The estimated post time for the 2018 Preakness Stakes is 6:20 Saturday afternoon. NBC will be covering the event, and when they come on the air the scene will be reminiscent of two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. If the forecast holds true (100% chance of rain both Friday and Saturday) the first thing you’ll see is a racetrack with standing water and ankle deep mud, as well as thousands of people dressed in everything from designer rain-wear to plastic trash bags with make-shift arm and neck holes. That said, lets have a look at the eight horses who will slog it out.
1. QUIP. Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset. Jockey: Florent Geroux. Odds: 12-1. Qualified for the Kentucky Derby but took a pass as connections were pointing him toward The Preakness, not wanting to run in the KD on short rest. The best of the new shooters, if JUSTIFY or GOOD MAGIC falter just a bit due to short rest, QUIP would be the primary beneficiary.
2. LONE SAILOR. Trainer: Tom Amoss. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 15-1. Ran 8th in the KD. His preferred running style is to sit way back off the pace and charge late. Might not work here with the early speed and stalkers. Won’t mind the slop, and picks up a top flight rider in IOJ.
3. SPORTING CHANCE. Trainer: D. Wayne Lucas. Jockey: Luis Contreras. Odds: 30-1. Won The Hopeful Stakes at The Spa last year, and 2 of 3 starts as a juvenile. Has yet to take a big step forward as a three year-old. Doesn’t mind mud, but still don’t see him making that leap Saturday.
4. DIAMOND KING. Trainer: John Servis. Jockey: Javier Castellano. Odds: 30-1. Last won The Federico Stakes, (whatever that is) and has 4 wins in 6 lifetime starts. A big positive jockey change as JJ takes the reins.
5. GOOD MAGIC. Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Odds: 3-1. Ran well enough to finish second in the KD. Made a go of it in the stretch, but JUSTIFY had more in the tank. Chad Brown wouldn’t run him back this quick if he didn’t think he had a chance. Showed he was okay with sloppy conditions, so a wet track at Pimlico won’t be the obstacle.
6. TENFOLD. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Odds: 20-1. Last ran 5th in the Arkansas Derby in only his 3rd career start. But a little respect for Hall of Fame trainer Asmussen who has two Preakness wins; with CURLIN in 2007 and RACHEL ALEXANDRA in 2009.
7. JUSTIFY. Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Mike Smith. Odds: 1-2. Unbeaten in four career starts. Broke the “Curse of Apollo” with KD victory. Baffert’s previous four KD winners have all gone on to win The Preakness. His race to win, or lose. Preakness favorites have won 72 out of 144 in the second leg of The Triple Crown.
8. BRAVAZO. Trainer: D. Wayne Lucas. Jockey: Luis Saez. Odds: 20-1. Same connections that had the upset winner of the 2013 Preakness, when OXBOW beat heavily favored ORB. Finished a respectable 6th in the muck and mire at Churchill Downs. Has good speed and likes to stalk from off the pace.
In the last fifty years the top two finishers in the KD have gone on to race in The Preakness 33 times. The winner of the KD has won 16 of those matchups, the runner-up 13, and both have lost the remaining fourteen. I see the prevailing pattern holding serve this year too. JUSTIFY and GOOD MAGIC should finish 1-2. I’d rather see MAGIC on top as he would offer a tad more value. If a new shooter does upset the apple cart I suspect it would be QUIP.
For my plays I’ll use JUSTIFY and GOOD MAGIC in multiple race wagers such as pick 3’s and 4’s. In the race itself I’ll try to beat the favorites with QUIP on top of a trifecta key, using LONE SAILOR, GOOD MAGIC, JUSTIFY, and BRAVAZO underneath. I’ll toy around with some .10 superfectas keying both MAGIC and JUSTIFY on top with multiple long-odds horses underneath. And with a short field on a wet track it’s always worth a Place or Show bet on some ‘bombs’. Best of luck.