Preakness Stakes preview

by TCI 11 months ago

The TCI Boys discuss all of the Preakness contenders and who’s most likely to give Orb his toughest challenge on Saturday. They also dive into the pace scenario and what kind of trip to expect from Orb’s much-talked-about rail draw, as well as talk about a longshot they think will fire big in the Preakness. So, is Orb in danger of defeat, or will this race be setting up history on June 8th? Watch it. Comment.

Discussion

  • JR

    Hi Joel,
    You haven’t said anything about Goldencents I was thinking about him in the tri, what do you think.
    Regards,
    JR

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey JR!

      I think Goldencents will run his race today, and I do think he has plenty of class to compete in this race. But I just cannot get over the fact that he’s going to face heat all the way around, as there are as many as five colts with quality speed among the nine in the field. So the pace scenario just doesn’t look friendly to Goldencents’ style from what I can see, unless Goldencents can somehow work his way off the pace, take dirt from Titletown Five and others while settling, then pounce and hope to hold off Orb, Mylute, Will Take Charge and the closers who should get a great setup for thief closing runs. The stalking trip I just described is the one I feel Oxbow will get, which is why I think he’ll be the one from the first couple flights that can be on the board and perhaps pose the greatest threat to the closers like Orb.

      Best of luck today!

  • Joe Polander

    Hi Joel – You were spot on with Oxbow. He not only posed a big threat to Orb, he stole the Preakness Gate to Wire with his good tactical/cruising speed. I also liked Oxbow in the Derby and Preakness. However, all of my Preakness bets had Orb on top. I just couldn’t envision Orb not passing Oxbow in the stretch. Orb never got the chance in the Preakness. The #1 post did not do him any favors, and when Joel Rosario got Orb up to 3rd about half way thru the race, Rosario said that Orb was struggling, and lacked acceleration, which is a big weapon of his. I think the Derby took alot out of Orb, maybe took away that stellar acceleration, whereas Oxbow, who is built like a tank, came out ot the Derby with more energy and closed the deal on Saturday. Watching the press conference after the Preakness, you had to like the class, experience, and knowledge that Gary Stevens and Wayne Lukas bring to the sport, and throw in Oxbow who is very talented in his own right. We have to see who will run in the Belmont, but my #1 pick will be Oxbow. Gary Stevens and Wayne Lukas said that the colt was not blowing hard after the race and should be primed for the Belmont, a race where he is almost sure not to be the favorite, with the likes of Revolutionary, Orb, Golden Soul, and other quality colts running. Oxbow will be my trifecta box key horse with several of the top contenders. Gary Stevens knows this horse now, he will be very dangerous in the Belmont to hit the Board, and should be a strong win contender. Revolutionary needs a good pace to close into. Revolutionary could be the Belmont favorite. Oxbow won’t provide that hot pace for the closers, but his tactical / cruising speed could provide the Stevens/Lukas team another classic win.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe! Oxbow finally pulled through! Good for him, I really always thought he had it in him to be this kind of colt that could compete to win an American Classic.

      Great ride by Stevens to find himself alone on an uncontested pace, which was odd IMO — not because Oxbow didnt have the speed to do it, but because I found it hard to believe so many horses would be content taking back early on, leaving a very reasonable pace. Bizarre how that happens as often as it does… it’s like the trainers over-handicap the race and over-think things, and they start telling their riders to stalk or to not get involved in the torrid pace. Next thing you know, Stevens takes advantage… But I did think Itsmyluckyday had every chance and failed to close the gap on Oxbow, and even Mylute closed nicely from dead last so his set-up wasn’t terrible IMO.. I really do think Oxbow was just the second best horse in the race, and after the best horse (Orb) failed to fire it left the door open for Oxbow to take it down.

      Oxbow does have the energy level and efficient stride for a race like the Belmont if he can just keep clipping along 12 and change every furlong. I haven’t really focused on that field/race yet, but one thing to me that’s THE most important thing for a race going 1 1/2 miles is figuring out which contenders are best suited from a pedigree standpoint to best handle the trip. I will be researching female families as my #1 angle..I really really believe the modern-day Thoroughbred is not bred to go that far, thus regardless of talent and quality, I am looking for the top Tomlinsons, Dosage Indexes, etc. as part of the formula to figure out who has the best chance to be standing on top after 12 furlongs on June 8th. We all know the “best” horse doesn’t always win this race judging by more modern history of the breed… Let the studying begin!

  • JR

    Hi Joel,
    We were holding out for OX thinking at some point he would make his run, given all the bad post positions he has had in the past, I just didn’t think he would win, second yes. Remember when you saw Orb after the race and you noted he wasn’t blowing, pretty much acted like he hadn’t just ran a big race. Leading into the Preakness his works were good, looked good, Shrug felt good, all systems go for the Preakness. I was disappointed, I thought there was a good chance for a TC.

    I am happy for Gary and Wayne Lukas, those two are quite a story in itself. Rosario comments were surprising when he said he just kinda leveled out. Did you catch Mike Smith’s comments on WTC ? Mike had no idea what to make of this horse, I have never heard Mike talk like that before.

    I saw on HRTV the horses that may run in the Belmont. It will be a loaded field. Are you and Jon still going to Belmont? If Pletcher runs his two fillies which is likely, that will be real twist on the Belmont. Will certainly make for interesting coverage. You and Jon need to be apart of this one. Plus, I need to hear what you have to say first hand.

