Spot open for favorite Rachel Alexandra to run at Preakness

A spot has opened for odds favorite Rachel Alexandra to run in the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes, ironically thanks to the owner of Triple Crown contender Mine That Bird.

Mine That Bird owner Mark Allen said Monday he wouldn’t enter colt Indy Express into the second jewel of the Triple Crown. That clears the way for the Kentucky Oaks winner to enter the field of 14 for Saturday’s race at Pimlico.

Allen had considered entering Indy Express — winless in nine career starts — over the weekend to take a spot from Rachel Alexandra, but he reconsidered after talking to Mine That Bird trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. and co-owner Leonard Blach.

The race is limited to 14 starters, with preference given to those already pre-nominated to the Triple Crown.

Good for Allen. He would have been vilified had he entered a winless Indy Express just so that Rachel Alexandra (Mine That Bird’s chief competition) couldn’t run in the Preakness.

Rachel Alexandra has been flawless so far in 2009, winning seven of her last nine races. She would add a little excitement to the Preakness, especially after Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago despite being a 50/1 long shot.

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Mine That Bird will run in Preakness Stakes

Despite reports that stated he could miss the second leg of the Triple Crown, 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will run in the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes on May 16.

Trainer Chip Woolley had wavered because the mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness at Pimlico racecourse on May 16 is the shortest of the Triple Crown races and Mine That Bird performs better at longer distances.

“You cannot have a Triple Crown winner without having the Derby winner in the Preakness,” Woolley told the Pimlico racecourse website (www.pimlico.com).

“That played into our decision but the horse looks super. I have never been to Baltimore, but it looks like I won’t be able to say that in a few days.”

Kentucky-bred Mine that Bird, a 50-1 longshot ridden by Calvin Borel, won the Derby Saturday by 6 3/4 lengths, one of the biggest upsets in America’s most celebrated race.

The sport of horse racing would have taken a huge hit had Woolley pulled Mine That Bird from the Preakness Stakes – especially considering how much of a long shot winner Mine That Bird was at the Kentucky Derby.

The Triple Crown is such a rare feat in sports and just like Big Brown last year, it’s fun to get behind a horse that’s in the running for it. Hopefully Woolley doesn’t pull an about-face and pull Mine That Bird leading up to the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby 135 Predictions

I know absolutely nothing about horse racing, although I did watch closely as Big Brown’s bid to become the next Triple Crown winner come up short last year, so I firmly believe that I am more than qualified to make predictions on the sport.

The 135th running of the Kentucky Derby is today, with post time set for approximately 6:04 p.m. ET. The biggest news coming out of Churchill Downs is that the favorite, I Want Revenge, was scratched from today’s race because of a foot injury. Ironically, Quality Road, who was the favorite before I Want Revenge, was also scratched for the race last week due to a foot injury himself.

Here are the 2009 Kentucky Derby Odds:

Advice 25/1
Atomic Rain 50/1
Chocolate Candy 8/1
Desert Party 10/1
Dunkirk 4/1
Flying Private 50/1
Friesan Fire 4/1
General Quarters 5/1
Hold Me Back 12/1
Join In The Dance 50/1
Mine That Bird 50/1
Mr Hot Stuff 30/1
Musket Man 25/1
Nowhere To Hide 50/1
Papa Clem 12/1
Pioneerof the Nile 4.5/1
Regal Ransom 15/1
Summer Bird 30/1
West Side Bernie 40/1

Here are my shot in the dark predictions:

Win: Pioneerof the Nile
Pioneerof the Nile has finished first in all three of his 2009 outings, including a victory at the Santa Anita Derby on February 5. He also placed first in his final race of 2008 at the CashCall Futurity in Hollywood Park.

Place: Friesan Fire
I’m a little concerned because Friesan Fire hasn’t raced since March 14, but he’s been on fire (pun definitely intended in the cheesiest way possible) lately, winning all three of his last three races and placing second in his final race of 2008.

Show: Musket Man
Call this my deep sleeper of this year’s Kentucky Derby. M-Squared has placed first in five of his last six outings, including a victory at the Illinois Derby in Hawthorne on February 4. He’s a 25/1 long shot, but I see a lot of potential in this colt’s hindquarters.

Those are my picks. Avoid them at all cost.

Blogging the Bloggers: Derby systems and the next Marcus Vick

– With the 2009 Kentucky Derby set to run this Saturday, THE LOVE OF SPORTS puts together a betting system that admittedly, probably won’t work. (But God love ‘em for trying.)

THE BIG LEAD details the heartless act of the Baltimore Sun, who fired two writers who were in the middle of covering an Orioles’ game from the press box – and by phone, no less.

SPORTSbyBROOKS.COM details the story of Angelo Hadley, a top football recruit for North Carolina who recently helped his brothers burglarize a 14-year old girl’s home while he had sex with her. Looks like young Angelo is on the Marcus Vick-plan of success.

AWFUL ANNOUNCING has the lowdown on Jerome Bettis reportedly being out at NBC.

YARDBARKER shares that Jose Canseco is set to fight in the professional MMA ‘Super Hulk’ tournament…whatever that is.

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