The 2nd Jewel/The 140th Preakness


The 141st Derby is in the books, and time marches on. It’s been that way since 1875, and the game has taught many of gamblers to rejoice the win, pick up the pieces, and look forward to the next opportunity. The 140th Preakness is held in Maryland in ten days. It doesn’t give the losers much time to build a bankroll, and it’s too much time for the winners to hold that cash in their pockets. – As usual, I like to build slowly. But with a short number of days to get-it-all- together, I’m picking up the pace. The Woodlawn Vase awaits the winners, and a good day of undercard action capped with a big bet in the Preakness sets my heart on fire.


I had a $50 casher from the Derby. I can only tell you it didn’t cost $50, but I was sure glad to have it the next day. What’s a player to do with limited time? Easy. Pass me the E-Z Win Forms, and let’s get to work. The day after Derby had me in a Chicago mindset. I guess it all stems back to wagering on Teleprompter in the Arlington Million to pay boxcars and a half. But I digress. I was going to use the top tier selection two times in place bets at Arlington Park to see if $50 could grow into a larger bill.


Race #6 was a turf sprint, and I love the grass racing. I made a $50 place wager on a first time turf runner by the name of Raining Diamonds. According to the handicapping icons she was a first timer to the green. In sprints I don’t mind taking the shot, but only for the first time in sprints. She won and paid a sweet $5.80 to place. The bankroll started getting over the Derby hangover, and the day looked brighter. My $50 bank grew to $145 in one bet. Next up was race #7 for maidens, and a gelding who was dropping in class with a jock change caught my eye. When Cernobbio ran second and paid $5.80 right back, things were starting to look good. The $50 left over from the Derby has grown into $420. Not bad, and the Derby was starting to get further in my review mirror. I had no real plans to play this day as the Derby had sapped me of my handicapping energy. I wanted to play, but the process of finding a winner was going to be like work. So, I just dialed up Winning Ponies to see what I could do for the day. With $420, I have plenty of money to work with now. I’ll be looking at New York, Chicago, and some of the Pimlico races to get a feel for the track. A day that started out as a “grateful to have money in my pocket” quickly turned me into getting back in the game.


Right now it looks like the top three are heading to Maryland. I was all over Mutaabhij, and he’s targeting the Belmont to show what a longer distance can do for a fresh horse. But one race at a time, and in ten days I’ll be taking my shot at Pimlico. I usually don’t play more than the Preakness and a turf stake. This is where I’ll be riding on the back of Winning Ponies. If you can find a good source to get you across the goal line, get on board and bet early and often. Right now trainers are talking about how everyone came out, and the fresh leg runners who prepped over Old Hilltop get ready for the next leg. I have heard plenty, and it’s pretty early in the process. Bob Baffert may have been a riverboat gambler in another life, and here is why I think he’ll take this one down.

American Pharoah — The Derby winner will remain in Louisville until shipping out the Wednesday of Preakness week. If you drop by Barn 33 on the Churchill Downs backside, bring his favorite snack — carrots. By the way, history’s on American Pharoah’s side. Trainer Bob Baffert calls the Preakness “the easiest race of the legs” and took it with all three of his previous Derby winners.

Dortmund — Baffert said he nearly skipped on flying Dortmund in for the Derby, worried about some colic-like symptoms after his final workout. The Big Brown colt quickly recovered, and now it’s on to the Preakness to challenge his stable mate American Pharoah again. “If Dortmund turns the tables on him,” Baffert said, “so be it.” – According to The Courier Journal.


This is all you need to know. He is playing it down when a camera lights up, and has the sound of guy with a lump of emotional joy in his voice. That may be true, but a leopard can’t change his spots. As a top-notch trainer bringing his young son to the races, wouldn’t you think he’ll be wanting his son to take part in history? This is a great time for a father and son, and if you listened to his interviews he mentioned young Mr. Bode about ten times. My 10-cent guess is he’s been looking further than the Derby for quite awhile. Good trainers target a race, and the great ones are looking two months or longer down the road. I think where we know Baffert fits, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t see the same tactics as in Louisville. The only difference will be that AP will not be as wide looking to save ground. Baffert knows there is only so much gas in the tank, and he’s looking three weeks away. If you subscribe to the who-beats-who mentality, Firing Line was beaten twice by Dortmund, and getting past this past effort may have taken a bit out of him. Baffert allowed the “bridesmaid” to get past his 1A, and use all his energy. But getting past his best student was another story. It would be like climbing out of the ring with Rocky Marciano and getting in the ring with Muhammad Ali. Pretty tall task if you ask me. But I’ll guess we’ll find out in due time.


But looking into the crystal ball is what gamblers do when nobody is in the room. We can’t help ourselves, and we look for an edge wherever we can find one. Thinking weeks away, I see a runner who took my heart. he did everything perfect, and never turned a hair. His race was far from a winner, but it may have been what the doctor ordered as we learn more in defeat that winning. You may have heard his name, and he’ll love the sweeping turns at “Big Sandy.” – Mubtaahij — Connections originally intended to send the UAE Derby winner, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, back overseas for a refreshing. But trainer Mike de Kock then “had some time to reflect on his performance” at Churchill Downs. “We watched the race replay, spoke to some people and got opinions,” the trainer added. “Mubtaahij ran a decent race and his owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum agreed that his run was good enough to keep him here for a tilt at the Belmont.” – We’ll go more into this in a few weeks, but just a little to think about. Mike de Kock won the prize for the most candid interview Derby week, and for players who didn’t know much about the man now know he does what is best for the horse and doesn’t care about money and trophies. When he won three Group 1’s and a second in Group 2 action a week before the Derby, as he was interviewed all he could talk about was going to the Derby. We’ll see him in a few weeks.


In the mean time, just keep reading the track notes from the website, and see how the runners take to the track. Watch some Pimlico replays from years past, and examine some races from this meet. You’ll want to get a feel for the track so you’ll be on your way to winning. If you’re anything like me and don’t play much Pimlico. This is where a seasoned horse player tries to become the one-day-pro. Winning Ponies follows every race everyday. They know who does better for who, and which outfits will make enough money this meet to make the year a winner. With this in your arsenal, I would say you’ll be doing better than you would be guessing on your own. Oh, and before you start hearing about the “tight turns.” There was a grand experiment a few years ago. A Louisville newspaper; one of the last to cover the sport in a professional manner did some Google Earth work to see how CD and Pimlico matched up. They lifted Churchill Downs, and placed it right over Old Hilltop. Funny thing, there looked identical. Now, CD has that long stretch to prove your mettle, but they were the same. Just relax, and just do your homework now, and download your E-Z Win Forms to find the maximum value you’ve been deserving since the derby went official.