Friday, May 20, 2005

Preakness Stakes

The Derby was a particular disappointment.

The official selection here clearly was the best horse in the race. Now, Afleet Alex rolls into Baltimore as the hands down favorite. Yes, the admittedly gutty Giacomo, benefiting from a hot pace he will never see again even he runs on the sun, was able to make up a whopping eighteen lengths and prevail at 50-1 in Louisville. His Beyer was only 100- and that ain’t going to be enough to get in done at the Arkansas Derby, let alone the Preakness. It was a fluke; Giacomo will get beat, and beat handily, tomorrow.

I am pretty convinced that two of the top three selections, Giacomo and Afleet Alex, really have no substantial chance to win here. Again, Giacomo just lucked into a ridiculous pace- and stole the Derby with an effort that most times wouldn’t win a minor Triple Crown prep race. Afleet Alex is the best horse among the three year olds right now- but the Derby proved he ain’t that good. His post is troublesome- a great horse could overcome it, but Afleet Alex just is not a truly superior animal.

This frees one up to look for a score- and I like High Fly (9-2) and Greeley’s Galaxy (15-1). High Fly was in the mix in Kentucky- but ran out of gas, very late, as a victim of the hot pace. The shorter distance, the solid post- these all help- and one of the greatest human beings ever, Jerry Bailey, is up. If High Fly improves even a little off either his Florida Derby win or Derby effort, then he’ll be a real handful here.

Greeley’s Galaxy is a bit more subtle pick. He was a long shot in the Derby (21-1) and ran like it- finishing 11th. But the race he ran previously, in the Illinois Derby, is just the sort of effort that wins here: get up top, relax and just run. He got bobbled early in Louisville- and never got untracked- and still ran credibly. I can see him being around the front too. And at 15-1, the right $2 exacta will pay.

Some other horses I like in no particular order: Afleet Alex (of course) and Scrappy T (big number at Aqueduct).

So I am taking High Fly over Greeley’s Galaxy, Afleet Alex and Scrappy T. I am also going to put some small bets on Greeley's Galaxy over the same three- confident they’ll pay boxcar like numbers if they come in.

High Fly romps home in the Florida Derby