Railbird’s Preakness Pick

Bob (Railbird) Roberts, handicapper extraordinaire who picked winners for The Plain Dealer in a previous life, once again shares his expertise with us on the eve of the Preakness. Out of his crystal ball he pulls the name of Went the Day Well, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

He’s one of only six horses who ran in Louisville who will make the trip to Baltimore for this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. The returning steeds are I’ll Have Another (1st), Bodemeister (2nd), Went the Day Well (4th), Creative Cause (5th), Daddy Nose Best (10th) and Optimizer (11th). Eleven majestic three-year-olds are entered in the Preakness and, surprisingly, Dullahan, who finished third in the Derby, is not among them.

Without further adieu, here is the Railbird (applause):

You’re right. Dullahan, the horse who finished third in the Derby, is passing the Preakness. His connections feel he’s better suited for the Belmont Stakes.

Anyway, here you go . .. the top three Preakness picks . . .

1st — WENT THE DAY WELL — Over a Churchill Downs surface that truly favored speed horses, he rallied to make up all but 2 1/2 lengths of the 18-length deficit faced after the Kentucky Derby’s opening quarter of a mile. The stretch surge that earned him fourth money may carry him to victory in Baltimore, especially if jockey John Velazquez can place his mount closer to the pacesetters.

2nd — BODEMEISTER — Went fast and quite far in the Derby, failing to last on the lead by only 1 1/2 lengths. That said, he probably should have been able to hang on over a track that embraced front-runners. Jockey Mike Smith will probably attempt to slow the Preakness pace, but this free-running colt may not want to relax and save his energy for the stretch.

3rd — I’LL HAVE ANOTHER — The Derby winner had a dream trip in Louisville, rocketing from the No. 19 post, securing a stalk-and-strike position early, then grinding out a victory. He’s riding a three-race winning streak and just might be good enough to win the Preakness and head to New York with a shot at being the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.

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