1 - Mint Slewlep 30-1 Alan GarciaHard Spun is 7-2 in the estimation of the Daily Racing Form's "National Handicapper" (caps mine) Mike Watchmaker, and Curlin 4-1. The Form has free pp's (pdf), and these are the ones with the Moss Pace Figures. I don't really know what they tell you here that we don't already know. Flying First Class ran very fast early in the Derby Trial. Personally, I don't really know how that translates Moss-wise going into a race of this distance from the 7 1/2 furlong Trial, but I think we can certainly expect that he'll be a factor early, though we expect him to be Flying in the Cargo Hold by the finish.
2 - Xchanger 15-1 Ramon Dominguez
3 - Circular Quay 8-1 John Velazquez
4 - Curlin 7-2 Robby Albarado
5 - King of the Roxy 12-1 Garrett Gomez
6 - Flying First Class 20-1 Mark Guidry
7 - Hard Spun 5-2 Mario Pino
8 - Street Sense 7-5 Borel
9 - CP West 20-1 Edgar Prado
I think the key thing to watch early is what Pino Country does with Hard Spun. With Flying First Class just to his inside, and the speedy Xchanger well-placed in the two hole, I would think that he would want to sit a stalking trip just outside, as he did in the Lane's End. You'd think.
But it certainly seems as if this son of Danzig is in a hurry these days, between his pre-Derby work, his Derby, and his quarter mile "blowout" at Delaware, during which Pino said he "had to go 'Whoo..'"
Larry Jones wasn't going to work Hard Spun, but felt that he was losing a bit of focus and needed to be sharpened up to get his mind back on business. [Bloodhorse] This guy just seems to fly by the seat of his cowboy hat, eh? I wonder if this little work indicates that he'll be trying to get the jump on the competition once again. In the Derby, he went the first half in 46 1/5, and the second half in 50 4/5. If he runs that way on Saturday, I think it could very well be that Curlin, who won't be pinned back in 14th this time, will have eaten him up by the time they get to the quarter pole.
Curlin is already at Pimlico, and will gallop on Thursday morning, which should be worth some press in what's been a pretty slow pre-Preakness week. The biggest excitement may have been the surprise entry of Circular Quay. I have very much mixed feelings about him here. Two weeks rest is just not Pletcher's thing; over the last two years, he's one-for 13 on 14 days rest. On the other hand, there appears to be plenty enough speed, and in a short field and less traffic, you figure he's at least going to mount a rally. The Derby may serve as a good prep; it certainly shouldn't have been too taxing.
Barry Irwin keeps talking up Street Sense. “The only way Street Sense gets beat is bad racing luck.” Irwin is a trip, and again created a bit of a stir, as reported by reader Kevin. Seems that he went to the Pimlico stewards and asked them to force Velazquez to honor his commitment to ride King of the Roxy; but then the Team Valor partners voted 2-1 to ride Garrett Gomez instead. For one thing, what does that do to his relationship with Pletcher? And Irwin not only is probably the only guy who would go to the stewards on this matter, he's probably the only one who would come out and say that he did. No disrespect meant to Mr. Tafel, but I'm sure this would have been a far more entertaining week if Barry Irwin owned the Derby winner. We sure wouldn't be reading articles about Robert Bailes, whose Mint Slewlep has never run faster than an 85 Beyer.
As for the jockey issue, I think there's no doubt that Gomez is on the upswing right now, and Johnny V. may be at the stage where he's getting a little stale with the betting public. After all, even the best jockeys lose most of the time, and pick up more and more enemies along the way as disgruntled bettors bemoan an ill-timed move or a suicidal pace. As I've said, Velazquez certainly is willing to concede ground if he thinks he has the best horse, and he can look pretty bad when he doesn't.
- None of the entries have had a workout over the Pimlico track. Jones keeps talking about a "home court advantage," even though Hard Spun has never raced there.
- Street Sense arrived on Wednesday, and the Preakness barn notes says that Nafzger awaited his Derby winner’s arrival nervously, comparing himself to a father in the waiting room as he paced back and forth. Both father and horse are reported to be doing fine.