Wishing you an early Happy New Year from the B-Lo!
In November, the Racing Kreskin reviewed his 2016 racing predictions which ended up being a respectable .350 batting average. It has been as high as .500 (2010 and 2012), so we’ll need to improve by a couple selections in the New Year.
It’s time to start channeling our inner Kreskin to take a look at the upcoming 2017 racing season. We’ll keep some of the old predictions in the mix (one of these years, I’ll guess right on the Haskell hat) and add a few new picks this year. I’m looking at you, Mr. Amazing Kreskin…
- California Chrome walks away with 2016 Horse of the Year Honors. This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but the next one might. The loss to Arrogate in the Classic won’t dwarf a tremendous year where the son of Lucky Pulpit won six consecutive races including the Dubai World Cup.
- Neither Chrome nor Arrogate wins the Pegasus. Upset in the Pegasus! We haven’t had a major upset in a big race in some time (Hello, Oxbow). Maybe South Florida is ready to produce one of the biggest ones of all time.
- The Kentucky Derby winner will come from gates 10 through 15. Looking for somewhere in the middle to the outside for the Derby winner to emerge in 2017. Nyquist got ‘er done from Post No. 13 last year. I foresee a repeat effort from the middle.
- The Derby winner will come out of the Arkansas Derby. It’s been a solid race for years and there is typically a very good Baffert or Asmussen horse running at Oaklawn. Remember the last Triple Crown winner came through Hot Springs.
- First Derby win for Asmussen, McLaughlin or Stewart. These three trainers typically have a horse in the gate at Churchill on the First Saturday in May. It’s time one of their horses donned the roses.
- New shooter wins the Preakness. Going out on a limb here that a new shooter (one who didn’t race in the Derby) takes down the second jewel in Baltimore. It’s a rare occasion that this happens, but the crystal ball says 2017 is the year. And so many “new shooter” references that it will make you sick.
- The Queen’s Plate winner will skip the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie. The oddity of running on three different surfaces within the Canadian Triple Crown gives this prediction a chance. Several Plate winners are strictly synthetic/turf horses and will just skip out on the Fort’s big race. Let’s hope this isn’t the case.
- The Haskell Hat is Green. The Racing Kreskin cowers at the Haskell Hat pick. He’s whiffed on this selection every year for the past eight years. Green has been my off the rotation since 1997. It’s time for the luck of the Irish to return with a green sombrero.
- Songbird defeats males in a Grade 1 race at Saratoga. She lost an epic battle with Beholder in the Distaff, a mare who challenged the boys a few times in her career. They let her loose in 2017 and she’ll win the Whitney or Woodward at a racetrack where she dominated her division in the past year.
- An older horse wins the Classic at Del Mar. A 3-year old has won three straight Classics and five since 2007. It’s time for the elders to step up and claim the big purse where the turf meets the surf. Of course, I’m hedging that Arrogate stays healthy and romps through his 4-year-old campaign.
That’s it for the Racing Kreskin as we head into 2017. We made a few big predictions, but no one said this job was easy. We’ll be back next November to see how his prognostications turned out.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.