2006 Preakness Picks – Predictions
|2006 Preakness Picks and Analysis |
by Ultimatecapper Horse Handicapper Kenneth Strong
Preakness Stakes Picks for Saturday May 20, 2006 Pimlico Race Course
1. Brother Derek
Will the real Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint please stand up and make the 2006 Preakness Stakes a horserace. We think so, and we’ll adjust our Preakness picks accordingly.
It’s not that we don’t like Barbaro, a deserving favorite who truly looks like a good horse – and not just because of his Kentucky Derby romp. His mid-stretch bobbling effort to beat Sharp Humor in the Florida Derby proved he was a good horse. If you watch that race replay closely you’ll see Barbaro take a misstep on his third or fourth try to get by Sharp Humor in the drive. He was looking for the stride that would help him put away his game rival – and he found it. That was the real indicator that tipped Barbaro’s Kentucky Derby performance – the heart factor – the will to win.
The problem was that Barbaro was an underlay in the Derby, and he will again be an underlay in the Preakness, so we’ll look elsewhere for value.
Brother Derek had a brutal trip in the Derby, 6-wide early, then steadying and finally 9-wide late. It was amazing that he even got up to dead-heat for fourth. He just couldn’t overcome the wide post. Sweetnorthernsaint also went off at underlay odds in the Kentucky Derby and didn’t run too bad considering he was bumped at the start and steadied early before making a middle move and tiring in his first try against good horses.
Contrast the trips Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint received in the Derby to the almost-perfect stalking trip Barbaro received. Barbaro did stumble at the start, but he quickly recovered to gain beautiful position behind the speed. When they quit he appeared to explode, but it probably looked better than it really was. Still, he did have something left at the wire.
Can Barbaro win the Preakness? Sure, but we won’t be playing him at underlay odds of 4/5 for a number or reasons. He ran the biggest Beyer Speed Figure of his career (111) in the Derby, and now must come back in two weeks and repeat that race to win the Preakness. And he has to do that on a foundation of only three races. Additionally, it is highly unlikely that Sweetnorthernsaint and Brother Derek will receive the poor trips they got in the Derby.
We thought Brother Derek was a very good horse before the Derby and we haven’t changed our mind. And Sweetnorthernsaint was moving way up in class for the Derby. He likely needed a race against that caliber of competition before showing his best at that level. The Derby sets Sweetnorthernsaint up perfectly for the Preakness and he has been working like a monster. Obviously the Derby didn’t take too much out of him.
If there is one other horse that could slip into the Preakness exotics it should be Like Now, a speedy sort that ran a good second to Showing Up in the Lexington. We see the race setting up with Like Now as the speed of the speed. If he gets loose he could go a long way, but we can’t see him beating all of the big three – Barbaro, Sweetnorthernsaint and Brother Derek.
If Like Now gets pressure from Diabolical or Bernardini he should be able to put either of those two away on seasoning or class, which still sets the race up for Barbaro, Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint. Bernardini looks like he could be any kind and he has the pedigree to back up his undefeated record, but he will have to run the race of his life against three very tough seasoned horses to win this.
The average payoff in the Preakness over the past 20 years has been $9.60. Favorites win the Preakness almost 50 percent of the time with second and third choices accounting for 25 and 10 percent of the winners respectively over the last 20 years. The Preakness favorite also finishes in the money 85 percent of the time. Sounds like a good show bet for the bridge jumpers, but not much fun. We think the value will be in the Exacta and Trifecta and not in the win spot.
Nineteen of the last 20 Preakness winners came out of the Derby. So history says the winner of the 2006 Preakness will be Barbaro, Brother Derek or Sweetnorthernsaint. All are capable of rallying to win from about four lengths back to win – the running style that has produced almost 50 percent of the last 20 Preakness winners. Despite the reputation of Pimlico as a speed-favoring surface, only three of the last 20 Preakness winners have been able to wire the field.
Our key plays in the exotics will include Brother Derek, Barbaro and Sweetnorthernsaint on top. We’ll also include Like Now on top on one small ticket, just in case he gets loose and smokes the field. The value will hopefully come when the big three battle for supremacy from the top of the stretch home, setting up either the place or show position up for a longshot.
We will also make a win bet if we can get 3-1 or better on Brother Derek and 10-1 or better on Like Now.
2006 Preakness Predictions: 1. Brother Derek 2. Barbaro3. Sweetnorthernsaint 4. Like Now