I'm quite thankful that Jess Jackson has given us something to talk about other than the impossible upset of the Kentucky Derby. Not that I specifically care about who owns Rachel Alexandra. I'm happy as long as we get to see her on the track. The real benefit of this purchase is that it lures fans away from the sometimes morbid blow by blow reflection of the past and draws them into speculation about the future.
The future is where I like to keep my focus. I'm only interested in learning about the past when it can help shape my ability to predict the future. The immediate future of racing is the build up to the Preakness and that's where I've been focusing my energies in the last few days.
Although the Preakness is as old as the Derby it's heritage is not nearly as rich. Perhaps because it's not the first race in the Triple Crown sequence and maybe because it hasn't been such a difficult race to figure out. The Derby upsets may leave us flummoxed but ultimately they add to the allure of the race.
From 1980 to the present there have been only two Preakness winners that were even more than 10/1 at the off. Deputed Testimony and Bernardini were 14/1 and 12/1 respectively. A few big longshots have run second or third but the axiom of "the best horse wins the Preakness" has generally held. 11 of the last 12 Three Year Old Champions have won the Preakness, only 7 of the last 12 champions were also Kentucky Derby winners.
The Preakness, like many races, is continually dominated by speed. Not necessarily early speed but by horses with good tactical speed and the ability to run fast races. As with all major races I look for a potential cut off line for the speed figures by taking an average of every stakes winning Beyer Speed Figure earned by a member of the field in the current season. Horses that failed to equal or better the average for their specific running of the race went 37-0-3-3 in the Preakness from 2000 to the present.
This field is in it's early stages of development but obviously the presence of Rachel Alexandra makes it a much tougher race to win. The required speed figure will probably be in the area of 98 depending on who stays in. That's about average compared to the required speed figures in the recent history of this race. It looks like an intriguing race but not an exceptionally fast one.