Tuesday

Preakness Stakes Notes: Big Brown Crushes, Peek at the Picks & Looking Ahead to the Belmont


What a Saturday it was. I was fortunate enough to get paid to be at the Track watching yet another dominant performance by Big Brown.

So today I'll give you a brief break down of the race. Then (unfortunately) I'll go over the results of my picks. And finally we'll look ahead to the 140th Belmont Stakes and Big Brown's run at history.

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There's the bell, and we're off!

For those of you who missed the race, here's the best video clip I could find of it:





Big Brown is the 7-horse in the orange blanket with his Jockey, Kent Desormeaux, in white silks.

According to post-race interviews, Desormeaux said that Big Brown didn't get out of the gate terribly well. He slipped a little bit as he broke which allowed some other horses to get out in front of him.

If you look closely as Big Brown starts out, you'll see his head turning slightly to his right. This is because Desormeaux is holding him back early. He didn't want BB to use up his energy fighting for the lead early in the race. For horses that are used to being out front early, this can sometimes be a big problem. But in the case of BB, you'll notice he responds quickly and settles into a stalking position just behind the pace horses.

Heading into the first turn, BB is right at the rail, stalking nicely behind Gayego, Riley Tucker and Hey Byrn. Coming out of the first turn, Hey Byrn is already doing the moonwalk back to the rest of the pack. Desormeaux had to contend with Riley Tucker for position and ultimately chooses to move Big Brown outside of the front two horses as he prepares to make his move.

And just like in the Derby, it's in the second turn where Big Brown makes his big move. About halfway through the turn you see Desormeaux peek behind him to see where the rest of the field is at, and then leans in and asks Big Brown to go. And oh does Big Brown ever go!

The move that BB makes exiting the second turn and heading down the backstretch is as impressive a move as you'll ever see in horse racing. He's so dominant, that about halfway down the backstretch, you see Desormeaux taking an extended look under his arm behind him, and then looking up and slowing Big Brown down. He was so far out in front of the other horses that Desormeaux decided to try and save some of Big Brown's energy for the Belmont.

The final margin of victory was 5 1/4 lengths, but could've easily been 10+ lengths had Desormeaux let Big Brown sprint out the final stretch of the race.

So I've finally given you, my dear readers, a Preakness winner. Clearly I can't brag too much over picking a horse that went off at the gaudy price of 1-5. But since it's the first time I've actually been correct on a Preakness winner, I have to point it out.

That being said, I unfortunately have to inform you that all my exotic picks failed to hit. Here's what I ended up betting:

$2 Trifecta: 7 with 8, 10, 11 with 2, 8, 10, 11, 13
(cost: $24)

$5 Exacta: 7 with 8, 10, 11
(cost: $15)

Final Board: Win - 7, Place - 1, Show - 3
$2 Exacta (7-1) Paid $36.60
$2 Trifecta (7-1-3) Paid $336.80

So as you can see, there was money to be made, but I won precisely none of it.

What can I say? I've never hit a trifecta in my life, why should I start now?

Still, $40 isn't too much to spend on what was a worthwhile day of entertainment.

So where do we go from here? Well the simple answer is to Belmont Park for the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 7th.

But the bigger question is: Will Big Brown win the Triple Crown?

My answer for you right now? Boy I sure hope so.

The Belmont is the longest of the 3 Triple Crown races at 1 1/2 miles. And as dominant as Big Brown's been at 1 1/4 miles (Kentucky Derby) and 1 3/16 miles (Preakness Stakes), there's some question as to whether he'll be able to handle the longer distance. I don't really think it's going to be a problem. This horse has been able to change gears from relaxed gallop to dead sprint and back again so flawlessly that I don't think there's a danger of him blowing up too early in the race - a fate that has befallen several previous Triple Crown contenders.

As of today, two horses out of the Preakness - Macho Again and Icabad Crane - and three from the Derby - Denis of Cork, Tale of Ekati, and Anak Nakal - were scheduled to face Big Brown in the Belmont, along with Casino Drive, and Tomcito. Behindatthebar, Ready's Echo, and Spark Candle are also candidates to run on the 7th.

Big Brown's biggest competition will be Casino Drive who's the half-brother of Rags to Riches and Jazil who are the last two Belmont Stakes Champions. So clearly he's bred for the distance. Denis of Cork finished 3rd in the Derby and will be coming to Belmont on 5-weeks rest as opposed to Big Brown's 3. So he's certainly another horse to consider.

The hype machine has already started. Big Brown arrived at Belmont Park yesterday with a UPS truck and driver waiting at his stall for the big media moment. And it's only going to get crazier from here.

So enjoy the ride as we build up to the biggest contest in horse racing in years and I'll return in a couple weeks with my Belmont Preview!

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