Closers to Watch for Preakness Potential

While the Kentucky Derby is a most coveted race, racing fans and bettors may learn something more by watching the May 7 Derby in advance of the May 21 Preakness Stakes.

Some of the horses in the Derby will make their way to Pimlico two weeks later, and there will be value to be found in some of the closers that may not fire as expected or get caught in traffic in the large 20 horse field.

Here are some thoughts on the horses that are ‘closers’ in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Note the Derby is an added distance for nearly all these horses who will have to come from behind to win the 1 ¼ mile race. Watch them along with race recaps, videos and footnotes to see what can be learned leading up to the 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes.

We’ll provide this in 2-3 parts covering three closers here.

Brody’s Cause went from maiden winner at 33-1 odds straight to the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G1) and tracked down Exaggerator in the final furlong to win last fall. He came from deep in the pack to rally and win. Earlier this month he won the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) again making up over eight lengths in the final quarter mile to win. The Giant’s Causeway colt will need a fast Derby pace and be able to work his way through many horses to make his Run for the Roses.

Creator took six races to break his maiden, but has shown rapid improvement in winning two of his last three races including the Arkansas Derby last time out. His Beyer Figures have gone from 80 to 90 to the 96 he was assigned in his Arkansas Derby score. But the race fell apart following blistering early fractions and while Creator made up 10 lengths from the three quarter pole, the final three-eighths of the Arkansas Derby was run in a slow 39.53 seconds. This Tapit Colt is still not on the talent level with some of the top Derby horses and closers and the added Derby distance is likely to work against him.

Exaggerator is a Curlin colt who exploded around the far turn into the stretch and won the Santa Anita Derby going away by over six lengths. That race was one of the stronger 100-point Derby preps, and he’s improving with a strong foundation of traveling and facing good horses. He’s won on a number of different tracks including twice in the slop and mud. Exaggerator is one of the most experienced 3-year olds with nine starts including four wins. He may try to be closer to the mid-pack than far back in the Derby, but he has the speed and versatility to make a run having registered a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in the Santa Anita Derby which was the highest of all the Derby preps. Exaggerator finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Nyquist in the San Vicente Stakes February 15, but that was 7/8 of a mile and the three additional furlongs will be to his benefit. Exaggerator will be a top-3 betting choice in the Kentucky Derby and clearly a closer to watch.

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