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The Preakness Challenge

Updated: May 17

I will spare you my best Preakness story, it didn't involve picking the winner but more of aiding and abetting, Sway Away's owner in 2011, pilfering a sign with his horse name on it, the details of excavating it from the turf and then carrying the mahometh sign thru the grandstand, nearly taking out windows we shall pass on, of course, the owner was inebriated, and just 'Swaying Away', but that's a story for another time.


Update: I was told the owners wife was ticked, as he planted the sign in the yard. Not everyone was pleased with that whole thing, you have to understand the sign was about eight eight feet tall, but let's chat about the Preakness.


The Preakness over the years has a lot of myth surrounding it.


There has been 36 Derby-Preakness winners since 1919, of those 36, 13 went on to win the Triple Crown, that's right 36%.


The amazing stat is 34% of Derby winners won the Preakness, which can be viewed as 66% didn't. It mirrors the favorites consistent statistic in the industry.


I like to follow horses that have run in the Derby, but in the last few years, those who skipped it have prospered.


In 2023, National Treasure, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Preakness in one of the weakest, In my Opinion, Preakness in recent years, Treasure held off Blazing Sevens, trained by Chad Brown in the lane. 'Sevens, the winner of the Champagne at 2, was not a winner as a 3yo and finally won an allowance race in April for his first win since juvenile season as a 4 year old. National Treasure had skipped the Derby


2022, saw Chad Brown win with also a speed horse, Early Voting, whom held off an unlucky, troubled, Epicenter. Early Voting only raced twice after the Preakness victory and never won again. Early Voting was also fresh coming into the Preakness having skipped the Derby.


2021, it was Rombauer, another who skipped the Derby, and proved victorious in the Preakness Stakes, he faced the now disqualfied derby winner, the late, Medina Spirit. You guessed it, Rombauer didn't win another race and was retired after Belmont Stakes.


2020, the Covid year, a filly, Swiss Skydiver won the Preakness Stakes run on October 3 that crazy year, beating the Derby winner Authentic in a thrilling stretch duel. Swiss had not raced in the Derby and had finished 3rd in the Oaks at Churchill, 2 weeks before.


Swiss' only raced 5 more times and won a Stakes at Santa Anita in March of 2021 before retiring.


2019, the entire Kentucky Derby scene was a cluster fruck, Maximum Security was disqualified, for an incident involving War of Will the eventual Preakness winner. Country House moved up via DQ, never to race again.


War of Will won the Preakness Stakes and after it showed signs of stringhalt.


Stringhalt is a gait abnormality characterized by exaggerated upward flexion of the hindlimb that occurs at every stride at walk.


War Of Will seemed to be high stepping with hind leg after the race.


'Will only won once more on the turf, in the Maker's Mark at Keeneland in last start a year later


Justify won the Preakness in 2018, in a driving rain, and went on to win the Triple Crown.


2017, Chad Brown got his first Triple Crown winner, Cloud Computing, beating Derby winner Always Dreaming, who was awful that third Saturday in May.


Cloud Computing had skipped the Derby after 3rd place finish in the Wood Memorial.


'Computing raced two more times, no wins, after the Preakness and was retired.


In 2016, Exaggerator won the Preakness after finishing behind Nyquist on the first Saturday in May. Nyquist was well beaten in the Preakness.


Looking back at the last 8 years, one thing that is for certain, skipping the Derby is sexy and seems to be Preakness gold.


Five times since 2016 the winner of the Preakness skipped the Derby.


Why is that?


I believe its the overall strength of the Derby itself, and relative weak competition in the Preakness combined.


the last two Derbies, on the first Saturday in May were absolute meltdowns.


In 2023, Mage got the last run on a Derby field that was going the last six furlong around 1:15.3. (that's from the half mile to the wire: 45.73 to 2:01.57, even last 1/4 was slow in 25.51.


In 2024, Mystic Dan, got thru at every checkpoint, taking the opportunity of another melt down and took advantage of the last six furlongs run in 116 and change while the main contender Sierra Leone was swaying away the length of the stretch.


It is apparent that in the last two Derby fields they have come home like the Sway Away's owner back in 2011, at least he got to take that momento back home.

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