Here’s what Carlos “The Clocker” has to say:
While I have been the lead driver of the Justify bandwagon for months now, I’ve got to say “Whoa Nellie” on anointing him as the next great thoroughbred after examining the race a little bit further. I’m saying it now: The 143rd Preakness is going to be remembered for blowing up the tote board with big prices. I know, this is a 180 degree turn from what I said before the Derby, but let’s look at some of the facts about Justify and Good Magic, the two favorites.
Immediately after the Derby, Justify’s soundness was called into question when some Sunday morning observers said the horse was lame. Trainer Bob Baffert laughed it off, claiming Justify had what amounted to “horsey diaper rash” on his hind legs. No really - Baffert said it was a rash. Soon after being taken to task over that truly unbelievable comment, Baffert then said the horse had a bruised hoof from walking on gravel that morning. Oh, really? Baffert wants us to believe Justify went from a rash to a bruise in less than 12 hours? The truth is there is some physical issue here. A horseshoe specialist was even flown up from Florida to affix a new shoe on the aforementioned hoof. No official word as to whether Boudreaux’s Butt Paste was credited with clearing up Justify’s diaper rash.
Physical issues aside, a closer look at the running of the Derby itself, specifically the internal fractional times and the way it was run, needs to be mentioned. The Derby pace was the fastest in recent memory with a sub 46 half-mile time. Remember the horses that came back to win the Preakness after running a sub 46 half mile in the Derby? Neither do I, because there are none. This type of physical exertion takes a lot out of a horse. The finishing time of the Derby was one of the slowest in history. A fast early and slow late pace is opposite of what a handicapper wants to see from a horse. Could this be the first sign that the horses close to the pace, like Justify and Good Magic, were feeling the effects of that fast time and taxing track? I think so.
Finally, horses like familiar routines and timing. Running back on two weeks of rest is not a normal routine for a horse. It can disrupt them mentally and physically, especially after an all-out effort like what Justify and Good Magic put out in the Derby.
All of this can be summed up in one four-letter word: Toss! I’m tossing Justify and Good Magic from the win spot to make a lifetime score on other runners. I did the same thing in the Big Brown Belmont Stakes, where foot issues and tough efforts were whispered about Big Brown before the Belmont. He ran out of the money and the track had to back up a Brinks truck to pay bettors who tossed Big Brown, which included yours truly.
Six other horses have a shot to win. The two Derby also-rans certainly have a case to make. Lone Sailor tipped his readiness with a pre-Derby blazing workout, but wasn’t able to showcase his newfound speed and maturity in the Derby on the off track. There were just too many horses to navigate through. Bravazo boasts trainer D Wayne Lukas’ success in the Preakness with Derby also-rans, and Oxbow scored for bettors at 13-1 just a few years ago. The ones I’m interested in are the new shooters Diamond King and Tenfold.
Diamond King has been pointed for this race from early on. He is a horse that likes to win and is nearly fast enough to warrant consideration based on previous speed figures. He has been in Maryland for months and is trained by John Servis , who has a Preakness win with Smarty Jones. Diamond King is improving and the distance is right up his alley. He’s a big win contender at big odds.
The other horse that will run big is Tenfold. Steve Asmussen does not enter horses in big races just to be on TV. He enters when he believes a horse has a legitimate shot to win. Tenfold has that legitimate shot to win because his recent form cycle screams, “I’m going to run the race of my life!” Tested against stout competition in the Arkansas Derby, Tenfold stayed close to the slow pace set by Magnum Moon, but all horses just ran in place in the stretch. The fact that Tenfold was able to hold his position touted his talent, and the workouts since have been superb. Tenfold will outrun his odds.
Here’s the wager. I’m using Tenfold and Diamond King on top of Justify, Good Magic, Bravazo and Lone Sailor in exactas and trifectas. I will make an extra Diamond King and Tenfold exacta box. I’m also going to box Tenfold, Diamond King, Bravazo and Lone Sailor in exacta s and trifectas just in case the two big Derby horses react bigly and run out of the money. If they do, and if I’m right, I hope Pimlico has a Brinks truck with extra cash to pay out the huge winnings on these bets.