|Royal Delta (c) Wendy Wooley/EquiSport|
|Shackleford Holds off Animal Kingdom |
(c) Wendy Wooley/EquiSport
Animal Kingdom ran pretty much the exact same race he did in the Derby, and earned the same 103 Beyer. It was a nice effort and validated his 20-1 upset performance, but it also proved that he isn't a super horse or worthy of a Triple Crown. He's a solid and versatile runner in a very poor crop who has probably achieved more than he should have on the wrong surface because he has a talent edge on his competition. I don't like his chances in the Belmont relative to what his odds figure to be, but I don't see why he shouldn't go if he's doing well. That race is certainly right up his alley distance wise.
Astrology ran a better race than I was expecting, but he could not have had an easier trip. He saved all the ground while drafting behind the frontrunners, and while he earned a 101 Beyer Figure--a new top for him--he also proved that he's a cut below the best of his generation. If he was anywhere close to the top two in ability, he would have won with that set-up. He won't go on to the Belmont and looks to be pointing for the Haskell and/or Travers and, without knowing who he will be facing in those spots, I plan on taking a somewhat negative view on him. Once again, Dialed In came with too little, too late. He paired his 97 Beyer top, but was never a danger to win. Perhaps he was just looked better because he facing much weaker competition in the Holy Bull, but I still don't think he has reproduced anything close to that effort since he's been stretched out in distance. Shackleford's win and Dialed In's two disappointments also dispel the misinformed notion that Gulfstream was speed-favoring on Florida Derby day. As a bettor, I hope Dialed In returns for the Belmont, where misnomers about more ground being better for closers will drive down his odds despite his obvious distance limitations. As a fan, I wish the Met Mile wasn't so soon, because Dialed In is made for a race like that.
My two value keys--Dance City and Sway Away--were two of the most poorly behaved Preakness contestants in the post parade. Dance City refused to go in the gate, reminiscent of fellow Evans homebred Quality Road before the 2009 BC Classic, and made a mild four-wide move on the turn before flattening. Maybe he doesn't want to go this far or wants to be closer to the pace. I hope he'll eventually try turf, as he's bred to prefer that surface. Sway Away was extremely washed out before the race and looked very sluggish as soon as he left the gate. He just wasn't himself, and I don't think anything can be gleaned from his non-effort. It's still entirely possible that he's a one-turn horse, but there was nothing from Saturday to sway opinions one way or the other--he just ran a complete clunker.
While the 3-year-old action cools off for the next few weeks, Monday's Met Mile is looking like it will be another deep and contentious renewal. Check back here later in the week for a preview.