Three horses dominated the Kentucky Derby from start to finish, and all three will be back for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on Saturday. Though others will be in the gate, too, it is hard to see a win from anyone other than the big three: American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund.
The field will not be set until Wednesday, but here is an early look at the major players, ranked in approximate order from contender to pretender.
▪ It is hard to find fault with American Pharoah. He has won five straight races and vanquished a strong field in the Kentucky Derby. There is no reason to think he will not come out firing again on Saturday. From a bettor’s standpoint, though, it might be wise to look elsewhere. There is no guarantee that everything will go right for him again, and his odds are likely to be quite short.
▪ Dortmund tried to lead the Derby wire-to-wire, which historically is very difficult to do. In the end, he tired and finished third, but it was an impressive effort. The field will be smaller at the Preakness, and the race is a sixteenth of a mile shorter. He could hang on this time.
▪ Firing Line had lost twice narrowly to Dortmund earlier in his career, but reversed that in the Derby, and would have won the race if not for the impressive effort by American Pharoah. He was the second best horse on the day and should be right in the mix again.
▪ Materiality was the pick of a lot of wiseguys in the Derby after winning the Florida Derby. But he hesitated at the start and found himself at the back of the pack, where he does not like to be. All things considered, his sixth place was not bad; if any horse can surprise one or more of the big three, he is the one. And with all the attention on the top contenders, his odds should be good.
▪ Stanford skipped the Derby and might be the best of the fresh horses who are candidates for the Preakness. But like the big three, he prefers to run near the front of the field, and he would have to improve to keep up with them.
▪ Danzig Moon closed to be fifth in the Derby. The horses he passed were mostly tiring, so that cannot be seen as too impressive a feat. Still, there are a lot of front-runners in the Preakness, which could benefit a closer. He could clunk up to fifth place this week as well.
▪ Competitive Edge is 4 for 4 but has never run beyond a mile. There are those who think he could be one of those rapidly developing 3-year-olds who improve drastically in the spring.
▪ Carpe Diem was the third favorite in the Kentucky Derby because many bettors were impressed by his win in the Blue Grass. But that race was run slowly, and sure enough, he was exposed badly in the Derby, running 10th and never contending.
▪ Divining Rod looked good winning the Lexington Stakes, but the field was not strong, and he finished behind Carpe Diem earlier in the year.
▪ Bodhisattva is another in a long line of winners of the Tesio Stakes at Pimlico who try to repeat that success in the Preakness. They almost all fail badly.
▪ Tale of Verve is just 1 for 6 lifetime, and that win came in a maiden race. Forget it