'Fresh' horses in the Preakness

The Kentucky Derby is arguably the most stressful thoroughbred race in America, and horses in the field get only a two-week rest if they run in the Preakness. So it might seem logical that horses who didn't start in the Derby would have some advantage at Pimlico by coming into the Preakness fresh. But history clearly refutes this notion.

In the past decade, 64 horses have started in the Preakness without racing in the Derby, and only two have earned a blanket of black-eyed Susans. The most recent such winner was the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009. (She had previously raced in the Kentucky Oaks, on the day before the Derby, so relative freshness did not account for her victory.)

The reason for the dominance of Kentucky Derby runners ought to be obvious. The country's best 3-year-olds almost invariably run in the Derby, and the new challengers who face them in the Preakness are usually inferior in quality. This definitely appears to be the case in 2012, when none of the new faces appear to be a serious contender. Horses since 1962 who have won the Preakness without starting in the Kentucky Derby:

Year Horse
2009 Rachel Alexandra
2006 Bernardini
2000 Red Bullet
1983 Deputed Testamony
1980 Codex
1972 Bee Bee Bee
1962 Greek Money

By Andrew Beyer - The Washington Post. Published May 16, 2012.