    Looking forward to your re-cap Joel, have a great day my friend.
    Kind Regards,
    JR

    • Joel Cunningham

      JR,

      I bought into Shug’s confidence too, because he’s such a candid and conservative guy. But in hindsight I think it’s clear that perhaps he had the wrong read on his colt. Just my guess on the situation. Let’s face it, running back on two weeks rest isn’t something any of these guys do very often – especially Shug. He’s a guy who usually allows his horses tell him when they’re ready to run, rather than training them on his own schedule. Lukas, on the other hand, is a very demanding trainer who obviously asks more of his horses and isn’t shy of running them back on short rest. Oxbow obviously handled the situation well.

      If Shug could take anything back I would guess he would take back that 47 flat work at BEL a week after the Derby and just a week prior to the Preakness. I know he thought the colt had done it easily, but I think Orb may have fooled him in the end unfortunately. He looked to me like a tired colt who finally bounced and turned in a very flat effort. That’s why this Triple Crown is just so tough to handle…Orb was being asked to do something that the system made him do (ship and run back in 2 weeks), rather than do something he’s normally been accustomed to doing with plenty of rest and preparation in between races. Still a great colt with a huge future.

      From what I read from Mike, he said Will Take Charge wasn’t handling the track at all. It was clear to me that the track was deeper and more tiring. Govenor Charlie reportedly didnt handle it either, and perhaps Orb was in that boat. The speed figures I’ve seen came back solid for a race that everyone wanted to say was “slow”, which also shows that the track was just on the sluggish/laboring side Saturday afternoon.

      I will be at Belmont and am really looking forward to it. Always a terrific race card that weekend that will have major Breeders’ Cup implications later in the year based on recent history, and since we’re doing TCI towards the Breeders’ Cup I’m very anxious to see some of the top horses in the country in person. As for the Belmont, as I was saying to Joe below in a post, I am really really big into female families and the needed genetic stamina for this particular race. I normally am not big into that stuff, but to me it’s paramount for this race at 1 1/2 miles and the BC Marathon at 1 3/4 miles, etc…because we simply do not breed horses to run that far on dirt any more in North America, I really believe that. I have had success narrowing down likely winners of the Belmont in recent years, and I will try to do the same this year! Can’t wait to get to NY!

  • JR

    Hi Joel,

    Do you know how many hands Oxbow is. Keep hearing he is a small horse, Mind that Bird I think was 15.2.Considering how many races Ox has run, a bounce for him in the Belmont, is not out of the realm of possibilities. Am I wrong in my thinking?

    As far as dosage it looks like Revolutionary being represented in all five categories looks like a real contender, plus skipping the Preakness will probably be a plus. Golden Soul would be another one to look at. Of course Orb, Shug has said it is a wait and see with Orb.

    If Will Take Charge had a problem with the track, how do you think he will handle the Big Sandy?

    The saying Pace makes the race, truer words were never spoken, once again it’s a crap shoot. Take care Joel, look forward to Belmont coverage.

    Kind Regards,
    JR

    • Joel Cunningham

      JR, you would be correct in your assessment of Oxbow, he is not a big horse. I don’t know of anybody who’s put a stick to him, but I would guess he’s 15.3. I’ve seen him close-up multiple times, but I don’t have the eye for accurately sizing a horse. He is definitely a medium sized horse at best. I would not classify him as “small” necessarily…you mentioned Mine That Bird who I believe was noticeably smaller. The Factor is another one who comes to mind in recent years that you would classify as a small horse.

      As far as the bounce is concerned, he is a colt who carries a lot of muscle tone and weight for his frame, so I would have to see a decline in that to believe he’s going through the negative affects of running too hard through the Triple Crown. But he’s so naturally energetic and efficient in his running motion that I have thought if any colt possessed what it took to pull off the Triple Crown grind, it would be him. He seems to do so much, so easily. I go back to the Risen Star when he vanned in from Arkansas ran the hardest race of any in the field that day IMO, and then vanned back…within a week Lukas breezed him 6 furlongs in a solid 1:13 and change, and then the next week zipped him a bullet half mile in 48 and change, the fastest of 25 works at the distance that day at Oaklawn…then a week later he ran the best race in the Rebel Stakes despite again losing. That impressed me and really raised Oxbow up a level in my book as far as tough, high-quality 3-year-olds that would be factors in this year’s Triple Crown. He remained in my Top 5 group even after the Arkansas Derby because he had already proven to me he had it in him to be a top colt, and i physically never saw any reason for me to believe otherwise. So, yes, I do think he will fire his race in the Belmont…however, my concern with him is the distance…

      Oxbow is bred terrifically for 9-10 furlongs… but like Paynter a year ago (another high-quality colt with basically the same pedigree), the Belmont at 1 1/2 miles is outside most of these colts’ comfort zones. I really believe if the Belmont Stakes had been anywhere from 7-10 furlongs last year that Paynter would have beaten Union Rags… but once you get outside of what our horses in North America are being bred for these days I believe it creates a high level of uncertainty… and like Paynter a year ago, I think Oxbow is up against it a little bit in terms of distance. Remember, the best horse doesn’t always win this race…just the best colt at 1 1/2 miles…which is why we’ve seen colts like Ruler On Ice, Da’ Tara, Sarava and many other huge longshots get the job done in the Belmont at 1 1/2 miles, although none of the aforementioned colts ever really showed again in their careers that they could run with the best of their generations at more conventional distances.

      But I’m getting ahead of myself now. More to come!


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