It’s clear this year’s crop of three-year-olds just aren’t built for speed. After a blazing fast first 1/4 mile at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes, the field limped home, allowing Shackleford to maintain his lead and hold off a hard-charge from Animal Kingdom to take the win and deny the 2011 Triple Crown bid. Looking at the race splits, it’s easy to diagnose exactly what happened: Shackleford and Flashpoint started very fast, then hit the breaks over the next 1/2 mile before the field headed for home.
Check out the splits below, provided by And Down The Stretch They Come’s Matt Gardner.
After a 22-second first 1/4, the next 3/4 of the mile were slower and slower before the final kick for home. Just like the Kentucky Derby, the pace was nothing to write home about, but this time Shackleford was able to hold-off the field after fading down the stretch at Churchill Downs. The race length, 1/16 of a mile less than the Kentucky Derby, also played to his advantage, and that extra bit of length could have allowed Animal Kingdom to catch Shackleford at Pimlico.
Gardner also noted the key to the race, which wasn’t all Shackleford. Heading into the Preakness, we all expected Flashpoint and Shackleford to run from the front and that notion held true, but after a quick first 1/4, the two slowed, leaving Shackleford with enough left in the tank to make a run to the wire.
The key to the Preakness, and the resulting pace scenario, was (in my opinion) Flashpoint. After zipping through an opening quarter in 22.69, he slows it down to 24.18 in the second quarter. If you watched both Flashpoint and Shackleford as they left the gate and went by the finish line for the first time, you could see that Shack was going to go with Flashpoint; he rushed up to join him going into the first turn. If Flashpoint keeps going hard after that first quarter, Shackleford probably follows and the pace is probably much quicker.
Check out the rest of our Preakness Stakes StoryStream for more on the race. For all your horse racing needs, head over to And Down The Stretch They Come. Check out SB Nation’s 2011 Preakness Stakes StoryStream for even more on the race.