There will be no Triple Crown bid in 2019, but the absence of the first four finishers in the Kentucky Derby led to a number of connections willing to take a shot in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Thirteen horses have entered, making this the largest Preakness field since 2011 when a full field of fourteen ran the race, which was Won by SHACKLEFORD.
Leading this year’s bunch are two exiting the Derby, Morning Line favorite IMPROBABLE and 2nd betting favorite WAR OF WILL, who played a major part in the controversial disqualification of MAXIMUM SECURITY two weeks back.
Post time is scheduled for 6:48 p.m. Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, which is hosting the race for the 144th time. NBC will broadcast.
Here then is a brief look at the field for the Mile & 3/16 event.
1. WAR OF WILL ML 4-1 Trainer: Mark Casse. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. There were anxious moments in the Derby, but by all accounts he has bounced out of the race with plenty of energy and has reason to improve if he can avoid traffic trouble. He’s twice a Graded Stakes winner in 2019.
2. BOURBON WAR ML 12-1 Trainer: Mark Hennig. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Another that had Derby dreams dashed, he’s a confirmed late runner who will add some small-cupped blinkers, while hoping to sit closer to the pace. He had little to run at in the Florida Derby (G1) but delivered a nice rally to be second in the Fountain of Youth (G2).
3. WARRIOR’S CHARGE ML 12-1 Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Javier Castellano. Supplemented by his owners for $150,000, the Florida-bred proved to his connections he can Win around two turns and registered solid speed figures at Oaklawn Park that seem to fit here. A relatively late addition to the prospective field, he contributes plenty of early pace.
4. IMPROBABLE ML 5-2 Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Mike Smith. The trainer is seeking his record-breaking eighth Preakness score — all his eventual Winners have exited the Derby — and adds Smith for the first time. The jockey insists he can improve this horse, who is Win-less on the year, maybe he finally gets involved earlier at Pimlico under the new rider.
5. OWENDALE ML 10-1 Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Florent Geroux. This colt bounced back in a big way from missing the board in the Risen Star (G2) to Winnning the Lexington Stakes (G3), at Keeneland. Cox says the distance is “a question mark,” but the running style of OWENDALE makes him a worthy contestant here.
6. MARKET KING ML 30-1 Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Jon Court. This is the trainers record 44th starter in the Preakness. He ran 11th last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), but Lukas took the blame for turning him around too quickly after a third in Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes (G2). Lukas claims the horse is now fresh, and we will see if this colt is more than a miler.
7. ALWAYSMINING ML 8-1 Trainer: Kelly Rubley. Jockey: Daniel Centeno. This guy is on a six-race Winning streak at Laurel Park, he has passed every test, extending in distance and last time rating in a dominant Federico Tesio Stakes Victory. There is a question of class. He’s bidding to be the first Maryland-bred Preakness Winner (DEPUTED TESTAMONY) since 1983.
8. SIGNALMAN ML 30-1 Trainer: Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. His connections passed on entering the Derby as an also-eligible — as he had a gash over his eye that required some time to heal. So they enter a fresh horse into this race, who ran third last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
9. BODEXPRESS ML 20-1 Trainer: Gustavo Delgado. Jockey: John Velazquez. The horse is a Maiden. The Preakness is the one major race Victory missing from Velazquez’s resume. Nothing should change. He finished 13th in the Derby, though it wasn’t as bad as it appears. He got cut off on the front stretch and shuffled back while making a bid through the far turn.
10. EVERFAST ML 50-1 Trainer: Dale Romans. Jockey: Joel Rosario. He is the Winner of one race in 10 lifetime starts. His best race came when he rallied for second in the Holy Bull (G2) at 128-1. Since then, he hasn’t hit the board in three starts.
11. LAUGHING FOX ML 20-1 Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. The son of UNION RAGS has won three of five starts this season and last time out took the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational on May 4 against a bit of a speed bias. He was also fourth behind some classy colts — OMAHA BEACH, IMPROBABLE and COUNTRY HOUSE — in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
12. ANOTHERTWISTAFATE ML 6-1 Trainer: Blaine Wright. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Connections passed on the Derby with a “Win and You’re In” free trip to the Preakness in hand. The colt is three times a dominant Winner on synthetic, but has run second in back-to-back Grade 3 starts on dirt. Do you chalk that up to the trip or a preference for another surface?
13. WIN WIN WIN ML 15-1 Trainer: Michael Trombetta. Jockey: Julian Pimentel. He exits a ninth-place finish in the Derby with a valid excuse. He just didn’t take to the slop. He may get the setup he needs here to close into a nice finish.
The weather forecast for Baltimore on Saturday is sunny, with temps in the mid 70’s. So it should be an honest, wide-open race, on a fast track. Stop back to the Daily Racing Blog on Friday when we will reveal our choices, and how we’re going to play them, including our Value Plays. For a preview of our picks tune into (it streams live) the Jerry Sullivan Radio Show, 1270 The Fan, out of Buffalo, NY. on Friday at 11:15.