as they were in the Derby (22 1/5, 45 1/5, and 1:09 4/5), but they won't be that far off, either, especially since the track will be fast on Saturday.

It is interesting to note that Bodemeister's two wins were blowouts - the 9 1/2-length romp in the Arkansas Derby and the 9 1/4-length score in his maiden victory. Other than those two efforts, he is 0-for-3, including losses in the Derby to I'll Have Another and in the San Felipe to Creative Cause.

This will be his third race in five weeks and his fifth since breaking his maiden on Feb. 11. Conversely, I'll Have Another has raced just twice since mid-February.

On the positive side, trainer Bob Baffert would not have brought him to Pimlico if he wasn't confident in the colt's ability to bounce back from the taxing effort in the Derby. And since Baffert has won five of the last 15 Preakness runnings, look for Bodemeister to be on top of his game. Nonetheless, it still might not be good enough to hold off the Derby winner.

Creative Cause will be the overlooked horse in the race, particularly with the top two finishers getting all the attention, along with Went the Day Well and his Maryland-based trainer.

The son of Giant's Causeway ran a credible fifth in Kentucky, beaten just three lengths for first. Not only did he run the fastest four furlongs (48 seconds) between the half and the mile of any horse in the race, he did so while running seven/eight wide around the track.

If one excuses Bodemeister for not hanging on after blazing the first six furlongs in 1:09 4/5, than the same can be said for Creative Cause enduring a 48-middle half while running against the bias of the track.

It also must be noted that Creative Cause might not have been at his best the week of the Derby as his work and gallops over the Churchill Downs surface left a lot to be desired.

On the negative side, trainer Mike Harrington took him back to California after the race, so a pair of long plane trips in less than two weeks might not be the best way to prepare the colt for the Preakness.

I'll Have Another, the Derby winner, comes into the Preakness as the second choice behind Bodemeister. However, second choice in odds only, not ability.

Look for him to run a race similar to his Santa Anita Derby victory on April 7. That day, he sat 2 1/2 lengths behind Blueskiesnrainbows before running the final three furlongs in a brisk 36 2/5. The only difference in the Preakness is that he will be a little bit closer to the lead in the early going.

There is nothing to suggest I'll Have Another will regress after winning the Kentucky Derby. In fact, he should be even stronger since the second jewel will be just his third appearance since Feb. 5.

If there is one issue to be concerned with, it is I'll Have Another's inability to corner the turns. He bore out on the clubhouse turn and then went slightly wide approaching the stretch in the Santa Anita Derby. He also failed to cut the corner properly in the Kentucky Derby, which in turn forced Creative Cause extremely wide heading into the homestretch.

Still, his overall strength, talent and determination will propel him to another victory, this one by more than the 1 1/2 lengths he won by in Louisville.

The Preakness Bets

Since I'll Have Another will be around 5-2 odds, the value will be in the exotics. Once again, starting with a mythical $100 to wager, bet $40 on a straight exacta of I'll Have Another over Creative Cause.

Six different straight trifectas will take care of the other $60. The first two - I'll Have Another/Creative Cause/Bodemeister and I'll Have Another/Bodemeister/Creative Cause - are for $20 apiece.

The next four - I'll Have Another/Creative Cause/Went the Day Well, I'll Have Another/Bodemeister/Went the Day Well, I'll Have Another/Went the Day Well/Creative Cause and I'll Have Another/Went the Day Well/Bodemeister - are for $5 each.

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