Certainly, without the top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby, as well as the horse that crossed the line first, but was disqualified, the Preakness Stakes that are set for Saturday has lost a lot of its luster.
But there are still 13 horses ready to go to post for a chance to claim the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The race is the 13th on the Pimlico card and is set for a 3:48 p.m. post time.
Maximum Security, who crossed the line first was disqualified and Country House, at 65-1, was put up as the winner. Maximum Security was moved well back in the field, with Code of Honor and Tacitus running second and third.
All four horses are missing from the Preakness field for a variety of reasons. That makes it a more wide-open race with Northern California being represented by Anothertwistafate out of the Blaine Wright barn.
Let’s run through the field of 13 horses in order of post-position.
War of Will (4/1, Tyler Gaffalione – jockey, Mark Casse – trainer): This is the horse in the middle of the controversy in the Derby as he was the most affected by Maximum Security’s drifting out. Once again stuck on the rail as he was in the Derby where he appeared to be ready to make a run in the lane before having to check. Has to be considered as one that has a real chance to win despite the rail draw.
Bourbon War (12/1, Irad Ortiz, Mark Henning): Last time we saw him he was finishing fourth in the Florida Derby as one of the favorites. He has had a consistent number of good works as he prepares for the return, but I have thought his closing style would be better suited for the Belmont.
Warrior’s Charge (12/1, Javier Castellano, Brad Cox): This is the first stakes race for the horse that broke his maiden in his fourth start, then came back to take an optional claimer at Oaklawn Park. The last win was by 6-plus lengths and he was given a 97 Beyer mark. Big step up even with the depleted field.
Improbable (5/2, Mike Smith, Bob Baffert): Here is your favorite and justifiably so. He finished fifth in the mess that was the Derby, going off at 4-1 in the race. Won’t get those odds here and won’t get the same traffic. I am looking for big things here as Smith gets the mount for the first time.
Owendale (10/1, Florent Geroux, Brad Cox): Been a fan of the horse since the win in the optional claimer back in January at the Fair Grounds. He was disappointing eighth in the Risen Star, but then came back and took the Lexington with a big run at 12-1. He has shown he can be up on the pace or come from the back. Either way, take a long look here.
Market King (30/1, Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas): Showed some promise with a third in the Rebel at Oaklawn at 48-1, but then after pushing the pace in the Blue Grass he tired out and was a badly beaten 11th at 33-1. I am thinking this is over his head by a load, hence the 30-1.
Alwaysmining (8/1, Daniel Centeno, Kelly Rubley): The local Baltimore horse has run off six straight wins at Laurel since last October, including some easy wins in stakes races. It’s a tough call as this will be by far the toughest race the horse has seen, but who knows with this horse that wants to be on or near the lead. It will be fun to see how the tote board fluctuates with this runner.
Signalman (30/1, Brian Hernandez, Kenneth McPeak): Has run in five straight grades races, but only has one win, that coming in November in the Kentucky Jockey Club. The last two starts produced a 7th in the Fountain of Youth and a 3rd in the Bluegrass. Didn’t earn enough points to get in the Derby and I don’t expect much here.
Bodexpress (20/1, John Velazquez, Gustavo Delgado): Got a spot in the Derby by finished second in the Florida Derby at 70/1. Got to Kentucky as the lone maiden in the race, went off at 70/1 again and finished 14th, although the connections feel he would have been much better if not taken up when Maximum Security went wayward. Me? I don’t think so.
Everfast (50/1, Joel Rosario, Dale Romans): Only race he can hang his hat on was a second in the Holy Bull at 128-1, when the winner Harvey Wallbanger was 33-1. Since then it’s been nothing – 8th in the Fountain of Youth, 9th in the Florida Derby, and 5th in the Pat Day Mile on Derby day. Lowest odds in his last five races as almost 40-1. Will be worse here.
Laughing Fox (20/1, Ricardo Santana, Steve Asmussen): He was seventh in the Rebel, then fourth in the Arkansas Derby, not earning enough points to make the Derby. He came back with a neck win in another stake at Oaklawn on May 4. That leads us to here. He seems to be another horse that would be better served in the Belmont, especially with some more rest. A deep closer that will need speed to chase.
Anothertwistafate (6/1, Jose Ortiz, Blaine Wright): The pride of Northern California earned a spot here by winning the El Camino Real at Golden Gate Fields on February 16. Since then the connections took a shot at the Derby, but he came up just short after finishing second in the Sunland Derby and second in the Lexington. He found trouble in both the Sunland and the Lexington yet still managed to finish second. A clean trip here and he has to be considered a major player.
Win Win Win (15/1, Julian Pimentel, Michael Trombetta): Seemingly one of the few horses in the Derby not bothered by Maximum Security’s issues he finished a ho-hum 10th. Was third in the Tampa Bay Derby and second in the Blue Grass to earn his spot in Kentucky. Does prefer to come from off the pace and has the outside post so he can just tuck in behind the others.
My plays: I would love to see Anothertwistafate win the race and I believe there is a shot, but I can’t play against Improbable here. I just think the Smith/Baffert tandem is sitting on the winner and that is where my win money will go. As for the exotics, I will use Improbable over top of War of Will, Anothertwistafate, and Owendale in both the exacta and trifecta. That’s a $3 wager for a $1 exacta and a $6 bet for a $1 trifecta.
By Dennis Miller