Once again our Geo Sette brings us his detailed in depth analysis of this year’s Preakness.
The 144th Running Grade 1 Purse $1,5000,000.00 2019 Preakness Stakes
Pimlico Race # 13 Saturday May 18th, Est Post Time: 6:48PM
I’m happy to say that for most of us we can finally put away the conversation and controversy that was our Triple Crown’s first jewel, the Kentucky Derby. So now four of its starters return for this mega event, the 2nd Jewel, with as much history and anticipation as the first Saturday in May.
Missing will be the intrigue of a potential Triple Crown bid, but with 13 starters, it’s the largest Preakness field since 2011, and there’s a host of dynamic fresh colts who are poised to make their mark in the storied history of the Sport of Kings.
Inaugurated way back in 1873 for three-year old’s, all carrying 126 pounds, it’s at a mile & 3/16th’s. ( about a football field less in distance than the Kentucky Derby) The fabulous Secretariat still holds the record time from 1973, 1:53, so expect this race to be run in the area of 1:55 or so because none of these colts will break it.
There’s been fabulous moments over the years in this 2nd Jewel. Who can forget Smarty Jones back in 2004 smashing the field by almost 12 lengths? How about last year’s event? Justify emerging out of the ridiculously thick fog to win on his way to his thrilling Triple Crown. The New York Bred and gelding Funny Cide in 2003 was a fun story. In 2013, Oxbow ridden by the great Gary Stevens and saddled by Hall Of Fame Trainer D Wayne Lukas won at a big price defeating the Odds-On favorite Orb who had splashed his way to his Kentucky Derby win. How about Sunday Silence and Easy Goer duking it out through the stretch!
There are two legendary trainers in this race looking to add to their incredible resumes. Bob Baffert has won this race 7 times. D Wayne Lucas has 6 victories. The world awaits, it should be loads of fun and hopefully (God willing) we’ll have a beautiful day and a dry track for all of us to enjoy.
As always, I have worked feverishly in every handicapping capacity to provide this guide for you. This is my precise order of finish. Take it all in and use it to make an informed window decision for yourself.
# 2 Bourbon War
My top choice looks to be primed for his career best race.
Trainer Mark Hennig gets the fabulous Irad Ortiz Jr. back in the saddle and adds a mask ( Blinkers) for his first race in 49 days. As a two-year old this colt immediately showed promise winning his debut at Aqueduct. Then his connections confidently entered him into the Grade 2 Remsen going 9 furlongs where he raced wide and settled for only 4th. He then won his 2019 three-year old debut with a powerful close rather convincingly. His connection again stepped him up to the Grade 2 ranks in the Fountain of Youth where he showed signs of greatness closing powerfully in the 6th path gaining with every stride, only to just miss catching Code of Honor, who ran a big race in the Kentucky Derby. He finished ahead of Vekoma who followed to win the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. Then four weeks later in the Florida Derby he didn’t have the best of starts, and had absolutely no pace in front of him. In fact the entire field had watched Maximum Security and Bodexpress simply take a pedestrian walk around the track. This Preakness presents a totally different layout as there are several colts who have high speed which will likely be demonstrated through the first half mile. I’m expecting fractions to be clocked at about .46 and for him to mount a serious charge past the 8th pole all the way to the wire. His May 9th breeze adds to his fitness and I feel his time off will work to his benefit. The son of Tapit, out of My Conquestadory is sitting on huge race. I feel he wants the distance more than any other in the race. To conclude, in my video race reviews, I was impressed with his willingness to run inside or outside, eye-balling horses to his left and right and rolling right through. All we need is an honest or fast pace, and if we get it, the reward can be very generous. Let’s Go!
