It’s time for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The horse racing world is still talking about Justify’s win in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, with the buzz being we may be looking at another Triple Crown winner.
Can it happen? Sure, but he needs to get through the Preakness before we can start thinking about the Belmont Stakes. The race is set for 3:48 p.m. PDT, the 13th race on the Pimlico card.
Looking at the race, it seems almost impossible that Justify will lose. He is lightly raced – this will be his fifth start – but many concerns people had in the Derby – size of field, won’t get his dream trip, etc. – were answered.
What is the biggest obstacle facing Justify in the Preakness? Potentially jockey Mike Smith. Smith is one of the greatest of all time and has certainly won his share of big races, but there is a history of some bad rides on favorites over the years. Until he won the Derby two weeks ago, he had not won the race when riding the favorite.
If Smith rides just an average race, I think it’s still over and we will head to the Belmont looking at a potential Triple Crown.
Let’s walk through the field for this year’s running of the Preakness.
Quip (12-1): When last seen, Quip was seen finishing well back of Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby. He has won three of five starts with his biggest win coming in the Tampa Bay Derby when he scored at 19-1. I believe that win overinflated his value and it was probably a good thing he didn’t run in the Derby as he would have been well up the track. Have not been a fan and won’t be here. Rodolphe Brisset is the trainer and Florent Geroux is back up and has been the lone rider on the horse.
Lone Sailor (15-1): One of only four horses that ran in the Derby that are taking on the Preakness. He did finish eighth in the Derby which put him in the top half of the field, and that came after he had a poor start and then trouble late in the race. Might be one to look at if you are seeking a price but I’m thinking it would be a big leap forward for him to be a threat. Does pick up Irad Ortiz as the jockey – an improvement – for trainer Thomas Amoss.
Sporting Chance (30-1): He did run on Derby Day for trainer D Wayne Lukas and jockey Luis Contreras, but in the Pat Day Mile, not the big race. He had a bit of troubled trip that day and finished a well-beaten fourth. Hasn’t put together the strongest resume and the last team he crossed the line first was back in September. That was the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga, but since then the best he has done was a pair of thirds, including one in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Diamond King (30-1): Trainer John Servis will send out the horse that does have four wins in six starts, but the wins have hardly been noteworthy. His biggest race thus far was the Grade III Swale at Gulfstream in February where he was third. Gets a big jockey upgrade as Javier Castellano takes the call, but unless he gets away from the field early – don’t see it happening – he will struggle to finish mid-pack.
Good Magic (3-1): Was part of my Derby ticket and sure will be there today after that second-place finish at Churchill. Jose Ortiz again has the mount for Chad Brown and if there was anyone that could make Justify work in this race, it’s this horse. This is your Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ that came out after a break and was third in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in March, a finish that prompted some lose faith in the horse. He rebounded with a win in the Blue Grass, then followed with the second in Kentucky, holding off Audible at the finish line. Figures to be No. 2 in a two-horse race.
Tenfold (20-1): Steve Asmussen sends out this fifth-place finisher from the Arkansas Derby. Ricardo Santana – who rode the first two races on the horse – has the call. Two wins in three starts, with all three races coming at Oak Lawn. A big maiden win was followed by a narrow win in an optional claimer. The connections opted for the Arkansas Derby where he finished mid-pack in what I consider one of the weaker Arkansas Derby fields in some time. Honestly no doing anything but filling out the field here.
Justify (1-2): Not a lot that can be said here about the Bob Baffert runner that returns Smith in the saddle for the fourth straight race. He is four-for-four, with the 2-length win in the Derby the closest anyone has been. Went in the slop through some pretty good fractions and held when others would have faded. Is he a super horse? Hard to say for sure with this being just his fifth start, but man, there is every reason to believe we are looking at something special. Biggest hope here is comes out of the race sound after winning so we can enjoy three weeks of hype heading into the Belmont. The overwhelming favorite and deservedly so!
Bravazo (20-1): Another Lukas runner and the final horse that ran in the Derby. He had nothing but trouble in Kentucky, getting crushed coming out the gate and then running wide throughout the race before finishing sixth. All together not a bad performance to preserver and finish that high, even after flattening out late, and because of that, could be someone to look at for the third or fourth on your ticket. Has only three wins in nine starts. Luis Saez has the mount for Lukas and it is the first time he has ridden the horse.
My plays: After the Kentucky Derby where with 20 horses you get prices off the board, this is going to be boring and low paying as far as wagering goes. The best play is just to watch and enjoy the race, but in the end, where is the fun with that! Of course, there will be a win bet on Justify, but watch the tote and if the odds continue to plummet then maybe think about a sizeable place bet which won’t pay that much less than the win bet and it covers you in case Smith makes a bad mistake, which as we mentioned above, is entirely possible. If you want you want to play the exotics, put Justify on top of all your tickets and work from there. My exacta ticket will be Justify over Good Magic – straight, no box. That’s a minimum bet of $1, not bad. For the trifecta I will come back with Justify on top, over Good Magic, over all and I will hope the longest shot on the board. For a $1 trifecta, that is a $6 bet. Finally, if you are so moved to play a $.10 super, playing Justify, over Good Magic, over all and over all, will cost $3, once again, not too bad.
By Dennis Miller