2012 Preakness Stakes Contenders

137th Preakness Stakes Logo The 137th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) is coming up on Saturday, May 19 at Pimlico in Baltimore, Md.

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner I’ll Have Another was one of the first to arrive at Old Hilltop on Monday evening and goes into the race looking to keep the Triple Crown dream alive.

Affirmed was the last horse to sweep the three jewels of the Triple Crown, accomplishing the feat in 1978.

I’ll Have Another is not scaring anyone away at this point, as there are more than 14 runners probable for the race

The race is limited to 14 starters. There is a three tier process for being eligible to run. The first seven in graded earnings get in, followed by the four horses with the most stakes earnings (not including restricted stakes money), and the remaining prospects are based on total earnings.

Here is an early look at the contenders for the Preakness Stakes:

Bodemeister
The pacesetter in the Kentucky Derby, the colt set sharp early fractions and held on gamely for the runner up spot despite the taxing fractions. Trained by hall of famer Bob Baffert, his biggest win of his career came in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 14. He was the lone runner going into the Kentucky Derby with three consecutive triple digit Beyer Speed Figures and was sent off as the 4.20-1 betting favorite.

Brimstone Island
The colt broke his maiden for a $15,000 tag and has since improved steadily, finishing in the money in a couple of stakes at Laurel Park. In his last outing he finished second in the Canonero II at Pimlico, beaten a neck by Pretension. The colt is trained by William Campbell.

Cozzetti
The Dale Romans trainee has won just one of his seven career starts, but mixed it up along the Derby Trail this spring with a third place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent outing. The colt does not show much in the early going but does have some late kick and will need some pace to be effective over the Pimlico surface.

Creative Cause
The colt was beaten by I’ll Have Another by just a nose in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and finished less than three lengths behind the Derby winner on the first Saturday of May. The colt had to be fanned out eight wide turning for home and made up some good ground late. He is a three times graded stakes winner, including taking the Norfolk (G1) as a juvenile.

Dullahan
The Blue Grass (G1) winner over polytrack, he came into the Kentucky Derby in good shape and made a good late run to finish fourth, missing catching Bodemeister by a neck. While the Baffert runner got most of the attention for setting those fast early fractions, Dullahan seems to have been overlooked, and he ran a solid race. His late running style may get him overlooked in the Preakness. Dale Romans trains the son of Even the Score.

Hansen
The “Great White Hope” and 2011 juvenile champion came up short in the Kentucky Derby, checking in ninth at 13-1. The colt tracked the early pace in third in the Derby and just had no punch in the stretch. The Pimlico surface may be kinder to him as will the shorter distance, but this colt appears to be heading in the wrong direction.

Hierro
The Steve Asmussen trainee drew off smartly to win the Derby Trial (G3) on opening night of the Churchill Downs meeting. The colt beat the more highly regarded Baffert runner Paynter by 1 ½ lengths. The colt’s only other stakes outing was a fifth place finish in the Sham Stakes (G3) back in January.

I’ll Have Another
The Kentucky Derby winner is perfect in three starts this year, winning the Robert B. Lewis (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) in addition to the Run for the Roses. If Bodemeister is in the Preakness field, he may not go off as the favorite. His jockey Mario Gutierrez, who was second in the jockey standings at Hastings Park last year, is still unknown to many, but he has ridden this colt flawlessly in his last two starts.

Liaison
The less regarded of the two Baffert runners sent out on Derby Day, this colt outran his odds with a sixth place finish at odds of 56-1 After winning the CashCall Futurity (G1) last December this colt appeared to be one of Baffert’s top runners. However, he clipped heels and dumped the jockey in the Robert B. Lewis, and a fourth in the San Felipe and sixth in the Santa Anita Derby made him a longshot at Churchill Downs.

Optimizer
The D. Wayne Lukas trainee was a solid second in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, but was dusted in the Arkansas Derby, beaten 20 ½ lengths. He was sent off at 42-1 in the Kentucky Derby and was not much of a threat in an 11th place finish. Jockey Jon Court saved ground much of the trip and the colt did have to steady briefly turning for home, but this colt will be a longshot again in Baltimore.

Paynter
This lightly raced colt was sent off as the favorite in the Derby Trial but could not match strides late with Hierro. The Baffert trainee ran big in his debut breaking his maiden, and then was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. The colt has more upside than any coming into the Preakness.

Pretension
The colt bounced back from a ninth place finish in the Illinois Derby (G3) by winning the Canonero II over the Pimlico main track. The colt was beaten 9 ½ lengths by Hansen in the Gotham in a fifth place finish back in March. The Chris Grove runner appears to be on the improve and does have the advantage of a trip over the main track at Pimlico.

Teeth of the Dog
The colt broke his maiden in his third career start, and then was thrust into Grade 1 company in the Wood Memorial and the colt ran pretty well in a third place finish, beaten three lengths for the top spot. The two that beat him were Gemologist and Alpha, and they both put in subpar efforts in the Kentucky Derby. In his maiden score on Feb. 4 at Gulfstream Park he beat Went the Day Well, who went on to win the Spiral (G3) before checking in a late running fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

The Lumber Guy
The colt has won three of his four career starts, the lone loss a fifth place finish in the Wood Memorial. He bounced back off that loss with a sharp looking win in the Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct on April 21 going a one turn mile. The colt brings some speed to the party and still appears to have some upside potential. The colt is trained by Mike Hushion.

Went The Day Well
The connections of this colt were trying to use the same path as last year to win the Derby. Animal Kingdom had won the Spiral before taking the Run for the Roses in 2011. The colt was coming late with a good late run to finish fourth, beaten ¾ of a length by Dullahan for third. Trainer Graham Motion is no stranger to the backstretch at Pimlico and this colt should be a major player in the Preakness.

Zetterholm
The colt will come into Baltimore riding a three race win streak but will certainly get a class test. He made his stakes debut last out in the Patsyprospect Stakes at Aqueduct on April 6 where the colt came with a four wide run to catch the leader Sportswriter in the stretch and drew off under a hand ride to win by 2 ¼ lengths in the field of five. The Rick Dutrow runner will face much tougher in the Preakness.

Michael Dempsey’s Preakness Day Report
Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Preakness Day card.

Michael is a Maryland bred who cut his teeth on the Pimlico backstretch as a horse owner, handicapper, and gambler on the Maryland circuit for decades.

The second jewel of the Triple Crown will be run on Saturday May 19 at Pimlico. The big day of racing has five supporting stakes including the $150,000 Gallorette Handicap and the $100,000 Allare Dupont Distaff Stakes.

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