The old adage of the race going to the swiftest is never truer than in the second jewel of the Triple Crown and while many feel the fastest in this year’s Preakness Stakes (G1) is Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit, I feel his stablemate Concert Tour is a tad faster.
A fresh horse looking the picture of health, Concert Tour enters the Preakness very differently than the last time he raced, when finishing a somewhat weary third in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Going into that race, the colt who had previously been one of Bob Baffert’s top shelf sophomores had changed exercise riders and been somewhat erratic in his morning training. His pre-race appearance in the Arkansas Derby was not on par with his appearance prior to his triumph in the Rebel, and most importantly of all, he didn’t get the most advantageous of trips versus Caddo River, who was ridden aggressively for the lead.
Despite all the issues, Concert Tour showed heart to finish third but was consequently given a bit of time to regroup, time which has seemingly served him well. He appears stronger and more confident in his morning training, looking sensational both at Churchill and now at Pimlico and with an outside draw affords Hall of Famer Mike Smith options and opportunity to use his potent speed as the fastest horse in the race.
While Medina Spirit has to be respected off his Derby run, it’s questionable whether he can be quite as effective if he doesn’t make the lead, and one has to wonder whether such a top effort in the Derby and all the subsequent controversy ultimately takes a toll. Still, it’s doubtful anyone other than his stablemate can challenge him early and he consequently has to be respected as a major player.
While some make a case for Midnight Bourbon, who no doubt will be ridden more aggressively than two weeks ago, I offer fewer excuses for his showing in the Derby than others and see the lightly raced Crowded Trade offering more upside following almost identically the path Preakness winner Cloud Computing took a few years ago giving Chad Brown his first Triple Crown victory. Third in the Wood Memorial, Crowded Trade looks one of the primary beneficiaries of the added distance and may be stepping forward at just the right time.
1. Concert Tour
2. Crowded Trade
3. Medina Spirit
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