A Cat’s 2019 Preakness Picks

By Adele

Stewards who threw the Kentucky Derby to 2nd-place finisher Country House flushed this year’s Triple Crown season down the toilet, but I’m pressing on to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

Since the Derby, many in the racing community have worked up a righteous lather to justify humiliating Maximum Security by disqualifying his legitimate win. You’d think Max ran the race with switchblades on his shoes and cut every horse who dared get too close.

Adding further insult, Max’s jockey, Luis Saez, got belatedly suspended for 15 racing days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course.” Yeah, whatever.

A typical suspension is about three days, so Saez is appealing it. But as it stands, the Belmont Stakes on June 8 is conveniently one of the dates he’s forbidden to ride.

Max’s owners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Derby stewards and members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming his disqualification was unconstitutional because the Commission denies due process by claiming stewards’ decisions are final. Apparently, other states, like Louisiana, don’t share this “stewards are gods” stance.

But since neither Max nor Country House are in the Preakness tomorrow, all this human acid reflux is moot.

The Preakness field is only 13 horses. Let’s hope the track dries out (it’s been raining all week), they all keep to themselves and run straight as arrows so those stewards don’t get their panties in a bunch.

War of Will — whom Max allegedly tangled legs with to cause a massive chain reaction, the stewards alleged, that affected nearly every horse EXCEPT Country House — will be in post position 1 under the same jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. He ran 7th in the Derby, but is the second favorite with 4-1 odds. With Max out of the picture, this is War’s chance to show us he can do it.

Also running again is Improbable (new jockey, Mike Smith, 5-2, pp 4). He was one of my picks for the Derby and came in 4th, so I hope he places.

My pick to win is Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno, 8-1, pp 7). He wasn’t in the Derby, but has won his previous six races, so he’s accustomed to being out front. And, he’s trained by Kelly Rubley, who would be the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Alwaysmining (Photo: Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun)

The only other horses back for more are Bodexpress (new jockey, John Velazquez, 20-1, pp 9, ran 13th in the Derby) and Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel, 15-1, pp 13, ran 9th in the Derby). The rest of the field is fresh horsefaces.

BONUS: Here’s WaPo’s long-time horse racing columnist Andrew Beyer’s take on the Kentucky Derby and why disqualifying Max based on what might have happened rather than what actually went down was dumb.

9 Responses to A Cat’s 2019 Preakness Picks

  1. Adele Prass says:

    Adele, I’ll go with your pick for the Preakness, because I like the idea of a female trained horse winning a big race. But more than that, seeing you still picking the ponies gives me a great sense of peace in this otherwise terrifying and topsy turvy world.

    BTW, I don’t know if Karen follows Instagram, but a day or so after Mother’s Day, Ottavia posted a pic of a card that Ariane had made for her. The kid’s got some serious artistic chops. If only her dad were around to see how she’s growing . . .

  2. Bonnie C. says:

    While I definitely do not want to lock horns with “Adele”, I don’t have any issue at all with what the stewards saw & decided upon in the Derby.

    For starters, although not ardent race fans, both my husband & I saw the bumps/interference/whatever-you-want-to-call them & I even said to him at the time that we wouldn’t have been the only ones who saw that. And I give kudos to the jockeys/trainers/owners who had the cajones to speak up, even if it was a prestigious race. As one of the owners said to the press, if this had been a minor claiming race there would have been no contest whatsoever about the disqualification, but because it was the Derby, everyone has their panties in a wad.

    Does anyone have any idea what kind of catastrophic accidents can be caused by bumps/drifts like that. While perhaps the jockey was caught off-guard & couldn’t prevent the bump/drift in time to avoid the interference, the ultimate outcome was that he didn’t properly control his mount. Period. End of story.

    This particular Triple Crown does seem to be cursed in some way. If you watched the race, one of the jockeys was thrown right out of the gate, & for a moment it looked like there would be some sort of objection made against the poor gate guy who, via playback, looked to be still holding the horse when the gates opened.

    Hopefully the Belmont will be without any drama.

  3. catsworking says:

    Adele, we saw the card. Karen thinks she sees a bit of Bourdain in Ariane’s drawing style.

    Unfortunately, Alwaysmining decided he didn’t want to run in the Preakness after almost making it to the front at one point, then inexplicably fading to 11th i the end. Maybe he was distracted, like we all were, by Bodexpress, who was AMAZING! I was actually pulling for him to win so the stewards could dig themselves in deeper by disqualifying a horse who ran a clean race just because he didn’t have a jockey.

  4. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, C., we’ll have to agree to disagree. I totally agree with you that horses bumping into each other can be catastrophes. But the bottom line is that Maximum Security was penalized for what “might have” happened, not what “did” happen.

    Did any horse or rider get hurt? I guess since War of Will won the Preakness, one could say that he also would have won the Derby if that darn horse in front of him WHO WAS RUNNING FASTER from right out of the gate wasn’t in the way.

    I wish we could apply the same “what might happen” logic to Trump. He might get us into a nuclear war. He might start a war with Iran, which might disrupt oil supplies worldwide. His tariffs might tank the economy and plunge us into recession. His neocon judges might get a lot of innocent women killed trying to have an abortion. I could go on and on.

    The fair penalty for all the things Trump “might” do would be a fate more painful and horrible than anyone could imagine. But we don’t punish people for what they might do, just horses.

    Agree that this year’s Triple Crown seems to be cursed. I was very glad that Bodexpress’s jockey took his fall well and wasn’t hurt. Bodexpress looked like he was having the time of his life. They should probably consider racing horses without jockeys just to see how it turns out. The horses would really be able to show their true colors without some guy on their back with a whip calling the shots for them.

  5. muller says:

    To pursue the equestrian theme somebody needs to “rein” in Bolton.

  6. catsworking says:

    Bolton needs to be put out to pasture, pronto, before he gets us all killed.

  7. muller says:

    he’s insane

  8. Bonnie C. says:

    As a followup to the Derby disqualification brouhaha, saw this on the news this morning (can’t get it to link here, so you’ll have to cut & paste into your browser bar):

    http://a.msn.com/02/en-us/AADCiL9?ocid=se

    In essence, Jockey Saez was once again disqualified after winning a race for blocking yet another horse. This guy’s career is heading in the direction of toast.

    Once can be an accident, but TWICE in just a couple of months & on different horses??? No owner or trainer is going to want to hire him & waste time, money, & reputation on someone who either can’t ride or control a horse properly or who just doesn’t pay attention in his zest to win.

  9. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I do agree with you. Once, OK, maybe a fluke. But twice is starting a pattern. The kid needs to take some more jockey lessons.

    Poor Maximum Security, after sitting out the rest of Triple Crown season, lost the next race he ran a week or two ago.

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