Even with his undeniable horse racing talent, strong body and unmatched ability to give a solid showing no matter his starting position in the race or the track surface, Firing Line has lacked one element in most of his races—Luck. However, his jockey Gary Stevens (a three-time Preakness Stakes winner) strongly feels all that will change this weekend when firing starts at the No. 8 post for the 140th edition of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. With an “unlucky” history of nose-away second-position finishes, including a one-length finish behind American Pharoah in the recently completed 2015 Kentucky Derby, is this going to be the race that Firing Line finally gets the elusive first place finish? Let’s find out as we take a sweeping look at Firing Line and his horse betting odds to win the 2015 Preakness Stakes this Saturday.
Inside Look at 2015 Preakness Stakes Horse Betting Odds on Firing Line
— Forbes (@Forbes) May 14, 2015
Background Profile of Firing Line and Horse Racing Lines
Owner: Arnold Zetcher
Trainer: Simon Callaghan
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Odds to Win the 2015 Preakness Stakes: 4-1
Major Wins: Sunland Derby-G3 2015, MSW in November 2014
Other Noteworthy Finishes: Solid Seconds in Kentucky Derby 2015, Robert B. Lewis Stakes-G2 2015, Los Alamitos
Futurity-G1 and MSW in October 2014
Unlike 4 of the last 5 runners-up in the Kentucky Derby who skipped the Preakness Stakes to concentrate on the Belmont Stakes, Firing Line is hell-bent on taking another crack at beating American Pharoah and Co., hence dropping out of Preakness is not an acceptable option. In the early stages of the Kentucky Derby, Firing Line and Dortmund traded the lead several times, but in the final stretch, American Pharoah came from behind to take the lead, with Firing Line having to settle for second.
Of course, it was a bit disappointing for him not to get the win after he’d fought zealously. “But when you kind of reflect on the race, he ran an incredibly good race, really tried all the way, and we’re certainly very proud of him. You can’t really have asked much more. I think Gary (Stevens) gave him a really good ride, and he ran a fantastic race, so I think we can be nothing but very proud of him,” noted Firing Line’s trainer, Simon Callaghan.
Looking ahead, there is a lot of optimism by Firing Line’s handlers things could be better at the Preakness. Beating Dortmund, who’d finished twice ahead of Firing Line in their previous meetings, was particularly a strong indicator of Firing Line’s potential and his jockey Stevens believes that “”Hopefully, we can turn the tables on American Pharaoh (at the Preakness) the same as we did Dortmund.” And going by the reasons below, there’s definitely a lot to hope for this Saturday.
Reason Why Firing Line Can Win the Preakness Stakes 2015
In Firing Line’s two career victories, the Dark Brown Colt has amassed the wins by a total of 18 1/2 lengths, underlining his capacity to win. And even in his losses, Firing Line has done pretty well, finishing quite close to the winners. The one-length Kentucky loss was Firing Line’s fourth career defeat by a total of less than two lengths, with two other losses coming against Dortmund by a head.
“He’s an unbelievable horse,” said Arnold Zetcher, Firing Line’s owner who has racked up nearly $1 million in earnings over six races by his horse. “If you take all of his seconds and add them up all up, it’s one or two lengths. And the fact he came in second in the Kentucky Derby, I’m really excited about that.”
More importantly, the colt’s rider, Stevens, won the Preakness aboard Oxbow in 2013, Point Given in 2001 and Silver Charm in 1997, hence brings a lot winning pedigree to the 2015 Preakness Stakes. In addition, Stevens believes that there could be some post advantage for Firing Line, following the late entrance of Mr. Z (trained by six-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas) into the race with a No. 3 post, alongside the inside posts of Dortmund (No. 2 post) and American Pharoah (No. 1 post).
“I’m pleased not so much where I drew, but where Dortmund and American Pharaoh drew – 1, 2 – and Mr. Z outside of them,” noted Stevens when speaking to the Daily Racing Form. “I expect Mr. Z to show more speed than he had in the Kentucky Derby with new ownership. Wayne’s going out for the kill. That’s going to make those guys make some decisions earlier in the race that they didn’t have the benefit of making in the Kentucky Derby. Now I’ve got that benefit.”
Gary Stevens is an Eclipse Award winning jockey and Hall of Famer with wins in 8 Triple Crown races, including 3 Kentucky Derby wins, 3 Preakness Stakes wins, 3 Belmont Stakes wins, 10 Breeders’ Cup wins and 9 Santa Anita Derby wins. Combining his U.S. and international wins, Stevens had amassed over 5,000 race wins by 2005.
Though Firing Line’s No. 8 post isn’t as tough as the inside posts, it is also not the kind of post one would call an ideal position, with the most recent horse to win from the No. 8 post being Bernardini in 2006. Also, Firing Line hadn’t raced in six weeks when he took to the Kentucky Derby, yet now he’ll be racing after a two-week break, which could limit his competitiveness.
Concluding Betting Remarks
Even with the afore-mentioned pitfalls and the strong field, Stevens is highly-skilled tactician, arguably the best among active jockeys. His racing tactics at Kentucky was a good example of his shrewdness, as he maneuvered Firing Line through dense traffic in a competitive 18-horse field to force a three-horse race in the final stretch, and then a two-horse race in the final sixteenth-of-a-mile against the eventual winner American Pharoah. Stevens and Firing Line should thus be able to have another strong podium-place performance this Saturday, maybe even going on to claim the victory.