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Experts look at Preakness



Thoroughbred handicappers Bob Neumeier, an analyst from New England, and Mike Battaglia, who sets morning line odds for Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Turfway Park, provided their thoughts on the Preakness in separate interviews with NBC Sports. Their comments follow:

THE PREAKNESS ACCORDING TO NEUMEIER: “Orb will not be as far back as he was in the Derby. There are fewer horses, probably a less frenetic pace, so I think you’ll see him in the neighborhood between five and ten lengths back halfway through the race, which is fine. That’s kind of where he wants to be. There are a number of early speed horses that will set him up. It actually sets up perfectly for him and barring something crazy, he’s by far the horse to beat. I think he’s going to go off the in the neighborhood of even money or 4 to 5.”

BATTAGLIA ON ORB: “What makes him so attractive as a Triple Crown candidate is that he is not a one dimensional horse. You have to be more than a one dimensional horse to win the Triple Crown, and he’s proven that already. The pace scenario is not going to be as important to me in the Preakness, because I think he can adapt to anything. What I like so much about Orb is how tactical he is. In the Florida Derby, when the pace was slow, he was right there, just off the pack, made his move, and won impressively. When the pace is fast, like in the Kentucky Derby, he can stay back and then make his move.”

NEUMEIER ON ORB: “We know that anything is possible in racing, any number of things can happen. He could stumble or he gets an injury between now and then, or something happens in a race like he gets blocked or steadied or cut off, there are a million things. His jockey gets tossed out of the gate, that’s always possible. But barring something untoward, I fully expect him to win the Preakness.”

BATTAGLIA ON ORB’S CHANCES AT THE TRIPLE CROWN: “ This horse has really nice Triple Crown possibilities about him. He’s just so versatile and he’s so good right now. I love the fact that he’s on the five-race win streak and he just keeps getting better. And every race has been better than the last one. His trainer, Shug McGaughey, is such a good horseman. If there’s anybody that can keep a horse ready in five weeks, it’s Shug. This horse has a legitimate chance to win the Triple Crown.”

NEUMEIER ON THE Vegas LINE ON ORB TO WIN THE TRIPLE CROWN: “I see that Vegas has posted 3:1 odds that he will win the Triple Crown, which is a lot of respect for Orb considering nobody’s won since 1978. It would be hard for me to bet on that, but it speaks for itself that they’re only putting it at 3:1. People want to jump on it, feel free. I hope he does it.”

BATTAGLIA ON THE NEW SHOOTERS ( Horses in the Preakness that didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby): “The Illinois Derby has been a key race and I thought Departing ran a hell of a race, so I definitely think he’s a contender as a new shooter. Governor Charlie is an interesting new shooter too just because of his speed and because of (trainer Bob) Baffert. But he had that bruise on his foot and he didn’t make the Derby. I just think he’s kind of iffy so I’m probably going to stay away from him. And I think that Baffert will have Titletown Five on the lead.”

NEUMEIER ON ‘NEW SHOOTER’ DEPARTING: “Departing is a cut below some of the top three horses. But he will go in to the race with some confidence after winning the Illinois Derby, so I’d definitely put him in the mix. I don’t think he’s in the class of Orb by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that if you’re looking at a range of maybe four or five horses that I would put behind Orb, he would be one of them for sure.”

BATTAGLIA ON IT’S MY LUCKY DAY: “It’s My Lucky Day is going to improve. For whatever the reason, he didn’t handle the mud (at the Kentucky Derby). I like the way he trained up to the Derby, and he’s getting Johnny Velasquez aboard, and that’s a big plus for him. With Velazquez up, and throwing out the race in the mud, he could be really dangerous. I like the way he ran behind Orb in the Florida Derby. I thought that was a big effort and I’m thinking that he’s going to show a little better than he did last time in the mud.

BATTAGLIA ON WILL TAKE CHARGE: “Will Take Charge was flying in the Kentucky Derby. He was making a move right next to Orb, and Verrazano was getting tired. Verrazano stopped, ducked out right in front of Will Take Charge, and Jon Court had to check up Will Take Charge. This horse was really making a nice late run and he got absolutely slaughtered. I think he’s a nice longshot possibility.”



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