Preakness picks

Welcome to the 130th running of the Preakness, also known as the great handicapping nightmare.

Updated: May 18, 2005, 5:31 PM ET
By Bill Finley | Special to ESPN.com

Welcome to the 130th running of the Preakness, also known as the great handicapping nightmare.

After the wacky results of the Kentucky Derby, who can honestly say they have any idea what is going to happen in the second leg of this mystifying Triple Crown. Nonetheless, here goes...

HIGH FLY was one of several horses who got swallowed up by the fast pace in the Derby and it was understandable that he got weary inside the final quarter-mile. For him, the race is a throwout He proved his quality when winning the Florida Derby. He just needs a better trip, which he's sure to get. This time, his stalking style will be to his advantage. He'll be near what should be a sensible pace and can move at the right time under Jerry Bailey.

Though he didn't win the Kentucky Derby, AFLEET ALEX remains the star of this division. He is a marvel of consistency, he's posted some fast numbers, he's durable and he is a Grade I winner. The problem is that his Kentucky Derby performance just wasn't that good. Considering that he had a perfect trip under Jeremy Rose while sitting behind that torrid early pace, he certainly should have been good enough to outkick Giacomo and Closing Argument to the wire. It may be that the mile and a quarter was just a bit out of his reach. If so, the slightly shorter Preakness distance should work to his advantage. Or he might have bounced off his huge Arkansas Derby win. The feeling is that he will have to run better than he did in the Derby and that he will.

While CLOSING ARGUMENT wasn't exactly part of the pace battle in the Derby, he was the only horse anywhere near the front at the three-eighths pole who was actually still competing in the final eighth of a mile. He did beat High Fly in the Holy Bull and he did run a good race in the Derby. He's not out of this.

GIACOMO's win in the Kentucky Derby has fluke written all over it. If not for the fast early pace, he never would have won. He might be good enough to hit the board, but no better.

HIGH LIMIT might deserve another chance after his awful showing in the Derby. He can't possibly be that bad. Neither can NOBLE CAUSEWAY.

SUN KING has been the biggest disappointment of the year. He looked so promising when winning his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream in an allowance. What happened? GREELEY'S GALAXY had no visible excuse in the Derby. He might be better than he showed. WILKO just isn't that good.

Newcomers MALIBU MOONSHINE, HAL'S IMAGE, SCRAPPY T and GALLOPING GROCER look to be in way over their heads. GOING WILD has lost his last three starts by a combined 86 1/4 lengths. Enough of this foolishness, D. Wayne.

PICKS: 1. High Fly 2. Afleet Alex 3. Closing Argument

• Bill Finley is an award-winning horse racing writer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated.
• To contact Bill, email him at wnfinley@aol.com