# 12 Anothertwistafate
There’s much to like and admire about this guy’s story. He has the look of a “Hard Hitter.” He began his career sprinting on the soil at Santa Anita and was simply empty, showing very little and he wasn’t backed at the windows either. Then 5 weeks later, stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth over the Golden Gate synthetic course, not only was he heavily backed at the windows, but he won the race for fun by 4 lengths. He then won back to back races over the same strip handily and was never threatened. Obviously his talent had surfaced and he was ambitiously entered into a pair of high level Grade 3 events. (The Sunland Derby and the Lexington at Keeneland) In both races, switching back to conventional dirt, going a mile and a sixteenth he finished well both times grabbing 2nd money. His connections knew all along they had a horse with potential, purchased for a stout $360,000. He too may just be primed to run a big race as they ask him to go an additional furlong, while stepping him up to this prestigious grade 1 race. The rider switch to Jose Ortiz by Blaine Wright is special. I’m just feeling he’s the perfect rider for this colt, especially breaking from the #12 hole. The beauty here is that he doesn’t need the lead, but he owns quality tactical speed to gather nice positioning, perhaps 3rd or 4th behind what I feel will be a sizzling pace. If that scenario emerges, then I’m feeling he can easily be a menace as they turn for home. His works for the race are good, handily going 5 and 6 panels, his Beyers rank as high as any colt in the field, he could ultimately fill a very solid Ortiz brothers exacta, perhaps a genuine “Twist of Fate”
# 4 Improbable
Seven-time Preakness winning Trainer Bob Baffert now puts the great Mike Smith on this colt for the first time. This $200,000 purchase son of City Zip showed dynamic flashes of greatness as a two-year old, winning all 3 of his starts, including a Grade 1, while earning a big number at Odds-On. He opened his 3 year old campaign burning tons of 2/5 money when getting caught by Long Range Toddy in the Grade 2 Rebel. He followed up to run a big race in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, this after displaying excessive restlessness at the gate. I was impressed with him that day, but he was clearly beaten by Omaha Beach, who was this author’s top choice to win the Run for the Roses if he wasn’t facing his health problem which led to him being scratched. Three weeks later, he was the post time betting favorite at the Kentucky Derby, finishing 4th after Maximum Security’s disqualification. This guy has impressive numbers, but you simply cannot dismiss the fact that he still hasn’t won as a three-year old after going unbeaten in 3 starts as a junior. His May 13th breeze at Churchill ( 4 Furlongs in 51.4) has me concerned and confused, he simply may be tied and over-raced. Does he have raw talent? Absolutely, but I’m not entirely sure he’s ready for his best, and that’s what I need to feel. I originally had him placed 5th, but moved him up to 3rd because of his marvelous connections and his consistency with his speed ratings.
One final note, Mike Smith won this race 25 years apart, in 1993 and then last year in 2018, Ridiculous…
# 1 War of Will
This guy has run into some terrible luck over his last few races. We all witnessed his misfortune as they were turning for home in the Kentucky Derby where he was clearly full of run, but horribly blocked and interfered with. He was lucky to not have a bad fall after being forced out and checked, and ultimately finishing 8th. This all followed his rough going as the favorite in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby where he took an unfortunate bad step, one that in my opinion dissolved any chance he had that day, sadly because he was going for the Louisiana Triple Crown. He raced brilliantly for 3 races prior to that start. I have believed in him throughout his 2019 campaign, and I’m again showing great respect for him and his trainer Mark Casse with this 4th place consideration. He again should show quality tactical speed and I feel his rider Tyler Gaffalione is good enough to manage it perhaps up until the top of the stretch. With his rail post, I feel he’ll sit 2nd or 3rd and possibly be in a nice position as they turn for home. He has proven to have the ability and belongs in this race for sure, but my top 3 choices are simply more appealing to me. He’s capable and has shown some heart, so I would consider him in various gimmicks, and perhaps more if he gets a great trip.
# 13 Win Win Win
I was happy to see Michael Trombetta come right back with this colt for another dance here in the Preakness. I have mixed emotions about his run in the Kentucky Derby. I watched the race several times. He was too wide early, and then he seemed to be uncomfortable amid the sloppy conditions at Churchill that day. So now they add blinkers which I feel can easily help, and although getting the 13 post, I feel he’ll have a much better beginning to position himself somewhere mid-pack. Then as I have witness several times in various races he has run, I’m expecting him to fire a quality late run especially if the pace materializes as I feel it should. As I shared with you in prior articles, his pedigree is interesting, He’s a Japanese bred son of Hat Trick by Sunday Silence, who won this same Preakness and later the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This all convinced me that this guy isn’t the sprinter he was as a two-year old, but a horse that can get a 9 furlong+ distance. If you watch his run in the Blue Grass Stakes and follow him throughout, you will understand why I say he ran a big race. It’s the type of effort I like to see from a horse, one that never throws in the towel, especially amid traffic problems. He needs a smart ride and Pimental is capable, so watch the board and don’t ignore this guy entirely. If he has a fortuitous trip, he just may fill your exotics with some needed gravy.
