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May 18, 2012

Can a new shooter win the Preakness?

By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - About half the field expected for the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes did not race in the Kentucky Derby, and since only three non-Derby participants have won the Triple Crown's middle jewel since 1984, one can expect any one of I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Creative Cause or Went the Day Well to stand in the winner's circle on Saturday.

On the other hand, upsets do take place so anything is possible. Remember Deputed Testamony, who splashed home in the mud to win the 1983 Preakness at odds of 14-1? He did not race in the Kentucky Derby, so in order to get everyone acquainted with the "new shooters," let's take a look at their accomplishments.

A pair of horses - Teeth of the Dog and Tiger Walk - arrive at Pimlico off average performances behind Gemologist and Alpha in the Wood Memorial The former was the longest shot on the board at 53-1 but rallied through the stretch to finish third, while the latter closed well to run fourth.

Unfortunately, the Wood Memorial came up extremely weak this year, regardless of the high Beyer figure. Gemologist and Alpha, the top two finishers, were beaten a combined 49 1/4 lengths in the Derby. My Adonis, who ran seventh in the Wood, wound up third in his next race at 1-5 odds, while The Lumber Guy, who finished fifth, ran a dismal sixth in the recently run Peter Pan Stakes.

Teeth of the Dog does have one highlight in his four career starts. He defeated Went the Day Well back in February as the 2-1 favorite. Still, the fourth-place Derby finisher came into that race from Great Britain without ever running on dirt. In addition, it was his first time on a racetrack in almost four months.

The improving Teeth of the Dog could wind up competing favorably in minor stakes races later in the year. Nonetheless, he is up against it on Saturday, especially if he cannot come home faster than his 13-second final eighth (with the wind) in the Wood Memorial.

Tiger Walk has raced seven times with just two victories at nearby Laurel Park. He was beaten by Alpha twice - both times by five lengths - and he finished fourth (beaten nine lengths) to Hansen in the Gotham Stakes at 31-1.

The son of Tale of the Cat picks up Kent Desormeaux, who piloted Dullahan to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, but the addition of another quality jockey, John Velazquez, did not help him too much in the Wood. Don't expect Tiger Walk to be a factor in the Preakness.

Dale Romans decided to hold Dullahan for the Belmont Stakes, but the trainer will be represented on Saturday by Cozzetti.

The son of 1985 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Cozzene broke his maiden in his third start - an off-the-turf event at Churchill Downs last year. Since then, he's 0- for-4 in four stakes races with losses to Liaison, Howe Great, Prospective and Bodemeister.

Romans won last year's Preakness with Shackleford and finished second two years back with First Dude. However, it would be a stretch to think Cozzetti can somehow turn it up five or six notches to finish first or second this year.


Richard Dutrow Jr. has Zetterholm at Pimlico and the bay colt worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 over the track early Sunday morning. A winner of three straight, Zetterholm has yet to face any of the Derby participants as he's been running in New York State-bred races at Aqueduct this winter and spring.

Ridden by Junior Alvarado, the son of Silver Train closed from last to first to win the Patsyprospect Stakes in his last start, running the one mile in 1:37 3/5. He also finished up with an impressive 24-second final quarter. His prior start came in an allowance race in which he disposed of Coalition by a half- length inside the final furlong.

Incidentally, Coalition was also in the Patsyprospect, a race he finished third 4 1/2 lengths behind Zetterholm. It should be noted that Coalition wound up sixth as the 9-5 favorite in his most recent start against allowance horses on April 27.

Zetterholm has a lot of ability despite the lack of quality in his company lines. Don't forget, Dutrow brought the New York-bred Yawanna Twist to Pimlico for the 2010 Preakness and that colt ran a decent fourth, losing to Lookin At Lucky by less than two lengths at odds of 16-1.

Two other possible entrants are Pretension and Guyana Star Dweej.

Pretension won the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico on Derby Day by a neck over Brimstone Island. It was a surprise victory for the son of Bluegrass Cat as he was the fourth choice in the field of five.

Prentension's two prior starts did not bring much confidence to the bettors as he finished ninth in the Illinois Derby and fifth in the Gotham. The Christopher Grove-trained colt was bred in New York and his lone stakes victory came against state-breds in the Sweet Envoy Stakes over the inner dirt at Aqueduct.

Guyana Star Dweej is the top contender for last place. It took this colt eight tries to break his maiden and he finally won on April 7. The son of Eddington then ran second to repeat winner Unstoppable U in an entry level allowance race at Belmont Park.

When matched up against the top horses from the Kentucky Derby, it doesn't appear that any of these colts have a prayer to hit the board, especially when the best of the bunch is Zetterholm. Even though a new shooter has run second in the Preakness nine of the last 20 runnings, don't expect any of these horses to be the 10th in the last 21 years.

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