While he had the same connections as 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Went the Day Well didn’t draw a lot of attention in the Kentucky Derby and went off at more than 30-1. He certainly outran his odds, though.
Jockey John Velazquez knew the pace was going to be frantic, so he didn’t even bother to attempt to be in contact early.
He was 17th at half a mile and 14th after a mile. As the field crumbled down the stretch, though, the fresh horse was able to pick up the pieces and was a fast closing fourth. Another dozen strides and he would have been second.
It was a strong race.
The horse started his career in England, finishing second in two races as a two year old. The winter saw him get a new owner, trainer and continent to call home.
He failed to break his maiden in February, but he pulled off the feat in his second try in early March. From there, he went on to win the Spiral Stakes—the same race that Animal Kingdom won last year on the way to his Derby win. He didn’t beat anyone of note in that race, but he looked strong.
The issue, though, is that that race was on a synthetic surface. He has yet to beat good horses on dirt. That race was March 24, so he had a long rest before the Derby and should be fresh now.
Jockey: John Velazquez
Johnny V is an elite rider with 10 Breeders’ Cup wins and a Dubai World Cup to his credit. Despite his success, though, he has amassed just two Triple Crown race wins—the 2007 Belmont aboard filly Rags to Riches and the Derby last year.
He picked up the ride on Animal Kingdom at the last minute due to an injury, so he is much more familiar with this horse than he was at this time last year. Having him on board is an asset to this horse, and it gives him a better chance of winning than he would have under a lot of riders.
Trainer: Graham Motion
Born in England, Motion hasn’t typically been a trainer of elite three year olds, though that has obviously started to change with Animal Kingdom last year.
He is based in Maryland, so he is a rare guy who enters the Preakness having raced on the track more than once or twice a year. He trains in more of a British style than most trainers, keeping his horses at his home base in Fair Hill, Maryland and often traveling to the track on the day of the race. It has worked well for him, and he is more than capable of winning this race—and of handling the pressure of a Triple Crown experience.
Went the Day Well doesn’t have quite the impressive breeding of the two favorites in this race, but it is still more than solid.
His sire, Proud Citizen, was second in the Derby, third in the Preakness and fifth in the Belmont in 2002, so stamina isn’t a concern for this horse.
Proud Citizen’s sire, Gone West, had an impressive stud career in his own right and as a son of Mr. Prospector and a grandson of Secretariat, he had stamina to burn as well.
Went the Day Well’s damsire is Tiznow, the two time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner—another sign that the way this horse handled the challenge of the Derby distance was no fluke.
The horse likes to settle off the pace, though not nearly as far off as he was in the Derby. He’s not likely to settle nearly as far back in this race, though, because the early pace is likely to be more relaxed so the stretch run should be more energized.
Ideally he would look to be in the middle of the pack and out of trouble for the first mile of this race before looking to make his move.
2012 Preakness Stakes predictions for Went the Day Well
If pressed my guess would be that he’s not quite good enough to win this race. He’s going to be a very real factor, but I don’t think he’s of the same caliber as the top two horses in the field—especially because Bodemeister will likely enjoy a much more realistic pace on the lead in this one.
I’ll have this horse in my exotic bets for sure, though likely not on top. He’ll need to run his best race and do so under a less than ideal pace scenario, but he’s ready and capable of improvement.
Doc’s Sports is offering their 2012 Preakness Stakes handicapping picks for free on docsports.com