BOZICH: Rosario's Puzzling Preakness Ride; Football Point Spread - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Rosario's Puzzling Preakness Ride; Football Point Spreads

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Joel Rosario is one of the best jockeys in the country, but he didn't ride one of his best races on Orb in the Preakness. Joel Rosario is one of the best jockeys in the country, but he didn't ride one of his best races on Orb in the Preakness.

BALTIMORE, Md. (WDRB) – Notes Written On A Canceled Belmont Reservation:

You can argue that Joel Rosario has been the best jockey in the country this year. You can also argue that Rosario delivered his worst ride when Orb finished fourth, beaten nine lengths in the Preakness Saturday.

Check the Pimlico timer again. Now check the Preakness history book. You won't believe it.

Oxbow and jockey Gary Stevens won the race from gate to wire. His winning time of 1:57.54 was more than a 1 ½ seconds slower than the performance by I'll Have Another last year. No big deal. Track and weather conditions can vary.

Keep digging: It was the slowest winning time in the Preakness since 1961, when Carry Back was timed in 1:57.60. The nine-horse field started slowly – and never got in a hurry.

From the front end, Stevens knew he was stealing the race on Oxbow because of the slow pace. Closer to the back of the pack, Rosario said he thought the pace was legitimate and the leaders would eventually return to him, as they did in the Kentucky Derby.

Never happened.

Rosario is savvy and talented. Very talented. He leads the nation with 145 wins and more than $8.6 million in purse money this year. He carries a winning percentage of 25 percent.

But Joel Rosario simply didn't ride one of his best races Saturday. He never pressed a plodding pace. He kept Orb inside in a spot where the colt never seemed comfortable and eager to move into contention.

Rosario and his fellow riders let Gary Stevens and Oxbow win the Preakness as easily as a Triple Crown race can be won.

*Now that the gap between Triple Crown winners will stretch to at least 36 years, it's time to ask the annual question:

What's the problem, guys? I'll start with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, because his win with Oxbow gives him 14 wins in the Triple Crown series – four in the Kentucky Derby, six in the Preakness and four in the Belmont Stakes.

"We're not breeding that well," Lukas said. "We're breeding them for speed and we're breeding confirmation.

"There's guys in Kentucky have figured out that the horses that sell well, the ones that they want to breed, they don't really get too concerned about step two and how they're going to turn out as race horses.

"They just want them to look good – and they breed them that way. That's good. That's the economics of it.

"The other thing is that it's a very difficult series. It's no longer a three-race series. It's about a five-race series … by the time you get to the Belmont, you've got a little wear and tear on these horses."

Bob Baffert is another trainer who once moved within an inch of a Triple Crown – and didn't get there. That was with Real Quiet in 1998, but he was also beaten in the a Triple Crown Belmont with Silver Charm in 1997 and War Emblem in 2002.

Baffert did not point a finger at breeders – or owners or trainers or the increased amount of drugs administered to this generation of horses. But he is convinced that horses are not as robust as they once were.

Baffert said that prior to one of his three Triple Crown pursuits in the Belmont, he asked turf writer Steve Haskin to research how vigorously top trainers like Lucien Lauren (Secretariat, 1973) and Laz Barrera (Affirmed, 1978) worked their colts after the Preakness.

They worked them fast – and often.

"I said, ‘Man, I can't do that. I'll have nothing left,' " Baffert said. "Those were really tough horses. They worked Secretariat 59 and change a week later. Then they worked him a mile in 35. Came back and blew him out in 59. If I do that, all I'm going to lead up there is hair and lactic acid. I'll have nothing left.

"That's why I have so much respect for those 12 horses (who have won the Triple Crown). Not only were they really fast and really good horses, yeah, they were made of iron."

*College football hype is cranking up with the release of 2013 rankings by a variety of web sites. I knew it wouldn't be long until the opening week point spreads arrived. has already delivered:

Kentucky by 3 to ruin Bobby Petrino's debut at Western Kentucky.

Louisville by 16 over Ohio University to begin the Cardinals' pursuit of a 12-0 season.

Vanderbilt by 4 ½ over Ole Miss and it's off the charts recruiting class.

Penn State by 4 over new ACC power Syracuse.

Oklahoma State by 6 ½ over Mississippi State in a Big 12-SEC staredown.

Cincinnati by 14 over Purdue and its new coach Darrell Hazell.

Notre Dame by 28 over Temple in the first game for the Fighting Irish without Manti Te'o.

Alabama by 14 over Virginia Tech as the Crimson Tech chase a three-peat.

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