BALTIMORE — Graham Motion isn't in the spotlight this time. His Triple Crown dream is over, as favorite Bodemeister and Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another are the talk of Preakness week at Pimlico Race Course.
"That's fine with me," Motion said. "I'm more comfortable being under the radar."
That's exactly what Motion's horse Went the Day Well and Mike Harrington's Creative Cause are: comfortably under the radar leading up to a race that appears to have just two contenders. While the spotlight and the odds favor it being a two-horse race, the fourth- and fifth-place Derby finishers could make things interesting or even capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Barry Irwin, whose Team Valor owns Went the Day Well, envisioned a scenario in which Bodemeister and I'll Have Another burn each other out to the point where a closer can catch them.
"My horse is very adaptable. I think that's one of his biggest attributes. He can kind of do anything you want with him," Motion said. "He's a very straightforward horse. If nobody goes with the speed horse, he's not going to be too far off the pace, probably."
Bob Baffert and Doug O'Neill don't want their horses to set too hot of a pace. Bodemeister was going fast enough in the Derby that Baffert knew it wasn't going to last.
"If he breaks well, I'll Have Another, [he and Bodemeister] sort of have the same sort of style to be on the pace, close," he said. "It'll probably be maybe those two unless somebody else joins the fray or whatever. But you never know what's going to happen in the big races."
Bodemeister was made the 8-5 morning line favorite with I'll Have Another not far behind at 5-2. Went the Day Well and Creative Cause both started at 6-1, but given interest in them in the past couple days they'll likely go off at much shorter odds.
Just like Went the Day Well, things shape up nicely for Creative Cause if he can chase.
"It would be nice if somebody would soften up Bodemeiser, but I don't know if that's going to happen," Harrington said. "Maybe a couple of these new shooters will go with him. Who knows? Maybe they'll elect to take him back [Saturday]. Anything can happen in a horse race."
Kentucky Derby winners have finished first or second in the Preakness in three of the past four years. Motion called I'll Have Another "the horse to beat."
"I'll Have Another could be the horse. You never know till after the race is over," Harrington said. "That's why they run them horse races. We don't concede anything to anybody."
As Motion keeps saying, he can watch his horse over and over but he doesn't know for sure how Went the Day Well will perform in the Preakness or any other race. Same with Bodemeister, who might be purely the fastest horse in the field.
"All these horses, they come back in two weeks, if the gate comes open and they feel like running, they run," Baffert said. "If they don't feel like it, they won't run."
Bodemeister won't change his style, and neither will I'll Have Another. Ultimately, what it'll take for someone to pull off an upset is simple.
"Be fast," Harrington said.
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