The Preakness at Pimlico Saturday won't be as onesided as it may appear from the list of entries.
The difference between the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago is that several of the horses who did not run in Louisville are entered here. Among the new entries is Deputed Testamony, winner of the Tesio Stakes at Pimlico in March and my choice to beat Derby winner Sunny's Halo in the Preakness.
Also entered are Bet Big, a colt who is showing almost the same pattern as Aloma's Ruler did before winning last year's Preakness, and Flag Admiral, a colt still eligible for allowance races who won nicely in another race at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
Sunny's Halo seemed to have almost everything in his favor until today's court decision allowing his main competition, Desert Wine, to run with the aid of the diuretic Lasix.
Nevertheless, Sunny's Halo is a heavy favorite, partly because of the distance--1 3/16 miles, a 16th shorter than the Derby. In the past, horses with excellent speed had an edge in the Preakness. But that advantage is not as pronounced this year because of the resurfacing of the Pimlico track over the winter. Horses who must come from behind are not as handicapped as they once were.
Still, the physical layout of Pimlico gives an edge to a speed horse like Sunny's Halo. His trainer, David Cross, is excellent at conditioning a horse, and his rider, Eddie Delahoussaye, is a proven jockey.
But I still like Deputed Testamony, who came down with a fever before the Derby and missed that race. But despite the fever and medication, he bounced back to win a stake at Keystone by four lengths. That takes a strong horse.
Bet Big has always been an extemely talented colt, but his late Florida races suggested he had problems. However, some new treatment for a troublesome splint was followed by a win in an allowance sprint and an impressive score in the Preakness Prep, a race in which jockey Roger Velez demostrated that Bet Big will take to rating. In the Preakness, Bet Big will break from the rail and will benefit many lengths in the run to and around the clubhouse turn.
Flag Admiral is former president Jimmy Carter's first horse and he appears to be a promising one. He has won only two races in a five-race career, but like so many well-bred colts, he looks like he could overcome his lack of seasoning.
As far as the running of the race, it looks like Desert Wine and Sunny's Halo will go for the early lead, with Big Bet, Deputed Testamony and a patched-up Marfa right behind.
Desert Wine should surrender after the far turn, with Deputed Testamony and Big Bet challenging turning for home. In the run to the wire, Deputed Testamony, the iron horse, will hook and pass Sunny's Halo after a furious stretch duel between jockeys Donald Miller and Delahoussaye. Desert Wine will hold on for third.
The running time should be around 1:55 3/5 if the track stays fast. The forecast is for occasional showers today.