Mario Gutierrez gave I’ll Have Another the ideal trip and in return, his mount offered a top class performance in the Kentucky Derby. I’ll Have Another verified he is a solid horse, and should be considered as such. Not disrespecting his solid effort, the best horses of the day did not reach the wire first, just as in many other recent installments of this legendary classic. I have held the opinion that the field should not be so large where the race is almost solely decided by luck. The top horses would benefit greatly from the field being cut down to fifteen starters at the most. No Triple Crown winner has won the Derby in a twenty-horse field. I question whether we could possibly have had a Triple Crown champion if a certain horse covered a good trip in some renewals of the Derby.
Horses such as Dullahan and Union Rags gave exceptional bids for a Derby triumph, but couldn’t get to the wire first due to their poor trip. Kent Desormeaux offered Dullahan a smart trip as he chose to take him to the outside because he wasn’t responding well to the kickback. If he had stayed nearer to the rail, Dullahan wouldn’t have given his best effort.Others who should be commended for their efforts are Bodemeister, Went the day Well, and Creative Cause. This year’s Kentucky Derby was rich with class, and it showed as the horses came down the homestretch.
Some of these aforementioned top runners in the Derby will not start in the Preakness, though Went the day Well and Creative Cause will challenge I’ll Have Another in Baltimore. The 8-5 morning line favorite, Bodemeister, will also test I’ll Have Another in his bid for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, while Dullahan and Union Rags wisely sit it out.
The Preakness is a difficult race to handicap because of the high quality. The four contenders alluded to above stand out to me as special horses – all with a great chance of winning. I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister are the obvious choices while Creative Cause and Went the Day Well will likely go off at more enticing odds.
I admire Creative Cause immensely and think he is an exceptional athlete. However, I feel that he runs best with blinkers, and continuing to start without them could hinder his efforts. His loss in the Santa Anita Derby could easily be due to running without this equipment, and I must wonder if he could have come on with a more dominant kick in the Derby if he wore blinkers.
Though I am very attracted to I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, I will be stepping out of the box to pick Went the Day Well for the win. In the Derby, he entranced me with his forceful late blast to the wire. The fact that Pimlico is in close proximity of his home base, Fair Hill, is equally appetizing.
Optimizer offered a strong eleventh place finish in the Derby and I think he may give a game effort. He showed similar potential during his second place effort behind Secret Circle in the Rebel Stakes. Optimizer gained my attention with these two solid efforts, and will be my longshot pick for the Preakness.