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2014 Preakness Stakes- Mike Jr.’s Picks

Mike Jr.’s Preakness Picks

2014-Preakness-StakesThe two week wait is over and Saturday, May 17th we get to see the running of the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. I love the excitement I feel before the Preakness. The Derby has its own unique feeling for me, but the Preakness can strum up some conflicting emotions like no other race can. For the Derby, I touted Dance With Fate and Ride On Curlin as my selections. We all know now that California Chrome won that day, while my selections ran 6th and 7th in that race. While Dance With Fate is not moving on to the Preakness, Ride on Curlin is one of the few Derby runners that is moving on, so naturally, I want to see him do well to justify my original thoughts on him. At the same time, like most of the betting public, I want to see the Triple Crown drought ended. I like California Chrome and I have no objections to him taking it all- he’s a great horse. But the morning line on him is 3/5! And you know how much we hate to talk chalk on this site! See what I mean- conflicting emotions. I had the same problem last year with Will Take Charge and Orb. Needless to say the Preakness didn’t pan out for either horse and Oxbow stole the race. So what I have decided to do is to throw out the emotions and handicap this thing like it’s a $5,000 claimer. To do that I have to pretend I know nothing about these entries other than what the form tells me and look for a live longshot, because honestly… he’s in there somewhere.

California ChromeAs mentioned earlier, California Chrome is the morning line favorite at 3/5. Of course he is! Because of his race record, his win in the Derby and the public’s need to see a champion horse end the Triple Crown drought, there’s just not going to be a whole lot of wiggle room for those odds. If I was handicapping this like any other race, I’d have to consider the notion that CC is due a bounce and because of the situation, will be heavily bet as a fan favorite. I have to look to bet against him (sorry California Chrome fans, but I’m just being realistic- if he wins, I have nothing but respect for him.) So if I’m betting against him, I have to look at what negatives he has standing in his way. He’s won his last 5 races and although that sounds like a plus in his favor, I don’t think so. At the moment, he’s no Wise Dan, so he’s overdue a loss. His trainer, Art Sherman, is opposed to running horses back so quickly. Remember, he has only had two weeks to recuperate from the Derby and although jockey Victor Espinoza says he’s still got some in the tank, I’m not so sure. Besides, what is he supposed to say other than that? For the most part, California Chrome likes to stalk and be close to the front. Even in the Derby he was no worse than 3rd at both the 1st and 2nd calls. Social InclusionThe frontend speed that should have been forcing a blistering early pace in the Derby, did not happen. Personally, I think it was a mixture of poor strategies and rough trips for the early speed style horses in that race. 19 horses can cause a lot of traffic problems early on. The Preakness will only have 10, making traffic problems possible, but not nearly as rough as the Derby did. So, all things considered, CC needs 1 to 2 front runners at the most to have a shot at settling in behind them comfortably. The Preakness has 6 possible front-runners. More importantly, Social Inclusion will be one of them. He is tied with CC for the top speed figure out of this bunch, which means he should be out front and setting the blistering pace that is needed for California Chrome to fall short. To even try and win this race, California Chrome has got to try and go with him and at least stay close. This should take a lot out of both horses. General a Rod will more than likely try to stay in behind California Chrome, but the pace is going to be tough on him, too.

Ride On CurlinFor value and all emotions aside, I’m sticking with Ride On Curlinat 10/1 on the morning line.  With less horses to contend with as far traffic problems, ROC has a legitimate shot at picking apart this field as they head for home. Calvin Borel was taken off of Ride On Curlin because the horse’s connections felt Borel did not follow their instructions in the Derby. Instead, Joel Rosario will be aboard. I like Rosario in this situation, but I’m not a big fan of the rotating jockey list ROC is having. Looking at the form, it seems that every time ROC doesn’t win, he gets a jockey change. Maybe Rosario will be the best fit. At any rate, I look for him to bring Ride On Curlin to about the middle of the pack, staying 4-5 horses away from the front in the early stages. He will stay there throughout the majority of the race, saving ground and waiting for the last stretch home before turning him loose.Kid Cruz It’s going to be a close one, but Ride On curling should prevail here. On the chance that the Derby took too much out of him, my longshot play will be Kid Cruz at 20 to 1 on the ML. He seems a little underrated in this group, but I envision him having a similar trip that I described for Ride On Curlin. He also has the home field advantage, being the only entry here that has run at Pimlico and the only one that has won at Pimlico. He should be well rested and ready to chew up this tiring field in the final stretch in come-from-behind fashion. Besides win/place bets on both Ride On Curlin and Kid Cruz, I’m boxing a superfecta with these two, California Chrome, Social Inclusion and General a Rod for good measure. Good luck everybody!

By the way, Saturday is the old man’s birthday. If you get a chance, stop by his picks for the Preakness and give him a shout out in the comments section. It would mean a lot to him and at his age, it’s the little things that count, lol. Have a great weekend guys and gals!

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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