Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five reasons why Mine That Bird won't win the Preakness

Can the diminutive Derby dandy pack the same punch at Pimlico's Preakness?

Here are five pretty good reasons why the answer could be "no."

1. Girl Power: Rachel Alexandra is just too good, not just for Mine That Bird, but for all the boys.

2. Beware the Bounce: After running Beyers of 81 and 80 in his prior two races (career highs), 'Bird flew to a 105 in the slop at Churchill. The only thing set up for a bigger bounce would be the kids' new trampoline. (See free Daily Racing Form Preakness PPs.)

3. Dirty Little Secret: Mine That Bird has not run well enough over a fast dirt strip to win a Grade 1 race. All four of his wins at age 2 were on the synthetic surface at Woodbine in Canada. His unlikely Derby triumph was in the slop. His only dirt/fast efforts were the aforementioned 81/80 Beyers at Sunland, including fourth beaten almost four lengths in the ungraded Sunland Derby.

4. Borel Bails: No disrespect at all to jockey Calvin Borel; it seems he made the right choice by sticking with a potential champion filly in Rachel Alexandra, with whom he has a five-race win streak. But when the Derby-winning jockey by choice takes off that horse for the Preakness, it can't be a good sign for what he thinks of the horse's chances. O.K., so nobody's ever done it before. Doesn't that prove the point?

5. Trainer Trouble: Has anybody thought that maybe part of the reason Mine That Bird was 50-1 at Churchill wasn't just his lack of a win since October at Woodbine? Or his far-below-par Beyers? Could it maybe have been that his trainer, Bennie Woolley Jr., was previously 1-for-34 for 2009? Now that he's 2-for-35, what are the odds he can win two in a row? (Edit: Information elsewhere states that Woolley was 1-for-33 when Mine That Bird won, so he's lost since. Streak broken, new streak to begin?)

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