Zetterholm a live long shot at Preakness
Zetterholm a live long shot at Preakness
BALTIMORE -- The Preakness Stakes usually is the easiest and simplest classic race to handicap, but this year's running on Saturday has turned into a "very complicated"race.
That's the verdict of Jerry Brown, proprietor of the Thoro-Graph speed charts, whose opinion we always seek at this time, two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. He has taken the 3-year-old crop apart, pinpointed the contenders and unmasked the pretenders.
"Going into the Derby, the current crop looked average in terms of ability but deep,"Brown said Tuesday from his New York headquarters. "But coming out of the Derby it looks average or less in terms of ability and not so deep.
"The winner, I'll Have Another, is mediocre and Bodemeister's race looked better than it actually was. He's getting credit for hanging on for second after a fast pace, when in fact he ran his last half-mile in 52 seconds and change. He held on for second because so few horses were actually doing any running behind him."
Even so, Brown said he believes three horses stand out in the Preakness because they are, on their best days, faster than anything else in the race. The horses are Bodemeister, I'll Have Another and Creative Cause.
"If one of these three run their best, they'll probably win,"said Brown. "Creative Cause was extremely wide in the Derby and on his best is as good as the other two."
Well, what's so complicated? "There are reasons to believe that all three horses might not fire,"Brown said. "Bodemeister will be making his sixth start of the year, his third start in five weeks and he's coming off two top efforts. There's a reason why horses don't win the Triple Crown. When they make their third start in five weeks off two good efforts, they very often don't run well. He's in exactly that situation."
Brown said he is wary of I'll Have Another.
"He has a history of soundness problems,"he said. "That's why they stopped on him so early when he was two years old. Then, in the winter, he was on the vet's list at Santa Anita getting shock wave therapy for his back, which is not a positive" This horse has been given a lot of time between all his races, at least four weeks, but now he has to come back for the first time in two weeks. Whether he'll be able to throw his best shot again is anybody's guess."
Brown said he is puzzled by Creative Cause's program.
"Mike Harrington [his trainer] decided to take him back to California after the Derby, then bring him back to Baltimore,"he said. "On top of him having just two weeks rest, that horse has had two cross-country plane trips in between, so there's no telling whether he will be able to fire."
Brown said he thinks Went the Day Well might get a piece of the money but he's looking at him as a prospect later in the year.
"He was aimed for the Derby, he ran his race and they may get the same effort again but not an improved one,He needs to improve. A nice horse down the road."he said.
Is there a dark horse in the Preakness? Brown suggests Zetterholm, the long shot saddled by New York's man-about-town, Rick Dutrow Jr.
"Zetterholm's dam [Holy Wish] has thrown five consecutive really good horses and they all got better with age,"Brown said. "Zetterholm is improving rapidly. At this point, he's probably a few lengths off these other horses but it would only take one more forward move to put him right there.
"The fact that Dutrow took him out of a much softer spot last week to run in the Preakness makes me think he thinks this horse is going to run the race of his life."
Zetterholm has won three straight races - a maiden, an allowance and a small New York-bred stake. His speed figures have improved with every race.
Brown's sum-up: "I think there's a good chance one of the top three will win, but I can't figure out which one it will be, so I'll probably key a long shot and try to figure out how to hit the exotics."
The horse of the future? "Dullahan,"Brown said. "He ran third in the Derby, but if I was making a future book, I'd have Travers written all over him."
By RAY KERRISON
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