Bill Finley wrote today for ESPN that Shackleford's Preakness win defies explanation. Say what? It shows he understood--and understands--almost nothing about how well Shackleford was doing going into the Preakness.
"If you know anything about horse racing you knew Shackleford had no chance to win the Preakness," Finley wrote. "At least that's what this 'expert' and most 'experts' thought.... He stunk in the Derby.... Sometimes the outcomes of horse races defy explanation."
Not so fast. Shackleford was doing great before the Preakness, and his Derby did not stink.
Here's what the undersigned wrote--before the Preakness--about Shackleford's chances. "Shackleford is doing better now than he was before the Kentucky Derby, and he was doing very well then. He was my top pick in the Derby, and when he hit the eighth pole in front, I was shouting "Come on!" from the rooftop at Churchill Downs. He was beaten only a length for second in the Derby, and he will be running a sixteenth-mile shorter this Saturday.... So that's eight horses that could provide early speed. Of these, I like Shackleford the best."
I picked Shackleford second in the Preakness--I had Dialed In in the top spot. But Shackleford's win was no fluke. He was doing well going into the race, and his win definitely does not defy explanation--either before or after the race.
Now let's see how things go in the Belmont. With due deference to Finley, an experienced pundit, it IS a tough game to figure out, and good luck to him--and you and me--in the next leg of the Triple Crown.
--By Dick Downey