May 20, 2022
Derby Winner Rich Strike Wisely Wimps Out on Preakness: David Papadopoulos
(Bloomberg) -- The owners of the 80-1 upset winner of the Kentucky Derby should be applauded. They made a wise decision in skipping the Preakness Stakes on Saturday and saving Rich Strike for other races down the line.
The horse wasn’t going to win the Preakness, let alone the Triple Crown. His Derby victory was a fluke, the result of circumstance. His owners know it, the trainer knows it, the groom knows it, the jockey knows it, the hot walker knows it, heck even the horse knows it.
Ask him. He’ll tell you.
His absence in the Preakness simply means a different horse will come in sixth place. This won’t be a problem. There are plenty of mediocre types sprinkled in among the eight colts and one filly in the race to fill that role.
And they’ll all find themselves chasing the favorite Epicenter, in vain, down the stretch.
Now, this isn’t just me being bitter here about a losing bet — ok, fine, maybe a little bit — but Epicenter was by far the best in the Derby. His narrow defeat was the product of a) the suicidal early pace; and b) a critical error in judgment that led his jockey to point him at the leaders too early.
It’s hard to envision a similar pace meltdown in the Preakness. If Epicenter emerged from the Derby in good order -- and by all indications he has -- everyone else in here is running for second.
Do odds of 6-5 excite me? Ehh, not much.
So to make this thing pay a little, I’ll slide a 10-1 shot by the name of Creative Minister underneath him in a cold exacta. That horse has the look of a runner. There was a buzz about him all winter down in South Florida and he won a minor race on the Derby undercard impressively. If he can take another step forward on Saturday, he’ll be in the mix for runner-up honors.
(David Papadopoulos, a senior editor at Bloomberg News, is a voter in the thoroughbred industry’s Eclipse Awards. He has been publishing his Triple Crown picks, with decidedly mixed results, for the past decade.)
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