• Preakness a classic struggle between pace, figure, & class handicapping

    POSTED May 18, 2012
    Bodemeister is one of the most polarizing favorites of a major stakes race in quite some time.

    As the 8-to-5 morning line favorite in the Preakness Stakes, we're not talking about lukewarm or mild favorite either. This is a horse who many expect to win the middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and even has respected national handicappers such as Andy Beyer and Bill Finley--two guys not afraid to go against chalk--firmly in the Derby runner-up's corner.

    He has his detractors, of course, but what makes him so polarizing is that many of those who don't like his chances to win (as I don't) also don't necessarily even like him to hit the board. I'm playing the race for Creative Cause, I'll Have Another, or Went the Day Well to win the Preakness. I'll press on that trio in second as well and also include Cozetti, Tiger Walk, and Zetterholm underneath.

    Why no Bodemeister for me while others love him even as the favorite? Well, style of handicapping may play a role.

    If you're a pace handicapper and a fan of cliches, then Bodemeister hits you right between the eyes. If he's not lone speed in this heat, then he's certain to at least be speed of the speed. He shook off Trinniberg and ran champion Hansen off his feet in the Derby, and no one in this race appears to posses that kind of early foot. If anyone does challenge Bodemeister in the first half-mile he is doing so at his own peril.

    But lone speed still has to finish the race. It took a perfect trip for I'll Have Another to catch Bodemeister in the Derby, but the figure handicapper in me says that Bodemeister's effort is neither as impressive as his fast fractions have some believing nor is it an indication of what to expect in the Preakness.

    Bodemeister regressed in the Derby. It just wasn't as fast a race as the Arkansas Derby, and while the raw speed was second best, most figure makers didn't rate his Derby performance among the top three.

    From a form cycle stand point, the Derby WAS the bounce. Some are asking whether Bodemeister will bounce in the Preakness. Well, he already bounced in the Derby. The real question is if he maintains that form or moves even further backward. If the former then he could win this race about 20%-25% of the time making 4-to-1 fair value, but if it's the latter then he is a longshot to win and even 4-to-1 would be an underlay.

    All that is to say that 8-to-5 is too short for me, and I'm leaning in the figure handicapping camp more than the pace one.

    But what of class handicapping? Before the figure renaissance one of the most prevalent forms of handicapping was to assess who beat who and by how much. Bodemeister's two wins have come by a combined 18 3/4 lengths, but his last two losses were both second-place efforts to fellow Preakness entrants Creative Cause and I'll Have Another.

    I made the mistake of betting Summer Applause in the Oaks only to watch the filly who beat her last time out--Believe You Can--win again, and it's not a mistake I plan to repeat in the Preakness on an 8-to-5 shot.

    So you know who I don't like and who I'd like to see win, but let's cut to the chase and see who Toga Tout picks.


    rguillermo.j said...

    went the day well,first,...bodemeister,creative cause,I'll have another....maybe fights,...2nd,3...and 4...

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