May 16th 2019 – Updated May 18th 2019 5:46 PM EST
As I delve into handicapping this year’s Preakness Stakes, my level of excitement has grown. With no Country House or Maximum Security entered in the field, many viewers won’t tune in to watch this Saturday. Not tuning in, I think will be a big mistake. This year’s Preakness Stakes is wide-open. I think this is going to be a really exciting race and a good one for bettors with no short price favorite.
Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for this Saturday’s 144th running of the Preakness Stakes.
The Preakness Stakes – 9 1/2 furlongs. Race #13 at Pimlico. Post-time: 6:48 PM EST. Televised by NBC.
1) War of Will (4/1) – The Risen Star Stakes winner originally started off as a turf horse with little success before switching to dirt. The change worked well for the Mark Casse-trained colt as he reeled off three straight wins. War of Will generally likes to get out towards the front which will bode well in the Preakness Stakes.
Career: 9 Starts 3-1-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st-->9th–>7th
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2019 Risen Star Stakes
2) Bourbon War (12/1) – The Tapit colt finished 4th in the Florida Derby. His most impressive performance came in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (shown below) where he unleashed a late charge to finish second.
Career: 5 Starts 2-1-0-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st-->2nd–>4th
Trainer: Mark Hennig
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Remsen Stakes
3) Warrior’s Charge (12/1) – The Brad Cox-trained colt has never raced in a graded stakes race. So, I don’t understand the 12-1 morning line odds even if two-time Preakness Stakes winning jockey Javier Castellano is on board.
areer: 5 Starts 2-0-3-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 and 2017 Preakness Stakes Winning Jockey)
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Lexington Stakes
4) Improbable (5/2) – The Bob Baffert-trained colt is a consistent runner, never finishing below 4th in his six career starts. The Los Alamitos Futurity winner had some issues loading into the gate in the Arkansas Derby. He finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby after a poor start out of the gate. Note that Improbable ran as fast as Maximum Security after the bad start. He gets Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for this race, so I am confident he will be the live race favorite come post-time.
Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>4th
Sire: City Zip‘
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015 & 2018 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1993 & 2018 Preakness Stakes Winning Jockey)
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 100 – 2018 Los Alamitos Futurity
5) Owendale (10/1) – After a disappointing 8th place finish in the Risen Star Stakes, the Brad Cox-trained colt bounced back with an impressive win in the Lexington Stakes winner (shown below).
Career: 8 Starts 3-1-1-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Lexington Stakes
6) Market King (30/1) – He’s 30-1, and the only reason why he’s not 50-1, is due to his Hall of Fame trainer. D. Wayne Lukas who has won six Preakness Stakes races. This colt has never produced a Brisnet Speed Figure over 90 in eight career starts.
Career: 8 Starts 1-1-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>11th
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas (1980, 1985, 1994, 1995, 1999 & 2013 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Jon Court
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 88 – 2019 Rebel Stakes
7) Alwaysmining (8/1) – The Frederico Tesio Stakes winner (shown below) is the most experienced horse in the field. The Frederico Tesio Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Preakness Stakes but hasn’t produced a winner for the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown since 1983 with Deputed Testamony.
Career: 12 Starts 7-0-1-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Stay Thirsty
Trainer: Kelly Rubley
Jockey: Daniel Centeno
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Frederico Tesio Stakes (Black Type)
8) Signalman (30/1) – The 2018 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner (shown below). He finished 3rd in his last start, the Blue Grass Stakes. This is a quality colt, who you may remember, finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. I had hoped that he would find his way into this year’s Kentucky Derby. I felt he could have been a Derby sleeper since he had run so well before at Churchill Downs. So, 30/1 seems too long to me here but I am not sure the Pimlico track fits his running style.
Career: 7 Starts 2-2-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>7th–>3rd
Sire: General Quarters (Finished 9th in the 2009 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Kenneth McPeek
Jockey: Brian Hernandez
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
9) Bodexpress (20/1) – The son of Bodemeister. Bodemeister finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2012. A nice pedigree but Bodexpress has failed to break his maiden in 7 career starts. He did run well in the Florida Derby (shown below) with a 2nd place finish behind Maximum Security.
