As promised, here is an analysis of the field for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. The feature event is race 13 on a card of 14 with a scheduled Post Time of 6:50.
1. RAM [ML 30-1] Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Hall of Fame trainer Lukas loves running in the Preakness, a race he has Won five times, most recently with OXBOW in 2013. RAM has Won his last two starts: a $50,000 Maiden claiming score at Oaklawn Park and then an Allowance Victory at Churchill Downs going a one-turn mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. This will be his first try in a Stakes race.
2. KEEPMEINMIND [ML 15-1] Trainer: Robertino Diodoro. Jockey: David Cohen. This colt’s 3-year-old season has been a stark contrast to his juvenile campaign. Last year, he was in contention in all four starts including a Win in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). This year in three races, he has not been a threat to Win or even hit the board. In the Derby, he was last early, made up some ground, and then passed tired horses without really gaining ground on the top three.
3. MEDINA SPIRIT [ML 9-5] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: John Velazquez. What a difference a week makes. This colt was being heralded as a gritty competitor, to having his Derby Win tainted by a positive drug test for the therapeutic medication betamethasone. How this plays out in the running of the Preakness is impossible to predict. Baffert has a nice record with his Derby Winners returning to Victory in the Preakness. MEDINA SPIRIT has never run worse than 2nd in his six starts and all three of those Place finishes happened when he was not on the lead in the early going.
4. CROWDED TRADE [ML 10-1] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Javier Castellano. He will give the Preakness a go with only three career starts which includes a debut Maiden Victory, a loss by a nose in the Gotham (G3), and then a 3rd in the Wood Memorial (G2). The horses that came from the New York Derby preps did not perform well two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brown Won the second leg of the Triple Crown in 2017 with CLOUD COMPUTING.
5. MIDNIGHT BOURBON [ML 5-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. He has ran in only Graded-Stakes races since he broke his Maiden last summer at Ellis Park. Unlike the Kentucky Derby, where he is winless, trainer Asmussen has Won the Preakness twice with the filly RACHEL ALEXANDRA in 2009 and two years prior with CURLIN. The only finish outside of the top three MIDNIGHT BOURBON was 6th in the Derby, when he got bumped back to 12th in the early going. He’ll be the clear third betting choice behind the Baffert pair.
6. ROMBAUER [ML 12-1] Trainer: Michael McCarthy. Jockey: Flavien Prat. This colt has an interesting six-race career; a Win on the turf to start his career, a Victory on the artificial surface at Golden Gate in the El Camino Real Derby, and a 2nd and a 3rd in Graded Stakes on the dirt. His connections skipped the Run For The Roses because the El Camino Real Victory got him an all-expense paid spot in the Preakness. His preferred running style is that of a closer.
7. FRANCE GO DE INA [ML 20-1] Trainer: Mori Hideyuki. Jockey: Joel Rosario. This Kentucky-bred will make his first start in America after running 6th in the UAE Derby (G2) in March at Meydan in Dubai. Prior to that race, he broke his Maiden and Won an Allowance race in Japan where he is based.
8. UNBRIDLED HONOR [ML 15-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Luis Saez. Pletcher has yet to Win the Preakness, but the second leg of the Triple Crown has never been a high priority for him. He usually skips this race with his Kentucky Derby runners, (unless they were the Winner) and aims for the Belmont Stakes. This colt broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs and then was 4th in the Tampa Derby. Most recently, he was 2nd in the Lexington Stakes (G3) behind KING FURY. That April 10th contest makes the Preakness an ideal spot for his return to Graded company. Live Longshot.
9. RISK TAKING [ML 15-1] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Was an impressive Winner of two starts at Aqueduct after his trainer added blinkers for his Maiden score and the Withers (G3) in February. He was a disappointing 7th in the Wood Memorial (G2) which dashed his Kentucky Derby hopes. He does his best running from off the pace and has a chance to hit the board in the Preakness.
10. CONCERT TOUR [ML 5-2] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Mike Smith. He entered the Arkansas Derby (G1) with an unbeaten record that included the San Vicente (G2) and the Rebel (G2). In the Arkansas Derby, he had the lead in the stretch but then got run down by SUPER STOCK and CADDO RIVER. His connections opted to pass on the Derby for numerous reasons, but he returns for the Preakness.
Summary: Despite everything, you can’t ignore Baffert’s record in the Preakness. His favored duo of MEDINA SPIRIT and CONCERT TOUR appear hard to beat when you look at their performance on the racetrack.
However, they both do their best running on the front-end. That combined with the turmoil that has been swirling around the Baffert barn could make them both vulnerable.
Even though he will most likely be the third betting choice, the Daily Racing Blog will take MIDNIGHT BOURBON to pull off the upset at Pimlico. He’ll get a cozy, stalking, trip, and will offer better Value than the Baffert pair.
The Play: In multi-race wagers we will use all three of the aforementioned horses.
We will also do a Trifecta Key using #5 MIDNIGHT BOURBON on top with #3 MEDINA SPIRIT, #4 CROWDED TRADE, #6 ROMBAUR, #8 UNBRIDLED HONOR, #9 RISK TAKING, and #10 CONCERT TOUR all underneath.
The ticket will read: 5 with 3-4-6-8-9-10 with 3-4-6-8-9-10.
If either CONCERT TOUR or MEDINA SPIRIT fail to hit the board it could be a nice payout.
We will also bet #6 and 8 to Win.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.