# 8 Signalman
This guy is a much traveled colt (5 tracks in 7 career races) and he comes into this race fresh and fit as exhibited by two nice breezes. Brian Hernandez is back up for Kenneth McPeek and he’s the lone horse in the race who can say he’s raced in 3 Grade 2’s and a pair of Grade 1’s over his last 5 races. It is obvious ownership believes in his talent, and I still feel he’s developing nicely while finishing in the money in 6 out of 7 tries while showing versatility. In many of his races he continued to battle late in the race, something I always love to see. His final race times and speed ratings are below many of these, but knowing that he’s fresh and fit and will definitely offer solid value in price ( I’m expecting 25-1 or better) I would watch the board and use him in various bottom gimmicks, especially your deeper Superfectas where you may steal a huge payout.
We haven’t seen the best of this guy yet, I promise.
# 7 AlwaysMining
This guy demonstrates what I feel is fascinating and many fans love about the sport of kings. He’s by far the most experienced colt in the field with 12 lifetime starts, and he comes into this race with 6 consecutive victories, many by open lengths. That means he has flat out kicked some ass. He developed later in his two-year old campaign and has been the “Prize” of Maryland, running most of his races at nearby Laurel, and now to top it off, he draws the “lucky 7”post. This son of Stay Thirsty obviously has a nose for the wire, so what’s the deal? He’s shooting for the stars, stepping up into a prestigious Grade 1, this after never even being entered in a Grade 3. He has romped home in a series of 100k stakes races and now faces substantially tougher competition. I feel he will undoubtedly add to the fast pace, and perhaps be a contending challenge early on, which is why I’m placing him a respectful 7th in this field of 13. I fully expect him to quit or be passed by superior horses. Daniel Centeno, his regular rider is consistent and reliable, and I feel good for him that he has a mount in this big race.
# 5 Owendale
This guy comes off his career best race in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland. I have great respect for Brad Cox and he once again puts up Florent Geroux who was aboard during his spectacular close, out finishing my 2nd choice Anothertwistafate. In his race prior he was beaten soundly by War of Will and Kentucky Derby Winner Country House. He comes into the race with a solid Breeze, but I still have him placed 8th because others in the field simply have more dynamic resumes. He’s a nice racehorse, and could possible better my rating, but I simply cannot kiss all the girls, or in this case all the colts, so I’m passing on him.
# 11 Laughing Fox
He’s another nice racehorse who’s is developing and has shown flashes of brilliance, especially closing late in races, including his last. Steve Asmussen saddling and Santana riding is always inviting. Asmussen won this race back in 2009 with Filly Rachel Alexandra who was the first filly to win in 85 years, so nothing is impossible with these connections. Even still this colts numbers simply do not measure up to many of my choice listed above, so I will have to pass on him too.
# 9 Bodexpress
Interesting how Johnny Velazquez picks up this mount. We all know about his 70-1 2nd place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, but he’s still a maiden after 6 starts, with 3 runner-up checks, two of them in MSW races. He also raced in the mess that was the Kentucky Derby and showed little or nothing. I do like his pedigree, but I can never offer a Maiden to win the Preakness Stakes. It’s just too much to ask of him. He should show some early step and perhaps be in the mix, but then I’m expecting him to tire amid the fast fractions.
# 3 Warriors Charge
Another interesting story. Brad Cox puts up the great Javiar Castellano and the owners forked up a $150,000.00 supplemental fee to enter this horse. He’s coming off two impressive wins, one of which he graduated in a 100k MSW, the other in an optional claimer vs inferior company.
The owner has money to simply burn, but this writer doesn’t. I will pass and wish them well.
# 6 Market King and # 10 Everfast
These two colts are my BOTTOM two. As a seasoned handicapper, there is simply no justification in thinking either one of these horses can finish in the money. I have them at 12th and 13th. The best either one could do in my opinion would be 7th on their best day vs this group of horses.
The Trainer of Everfast, Dale Romans, actually won this race in 2011 with Shackleford, and I think if he brought back Shackleford as an 11 year old, he would be able to beat Everfast.
Ok, so there you have it, Let’s hope for a gorgeous day and a dry racetrack, wishing you the best of luck and as always I want to thank you in advance for your thoughts and comments.
Let’s Go Get-em
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