Career: 7 Starts 0-3-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>13th
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: John Velazquez
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Florida Derby
10) Everfast (50/1) – The Dale Romans-trained colt finished 2nd in the Holy Bull Stakes (shown below) but really hasn’t done much since. A very appropriate longshot in this field but I think 50-1 is a bit too long given the trainer and the rider.
Career: 10 Starts 1-1-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>9th–>5th
Sire: Take Charge Indy (Finished 19th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 94 – 2019 Holy Bull Stakes
11) Laughing Fox (20/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is coming off a win in the Oaklawn Park Invitational. He finished 4th in the sloppy Arkansas Derby. Asmussen has won the Preakness Stakes twice. This colt’s form is improving, just wish that he had drawn an inside post.
Career: 7 Starts 3-0-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 7th–>4th–>1st
Sire: Union Rags
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 & 2009 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2019 Oaklawn Park Invitational (Black Type)
12) Anothertwistafate (6/1) – The runner-up in the Sunland Park Derby and the Lexington Stakes. His best performance came on an all-weather surface at Golden Gate in the El Camino Real Derby (shown below). This colt has speed and the Pimlico track and Preakness race distance does fit his running style. He probably won’t win this Saturday but consider him in all your exotic bets.
Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Blaine Wright
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 El Camino Real Derby
13) Win Win Win (15/1) – After winning Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January, Win Win Win followed up this effort with a 3rd place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby, a 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes and a 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Career: 7 Starts 3-2-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>9th
Sire: Hat Trick
Trainer: Michael Trombetta
Jockey: Julian Pimentel
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 101 – 2019 Pasco Stakes (Black Type)
The Pimlico straight is 80 feet shorter than Churchill Downs and the Preakness is 1/2 furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The turns at Pimlico have less banking, so it is more difficult for horses to accelerate through the turns. All of this works against deep closers. It benefits early speed types and inside runners. So I would think you would want a horse that gets out towards the front early and makes his move early.
The Preakness exotic bets usually don’t pay out well unless longshots finish in the top 3 or the race favorite gets beat. Just like the Kentucky Derby was 2 weeks ago, this race seems pretty wide-open. So I am expecting that the exotic bets will pay out much better than it did last year with no short price favorite like we had with Justify.
My Preakness Stakes pick for tomorrow is Improbable. This is no “lock” by any stretch of the imagination with his previous gate issues. But if I am going to pick a favorite, I am going with a horse that has proven to be nearly as fast as Omaha Beach and was faster than Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby after his bad start.
At the 1/4th mark, of the Kentucky Derby, Improbable was 4 3/4 lengths behind but he finished 3 1/4 lengths behind. That is making up 1 1/2 lengths. He will get Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith who is good at getting the most out of his mount and being able to calm a high-strung horse.
Plus Improbable is trained by Bob Baffert who has won seven Preakness Stakes. Jockey Mike Smith has won two.
Improbable also has a decent post-position (#4). The Preakness favors inside runners who get out to the front early. This bodes well for Improbable, Warrior’s Charge, Alwaysmining and War of Will.
This field is wide-open and if I am betting on it, I have to key who I feel is the fastest horse in the field. You can have a paralysis of analysis trying to handicap this race. You’ve got to put “the baby to bed” at some point as they say. If I am going down with the ship, I’ve got to go down with the best trainer, best jockey and fastest horse in the field.
So, I am playing a win bet on Improbable and a some 10 cent Superfectas keying Improbable with the following combination:
4, over 1,3,5,7, over 1,3,5,7,12 over 1,3,5,7,9,12
I wouldn’t recommend betting huge amounts on this race. I am steering away from Exactas and Trifectas because I feel Superfecta are the better exotic bet for this race.
I will keep updating this clear up until post-time if I like anything else.
Stay tuned! And please visit my new multi-sport website: https://coxsportsnet.com/