The second leg of the Triple Crown goes Saturday from Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. This specific Saturday in May becomes the largest shitshow on the planet featuring another kind of race on the infield called; ‘Running of the Urinals‘, but our horse racing handicapper John Valter is here to break down the most important race that day. The Preakness Stakes. John helps us identify value outside the overwhelming favorite Justify, so we can all make a little extra scratch.
1 – Quip – Of the new shooters, Quip is likely to be the most popular thanks to a resume dotted with nice scores. Looked impressive winning the Tampa Bay Derby, and followed that up with a runner-up to Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby. That said, Quip appeared to benefit greatly from slow fractions in both of those outings and he was hardly flattered by Magnum Moon’s Derby flop. The inside post position is problematic, as he’s left no choice but to gun for the lead. The only scenario where Quip has an impact is if he somehow makes the lead and the fractions are incredibly soft. Mike Smith seems unlikely to let that happen, hence I am siding against.
2 – Lone Sailor – Ran 8th in the Derby, which means he beat over half the field, so there’s that. However, in reviewing that race, Lone Sailor had few excuses with one of the cleanest trips of any horse. Tom Amoss doesn’t throw horses in for folly though, so I’m thinking he expects this one to run a nice race. This grandson of AP Indy has done his best running in the slop, and with a smaller field in Baltimore, he’s definitely a candidate for the back-end of exotics passing tiring horses in the lane.
3 – Sporting Chance – The likely pacesetter gives an honest effort every time, but he always comes up short when facing tougher competition. Like Quip, if he can slow the pace to a crawl there’s a slight chance, but that seems like an unlikely scenario. I respect this guy, but he’s in over his head and will likely fade when the real racing starts in the stretch.
4 – Diamond King – First Preakness entry for trainer John Servis since winning the race with Smarty Jones in 2004. Diamond King is a pretty good sprinter who was able to stretch out his speed to score a win in the Federico Tesio; a traditional 1 1/8 mile Preakness prep at Laurel Park. Servis is another who doesn’t enter his horses for folly, though in this case he may be shooting more for a board finish than a victory. Despite his mostly sprinter background, he’s bred to run long and well on a wet track, and is a half-brother to 2017 Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman. Will be interested to see what Javier Castellano does with him in the early going; with a nice trip, he’s certainly a contender to get a piece of the pie.
5 – Good Magic – After wavering on whether to bring the Derby runner-up to Baltimore, Chad Brown decided the short field and his colt’s impressive Derby run were good reasons to take another crack at Justify. Looks to be on the upswing, ran a big race in Louisville (easily rating second-best), and was really the only horse to threaten Justify during the entire race. The question then is, what does Good Magic need to turn the tables here? It appears a tall task, as the conditions and pace scenario are likely similar to the Derby. There wasn’t an excuse for Good Magic in Louisville, he just got outrun by a better horse. Given the small field, he’s likely to take tons of money from those looking to beat Justify, and is likely to offer very little value. That said, he’s clearly the one with the best chance to score the upset, and has to be included in exotics.
6 – Tenfold – An intriguing entrant from Steve Asmussen. Tenfold ran a deceptively strong 5th place in the Arkansas Derby, and would likely have garnered some longshot interest from me had he been in the Derby field. Asmussen had him running routes from the word drop, with a pair of 8.5 furlong wins at Oaklawn Park before taking the big step up in class for the Arkansas Derby. It’s another class jump here, but when you look beyond Justify and Good Magic, what is there really? Reports from Churchill where he’s been training are that he’s a physical specimen. Asmussen told Blood Horse, “[He’s] going to have very good races in his future. I’m just hoping Saturday is what we’re talking about and not a year from now.” Asmussen got his first Preakness win with this one’s papa, Curlin. Like father, like son? Seems unlikely, but if one of the top two aren’t in the winner’s circle, I suspect Tenfold will be.
7 – Justify – There’s really nothing not to like about the undefeated Kentucky Derby winner. He’s fast, he has tactical speed, and he appears to be great on any track condition. He’s got a Hall of Fame jockey and the best trainer of this generation (who, by the way, is 4 for 4 with Derby winners in the Preakness). He’s looked great in his gallops at Churchill Downs since the Derby win, despite some initial internet speculation that may not be 100% sound. There’s very little more to say about his chances. If he runs like he has in the past four races, he is going to be headed to New York for a chance at the Triple Crown. Hell, even if he regresses a little, he can still probably handle this field. It would take major regression to see him lose. He’s going to offer no value at the wagering window, but he is the obvious one to beat.
8 – Bravazo – I discounted his chances in Louisville, but he outran his odds and came in 6th. Rallying to move into 4th at the 1/8th pole, and for a bit it looked like he would complete the bottom end of the superfecta, but he tired a bit. I’m a little uncertain how to approach his Derby, but all-in-all, I suspect it was a decent effort as he ran wide every step of the way; covering more ground than any other horse in the field. In Kentucky, Bravazo looked more like the horse that won the Risen Star, as opposed to the one that quit in the Louisiana Derby. All that said, there’s nothing to suggest that he can make up the eight lengths on Justify here, and I like the chances of a few new shooters better to complete the trifecta.
How I’m Betting The Preakness Stakes:
I don’t envision a non-catastrophic scenario in which Justify doesn’t win. He’s simply the best horse in a race that suits him perfectly. Good Magic is clearly the 2nd best, but for value purposes, I will be placing him third, and hoping to catch a longshot on the bottom of the exotics. As indicated above, I think Tenfold could be sitting on a big race, and I don’t discount Diamond King’s chances either.
1) Justify, 2) Tenfold, 3) Good Magic, 4) Diamond King
Exacta Wheel – Justify/Tenfold, Good Magic, Diamond King
Trifecta Wheel – Justify/Good Magic/ALL
Justify/Tenfold, Diamond King/Good Magic
Justify/Tenfold/Good Magic, Diamond King, Bravazo, Lone Sailor
Matchups: Tenfold should offer outstanding value against any horse not named Justify or Good Magic, while Quip appears to be this race’s Mendelssohn, good for head-to-head fade opportunities.