Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Preakness Update

She came, she saw, she conquered, but not by much in the 134th running of the Preakness. The race was all about the fabulous filly Rachel Alexandra who became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. Under Derby winner jockey Calvin Borel she became the first horse to come from the 13 post position to win.

But the little colt Mine That Bird, the 50-1 upset winner of the Kentucky Derby once again came from last place and nearly caught Rachel losing by one length even though the Bird got caught behind a bunch of horses heading around the last turn. The little guy has the heart of a lion.

As we said in our preview article the change in the rules to not allow fans to bring their own booze could have a dramatic effect on the crowd. It did. In 2007 attendance was 121,263, in 2008 112,222 and in 2009 it dropped to 77,850, the smallest crowd since 1983, 26 years ago.

On the other hand betting was up from last year with $59 million wagered compared to $45 million last year. In other words, the attendance was down 30% while the betting was up 30% and in the end it is all about betting for the track to make money so it looks like driving out the drunks was a good thing.

Now compared to the Kentucky Derby the Preakness atendance and betting are about one half of the Derby numbers with the Derby drawing 153,563 fans and $104.6 million wagered this year.

Mine That Bird, the Derby champion had a different jockey on it than the Derby as the jockey chose to ride Rachel instead. Calvin Borel did the unthinkable, not riding a Derby champion and jumping to the filly. This has never happened before. Now he may not ride any horse in the Belmont.

Mine That Bird again suffered a humiliation as the replacement jockey who almost won the Preakness, Mike Smith, now says he will not ride the Bird in the Belmont. Since the original jockey, Corel has to wait and see if Rachel is going to enter the race he may get shut out when he could have become the first jockey to win the triple crown on different horses.

Once again there will be no triple crown champion. It will now be at least 32 years since the last champion, Affirmed, back in 1978 edged out Alydar in all three races, the most exciting finishes in history.

In Coltons Point the Preakness party moved to the Emery waterfront from the Gass Gang and after the spectacular display of hats on Derby Day, the black eyeed Susans were prominent on Preakness Day hats as the pictures show.

Guests travelled from as far as Mexico while Homeland Security Border Agents were brought in to maintain order. A good time was had by all as the two pools paid out to 12 winners, a new record. Stay tuned for a Belmont preview.

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