Hot List: Preakness Stakes

May, 16, 2013

This weekend's race, Saturday, May 18

The Preakness Stakes, Pimlico

There's a natural tendency to discount a victory in the mud, especially in a race as prestigious as the Kentucky Derby. Some horses, even champions, have a deep disdain for a wet surface, allowing something completely unfathomable to happen in those races. Yet for every Mine That Bird there is a Smarty Jones, and Orb falls more in line with the 2004 Derby-Preakness winner than the "Bird" who never won another race after taking the Derby at 50-1 odds in the slop. Orb was the division leader heading into the Derby and remains on top heading into the Preakness. He most likely will not benefit from a blistering pace like he did in the Derby, but he faces a weaker bunch in the Preakness and gets solid support as our A List selection. Hoping for half of what he paid to win at Churchill Downs is extremely wishful thinking -- a third is more like it -- so exotics loom as the best avenue for generating a decent payday. Will Take Charge could add some value in that regard. Though eighth in the Derby, he had some traffic issues in the stretch and probably didn't care for the wet track, earning him a spot on the B List. On a dry surface, a repeat of his effort in the Rebel makes him a strong contender for a share of the purse. Itsmyluckyday is much a much better horse than he showed in the Derby, when he was 15th. We'll guess that the brutal pace and wet track staggered him with a 1-2 punch and hope that he turns in a more representative showing at Pimlico. Mylute turned in a decent effort to finish fifth in the Derby. While he may not be good enough to avenge that loss to Orb, he deserves inclusion in the exotics.

Last weekend's races

The Peter Pan, Belmont Park

Normally, a 13¼-length victory in the Peter Pan would stamp a late-developing 3-year-old as a serious Belmont Stakes contender, but Mother Nature dampened our enthusiasm for Freedom Child. As easily as he won, because it happened on a sloppy track and several of the top threats in the race scratched out, we'll pass on lettering him -- unless good ol' Mom turns Belmont's main track into a swimming pool for the final leg of the Triple Crown. Because of the sloppy, sealed racetrack, it's difficult to draw conclusions about any of the horses that finished behind Freedom Child, but Fear the Kitten (sixth) and Infinite Magic (ninth) would be wise to stick with turf/synthetics -- or at the very least steer clear of mud.

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Hot List Key

A List: A preferred horse to watch
B List: Secondary horse to watch
*C List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 1st through 3rd
*D List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 4th or worse
* minus-4 or more betting notches if 11-1 or more.

Do you have questions? Email Bob at

• Bob Ehalt grew up a few furlongs from Belmont Park and has followed horse racing as a fan, turf writer or owner since 1971.
• Has won three Associated Press Sports Editors awards and was the recipient of the '09 Breeders' Cup media award for outstanding social media.



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