Five Preakness 'new shooters' are all long shots to win
The "new shooters" are all long shots in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
The new-shooter angle has long been studied by handicappers analyzing the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The theory holds that new shooters, horses who did not run in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, hold a possible advantage.
For starters, most new shooters are fresher, having had more time to recuperate since their last race. They are also not dinged up, having avoided the 20-horse stampede in the Derby.
Two of the last six Preakness winners were new shooters: Bernardini (2006) and the filly Rachel Alexandra (2009).
Of the 11 Preakness runners this year, five are new shooters: Tiger Walk, Teeth of the Dog, Pretension, Zetterholm and Cozzetti. They are among the longest shots on the morning-line with odds ranging from 15-1 to 30-1.
They all fail the class test. None has won a graded stakes, racing's key benchmark.
Zetterholm has won three straight, all races at Aqueduct limited to horses bred in New York. Tiger Walk is 0 for 3 this year, with a third in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct his best finish. Teeth of the Dog has run only four times including a third in his lone stakes try, the Wood Memorial.
Pretension captured the Canonero II Stakes, a minor Preakness prep at Pimlico. Cozzetti is only 1 for 7, scoring the victory on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs last November.
Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor International partnership syndicate that won last year's Derby with Animal Kingdom and sends out Went the Day Well in the Preakness, is unimpressed by this crop of new shooters.
Of the five, only Zetterholm got a tepid endorsement.
"I think he looks OK," Irwin said. "You can't totally discount him. The other ones, they don't look like they have it."
BAILEY ON PACE: Pace in the Preakness has been a hot topic following Bodemeister's front-running bid in the Derby.
On Friday morning, Jerry Bailey weighed in. The retired Hall of Fame jockey and analyst for NBC has plenty of Preakness experience, having won the race twice.
Bodemeister with Mike Smith aboard went too fast in the Derby on a hot, steamy day at Churchill Downs. He faded to second as I'll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez galloped past in deep stretch to snatch away the victory.
Most observers, including Bailey, expect to see Bodemeister on the lead in the Preakness. If Smith can slow the fractions, Bodemeister will be tough to catch.
Bailey isn't sure that can happen. He envisions another quick pace, if I'll Have Another or Creative Cause, fifth in the Derby, press the issue in the early stages.
"Those are the only two horses that could create a very quick pace, assuming Bodemeister breaks well," Bailey said. "They are the only two that possess the speed. That's how they run, so it would not be a total change of form for them."
As for Bodemeister, Bailey feels he just needs to go a touch slower.
"I don't think Mike has to slow him down too much," Bailey said. "That's his effective tool, that he can go at a fairly high cruising speed and still kick on and win."
NO DUTROW: There have been no Rick Dutrow sightings this week at Pimlico.
The trainer of Zetterholm has been keeping a low profile as he appeals a 10-year suspension in New York for multiple medication violations in his horses. Dutrow, winner of the 2008 Derby and Preakness with Big Brown, is not expected until Saturday to saddle Zetterholm.
He arrived last weekend in the care of assistant trainer Blake Dutrow, Rick Dutrow's nephew. The colt wound up in Stall 40 in the Preakness Stakes barn, the spot normally reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner.
The stall was vacated when trainer Doug O'Neill opted to move I'll Have Another to a quieter barn nearby.
Blake Dutrow, 20, is the grandson of Maryland training legend Richard Dutrow, Sr.