The only question mark for handicappers analyzing Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico is the condition of California invader Codex.
Genuine Risk is a gem of consistency, her only loss coming when she was short of a top effort in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. She won the Kentucky Derby with authority.
Jaklin Klugman is a known factor. His record of seven wins in 11 starts against good horses stamps him genuine. His seven-furlong mark of 1:20 4/5 at Santa Anita in the Breeders Championship proves he can run, and his close finish in the Kentucky Derby may not have been his best race. The way he has been sharpened for this race, plus his overall record, says he is a serious contender.
Codex was an in-and-outer until mid-March when his trainer, Wayne Lukas, a man who has won at almost everything he has tried, decided to let up on his hard training of the son of Arts And Letters. That conservation of energy seemed to work miracles. Codex, a mediocre winner at $25,000 last year, suddenly developed into a premier runner in three smashing races.
Lukas says unequivocally that the three five-furlong workouts his colt has had since April 13 are enough to put him right for the Preakness. Codex looks and acts like a race horse.
Colonel Moran has not proven he is an authentic contender around two turns. His record of six wins in 10 starts says he belongs with good horses but his strong suit, speed, will be weakened by a speedy horse named Knight Landing. On the credit side, Colonel Moran gets Bute today and that could help, since he appeared scratchy while winning the Withers two weeks ago.
Of the longshots, Samoyed, a winner of only $33,000 in a nine-race career, seems to have the best chance. The gray son of Bold Commander has improved steadily for trainer Judith Zouck and the figures, with his added weight, say that he is only five lengths behind the top three contenders.
In the race, Knight Landing and Colonel Moran should go for the early lead with Jaklin Klugman and Genuine Risk right behind. Codex will have good position.
The real racing should begin at the far turn where the three contenders, Genuine Risk, Codex and Jaklin Klugman, will be asked for steam.
In the stretch it will be Genuine Risk with Codex and Jaklin Klugman charging at her -- too late.
It then is on to the Belmont and incredible glory for this chestnut daughter of destiny.