Oxbow's Preakness pace wasn't soft

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

May 24th, 2013

 Before Preakness, Oxbow had five previous races where at least one of those ratings (the E1 or E2) was 95+, and he lost all five of those races. In the Preakness, however, Oxbow popped a 96-105 en route to a victory in which he closed with a 114 rating. 

I have a hard time calling Oxbow's Preakness pace "soft" or "easy" given that he ran faster than he had ever run before when winning yet this time still won. Plenty of credit for that is due to Racing Hall of Fame connections trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens, who pushed the envelope just enough to get the best out of Oxbow at all points of call (114 LP rating!). Lukas tipped his hand all week, saying that Titletown Five would absolutely NOT be on the lead, and now we know the full effect of Lukas's plan.

How does this fit into how we handicap a race? I'm a broken record on this, but successful wagering is more about determining who can win (and the chances of that happening) than it is saying who will win. I dismissed Oxbow, but there was clearly a scenario in which he would win this race, and there was some chance of that happening. With the benefit of having seen it happening, his fair odds were probably more like 9-to-1 in the thought that what happened in the Preakness probably happens 10% of the time.

There were some poor judgments on my part not to include that conclusion among my possible scenarios, but that's why Lukas and Stevens are in the Hall of Fame and I'm writing a blog about it.