Okay, we are one day away from the Preakness and as opposed to the Kentucky Derby, I have decided that I should provide a pre-race preview of this race. (You might remember that I was dealing with only a brief bit of time leading up to the Kentucky Derby considering that the Derby was raced on May 3, only a short three days after the April Boycott.) Let me make one thing clear from the start; the only reason I would consider any of these horses to be any sort of a threat to Big Brown is because with the exception of Gayego, none of the other horses raced Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby, and thus have all been off since at least April 20. (That is with the exception of Macho Again who ran in a 7.5 furlong race on April 26.)
On paper and with full rest, Big Brown should crush these other horses, especially since at the Preakness, as opposed to the last two times that Big Brown has raced, Big Brown did not draw the far outside post, and thus should not have to swing so wide on the first turn. Breaking from the seven post, I would expect jockey Kent Desormeaux to take Big Brown to the lead from the start to avoid getting jumbled with the other horses. Big Brown has already shown that he can win races wire-to-wire, as he did at the Florida Derby. In the Florida Derby (March 29), Big Brown set quick fractions early and was still able to easily pull away from an overmatched field. With no real credible threats in this race, I would expect Desormeaux to set really controlled fractions early on (i.e., relatively slow fractions), daring any of the other horses to take over the lead. Big Brown appears to be talented enough that he can respond to any challenge made by these horses without wasting too much energy. Big Brown should be able to then pull away from the rest of the field when Desormeaux calls on him to do so. If you look at the recent races in which these horses have run, for all races reasonably close in length to the 9.5 furlongs the horses will run on Saturday (so I'm excluding Macho Again's 7.5 furlong race), all of Big Brown's competitors were fighting to the very end to run times that were inferior to the times that Big Brown ran at both the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby where in each case he had more to give if needed. Big Brown should not have much trouble winning this race.
As for the rest of the field, originally I was going to pick Behindatthebar for second and Yankee Bravo for third, but with the scratch of Behindatthebar, I'm promoting Yankee Bravo up to second and moving Gayego into third position.