Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2004 all over again?

I paid a little more attention this time around. Heading into the Derby, my Paulick Derby Index picks included Thunder Moccasin. All right for Janurary, but when he was subsequently taken off the trail, I kept him on, because, well, I didn’t pay attention.

Good Ol’ Pete called me one day and said, “Hey! You gotta take Thunder Moccasin off your Top Ten list. He was taken off the trail months ago. Besides, he’s a sprinter!”


Which brings us to the 137th Preakness Stakes. So I’m following the notes. Liking what I hear. Feel I’ve got a good handle. Good Ol’ Pete texts me, “Who’s your Preakness winnah?”


“Wow! Your pick is a horse that’s actually running in the race! Way to finally move on from Thunder Moccasin!”

“Thunder Moccasin’s not running? Who you got in the Preakness?”

“I’ll Have Another.”

“No, really … ”

Then he called me. Immediately. He was on his lunch break.

“So, wait, you really like I’ll Have Another?” I asked.

“Yeah. I think the two best horses ran 1-2 in the Derby and I think the best two horses will run 1-2 in the Preakness. I think this is the first year I’ve liked the Derby winner in the Preakness. No, wait, there was Big Brown.”

Since the 8-5 Bodemeister scared away all the speed he could be a rabbit with no hare to follow. Given this will be his third race in five weeks with monster efforts in both the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby, a regression is in order. He’ll still run a 100 Beyer, but even a slight regression will be just enough for him to get passed by the sixteenth pole yet again. Or maybe not.

Post 11 would suit him well, break clean and clear from the outside, but Post 7 will have to do. And this, pardon the pun, bodes well for Bodemeister. In 2008, Big Brown broke from Post 7 and got a dream trip. Bodemeister’s speed will be his best asset as he will likely break clean and clear from Creative Cause (6-1) to his left and Daddy Nose Best (12-1) to his right.

I’ll Have Another (5-2) has been at Pimlico for nearly two weeks and has been gleaming and strutting the way champions do. Trainer Doug O’Neil can’t shut up about him. And who can blame him? He’s the fresher of the two and stands to come running late.

The problem is that Rick Dutrow, Jr. has a horse in here he’s very, very high on, electing to run him in the Preakness versus the Peter Pan at Belmont. His name: Thunder Moccasin … just kidding … Zetterholm (Post 4, 20-1).

Zetterholm comes into the Preakness on a three-race win streak. He paired up his last two Beyers with an 83 and an 85. Dutrow, as of this writing, has 28 starts at Belmont and has hit the board with 21 of those horses (9 wins, 5 seconds, 7 thirds). His barn is hotter than New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s lust for NYRA’s demise.

He stands to make a big leap forward to somewhere in the mid-90s, maybe higher. This will, at the very least, put him in the Top 3.

So maybe it’s 2004 all over again. Lion Heart and Smarty Jones. One-two in the Derby. One-two in the Preakness. Should I’ll Have Another win, we won’t see Bodemeister in the Belmont. Hmmmm ….

Who might Nick Zito have in three and half weeks over Big Sandy?

Brendan O'Meara wrote a book. He'd also like you to follow him on Twitter. If you were on Twitter, he'd follow you.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

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BallHype: hype it up!

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