Before my high school basketball games my mom would always do a chicken dinner for me (15 game winning streak, all five starters went on to play college ball, '81 Onondaga County league champs) as I was very superstitious not to change my ways during the streak on the way to a school record winning percentage, winning streak and cracking the NYS rankings. Of course my pregame routine also included listening to Styx and Journey on the 8-track, but that's a story for another time and place. In college, well, I can't say what I did before each game to get the nerves out, but let's say it was like clockwork. So when I heard that Ahmad Zayat was pooped on by a bird pre-Derby, (said to be good luck)...hell, after publicly punting PoTN I was spooked into using him.
Why is this relevant? Well, of course, it's not, but it makes a nice intro to discussing the lucky 13 post for Rachel Alexandra. It goes beyond all of my superstitious being to jump on number 13, but hell, she's damn good. Heck, I rocked my newborn daughter in 2003 through two Syracuse Final Four games that led to a title (no way I was letting go of that kid, sometimes the little things help). Personally, I think it's the best possible outcome for her. Just like Big Brown used in last year's Derby to swoop to a perfect tactical position into the first turn, I think this will serve RA well. It will also avoid the potential bumping and jostling she could endure with a middle post position. The other thing that benefits her is the 5 lb handicap the boys will be spotting her this afternoon. She will be carrying 121 lbs to the boys' 126. This is like giving Tiger Woods shots.
For more on supersitions, make sure you stay away from the dandelions (see third from bottom).
I still haven't decided my play yet and probably won't post it (bad luck!), but I'll tell y'all who I'm leaning towards: I think Musket Man will hit the board, PoTN should be there, too. I love Big Drama, but that could just be sentimental, as he'll be forced to take the early lead. I really like that he's got Johnny V in the irons. Could this be Gomez' day in the sun? Let's say I'll have these three in my mix come late afternoon along with the filly. I'm live in the Susan/Preakness double after Payton D'Oro finished off a winning P4 ticket for me w/MM, PoTN, RA and FF.
I gotta give props to the NTRA for not rubber stamping Pimlico with full accreditation via this week's Safety & Integrity Alliance review. While I correctly predicted an announcement this week, I was semi-shocked at the provisional accreditation. I am willing to admit when I'm wrong. I am still a little curious about Tommy Thompson's law firm, Akin Gump, (compensated?) involvement as an "observer." What, pray tell, does this mean and how does this make him independent? It appears Pimlico's shortcomings were documentation-related and not "safety-related," and they will have to adhere to a specified timetable (30 days) to cure the violations per the definition in the Code. Per the DRF article on the provisional accreditation, "Pimlico would need to "advocate" for changes to Maryland's racing laws regarding the characteristics of regulation whips and press the Maryland racing commission to begin conducting out-of-competition testing and to freeze postrace samples within the next 30 days." It was very interesting to me that the whips "issue" was completely left out of the NTRA post. Anyways, I'm satisfied that this isn't just a total PR gig.
While the big race is in Baltimore on Saturday, a fine little sprint will be taking place at Churchill Downs, the Matt Winn. I had put Cash Refund in my watch list after watching him romp on the Derby Trial Stakes undercard during my Churchill visit. He will be facing Capt. Candyman Can and three others going 7 furlongs under the twin spires. Keep an eye on this one.
Happy Preakness Day and good luck everyone!