Saturday, May 18, 2013

Preakness Stakes 2013: If the Track Is Muddy


Two weeks ago, a sloppy track for the Kentucky Derby (GI) was inevitable. The rain gushed from the sky all day long, transforming the fast dirt track at Churchill Downs into an oval of mud. This off-going was not an issue for Orb, who would win the Run for the Roses in a seemingly effortless manner, but did play a role in the poor performances of other quality athletes. Among these athletes were Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday, who pursued the Preakness Stakes (GI) two weeks later with hopes of encountering a fairer racing surface.

But dark clouds hang over Old Hilltop today, haunting the also-rans of the Kentucky Derby. Although Weather.com currently reports that there is no chance of rain at post time (6:20 P.M. EDT), a small amount of rain has fallen upon Pimlico throughout the day and it could rain more prior to post.

Should it rain more, causing an off-track, how will each of the Preakness contenders fare? Listed below are all of the horses entered to run in today’s Preakness, along with descriptions of the mud influences in their pedigrees and their previous runs in the mud, if they exist. The runners are listed in post position order. For my main analysis of the Preakness field, please click here.

1. Orb: The Kentucky Derby winner is clearly proven over off-going, having won the Run for the Roses by 2 ½ lengths over a sloppy track. His grandsire, A.P. Indy, is hidden mud influence and his sire’s broodmare sire is top mud influence in Mr. Prospector, a horse Orb is inbred to 3 X 4. The sire of Orb’s dam sire is Fappiano and the colt also traces back to Damascus, both of which are major off-track influences. His fifth generation is also home to the influential mud horses Buckpasser and In Reality. Orb’s dam, Lady Liberty, was third – beaten less than 2 lengths – in one of her two starts over a sloppy track and won an allowance over a good track. In her other try over an off-track, she finished last of five, but her loss was more of a matter of being outclassed than not handling the track.

Should the track become muddy or sloppy, Orb should have an even greater advantage.

Orb
Photo by Brittlan Wall

2. Goldencents: This colt’s grandsire, Harlan’s Holiday, won a grade three over a “wet fast” track and his dam’s grandsire, Forty Niner, has proven to be rather impactful in the pedigrees of mud horses, being a son of Mr. Prospector. In his fifth generation, you can find His Majesty, a strong mud influence.

Goldencents’ pedigree does not scream mud and neither does his performance in the Kentucky Derby. On the first Saturday of May, Goldencents did not take to the track and was eased as he finished seventeenth.

3. Titletown Five: This longshot is a grandson of Cee’s Tizzy through his sire, Tiznow. Cee’s Tizzy is a hidden mud influence, being a grandson of In Reality – a major force in the pedigree of mudders. This colt’s dam won a pair of group ones in the mud.

Titletown Five contested over a sloppy track in his second start, in which he finished a weak fourth.

4. Departing: This colt’s sire, War Front, was a romping winner in the slop when breaking his maiden. Major mud influence Fappiano is the sire of War Front’s broodmare sire. Mr. Prospector, one of the most renowned mud influences in the breed, appears three times in the first five generations of Departing’s pedigree, including through Forty Niner.

Departing has a strong mud pedigree but has only competed over a fast track.

Departing
Photo by Brittlan Wall

5. Mylute: This colt is bred very well for the mud, as his sire Midnight Lute was not only a winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) in the slop, but Mylute is a descendant of the Fappiano sire line. The presence of Deputy Minister on the top side of his pedigree is beneficial, as is his 5 X 4 inbreeding to top mud influence In Reality.

Mylute’s only start over an off-track was in the Kentucky Derby, in which he closed to finish a strong fifth.

6. Oxbow: This colt’s sire, Awesome Again, was a winner in the slop and is a son of mud influence Deputy Minister. His broodmare sire, Cee’s Tizzy, is a hidden mud influence, being a grandson of In Reality – a major force in the pedigree of mudders. Also, like In Reality, Mr. Prospector – known for having a large impact on horses in the slop – resides in Oxbow’s third generation.

Oxbow finished a good sixth in the Derby, but may have struggled a bit with the sloppy surface.

7. Will Take Charge: Although Will Take Charge is from the Fappiano sire line and is inbred to that mud influence 3 X 4 and is a great-grandson of Deputy Minister, he was a poor sixth over a sloppy track in the Southwest Stakes (GIII). However, a he performed well in the Derby despite having to forcefully check at the top of the stretch and rallied well over the mud to finish eighth.

8. Govenor Charlie: Like Mylute, Govenor Charlie is a son of Midnight Lute – winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) in the slop and a descendant of the Fappiano sire line. He is inbred 4 X 4 to mud influence Deputy Minister and 5 X 5 to Mr. Prospector.

Govenor Charlie has only raced on a fast track.

Govenor Charlie
Photo by Brittlan Wall

9. Itsmyluckyday: His sire, Lawyer Ron, broke his maiden on a sloppy track and his dam, a granddaughter of Seattle Slew, was a dominant winner over the slop in the biggest win of her career. Itsmyluckyday’s granddam is a daughter of Crafty Prospector, a mud influence sired by Mr. Prospector.

But despite being a son of two horses that won in the mud, as well as a horse that garnered his first stakes win over a sloppy track in a race that was taken off the turf, Itsmyluckyday performed poorly over the off-going in the Kentucky Derby, finishing fifteenth after taking no liking to the sloppy surface.


My top three picks of Orb, Departing, and Mylute will remain the same if the surface becomes muddy or sloppy. However, I will more greatly doubt Goldencents if that is the situation. Orb continues to be the horse to beat.

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