This Saturday, May 19, 2018, Justify, the Kentucky Derby winner will try to win the second jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes. The Preakness is run in Baltimore, MD at Pimlico Racetrack, or “Old Hilltop,” named for a small rise in the infield where fans like to watch the contestants. There is talk that since the track is over 100 years old, that the traditional Triple Crown race may be run at the newer Laurel Park. Personally, I hope that “Old Hilltop” can be renovated, and the Preakness can still be run at Pimlico. I like traditions to be kept, if at all possible.
However, what I will be discussing in this blog is the 143rd Preakness Stakes. I will be discussing the horses in the race, and giving my opinion of whether the Kentucky Derby winner Justify can add the second leg of the Triple Crown to his collection. If I think there is a horse that can play spoiler, I will point him out, too. I hope you will enjoy this blog.
As there have been awesome runnings of the Kentucky Derby, there also have been great runnings of the Preakness Stakes. There is the 1978 clash between Affirmed and Alydar (https://youtu.be/A5Zytq6GWWM ). Secretariat’s 1973 burst of speed in that year’s Preakness is my personal favorite of his Triple Crown races (https://youtu.be/yfWwIyQYkgc ). The 1989 Preakness Stakes featured an amazing stretch duel between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer (https://youtu.be/VJjJphmr10s ). We can’t forget the brilliant filly Rachel Alexandra winning the Preakness in 2009, as well (https://youtu.be/TD9AwA-N4EU ). Can this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes live up to these classics? We will have to tune in, and see.
The weather has been horrendous in Baltimore, MD, with pounding rain, that will continue to post time for the Preakness. The track condition is expected to be sloppy, pretty much like the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. I really hate off-tracks. An “off-track” is a dirt track that is labeled anything other than “fast.” I don’t think that all the horses get a fair shot, like they would on a fast and dry track. However, it is what it is, and all the horses have to run on the same track. The first two finishers of the Kentucky Derby, Justify and Good Magic are more probable than not going to be fine running in that slop on Saturday.
Let’s examine the entire Preakness Field.
THE 143rd PREAKNESS STAKES
- RACETRACK: Pimlico Racetrack
- POST TIME: 6:20PM, EST
- NETWORK: NBC
Post draw, odds
Let’s discuss the 144th Kentucky Derby winner JUSTIFY’S chances of winning the Preakness first. Much has been made of Justify’s heel bruise in his left hind leg. I watched videos of his gallops since the injury was treated, and watched videos of him at Pimlico, and I think the horse looks ready to roll. The “trial by social media” was way out of control, but that is another blog for another time. If he runs his race, and jockey Mike Smith keeps him out of trouble, as there is speed to his inside in QUIP, who is being ridden by Florent Geroux, and trained by Rodolphe Brissett, and SPORTING CHANCE, who is being ridden by Luis Contreras, and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, I think Justify could give his trainer, Bob Baffert another shot at a Triple Crown.
As for the rest of the field, the only horse I could see upsetting the apple cart would be the Kentucky Derby second place finisher GOOD MAGIC, trained by Chad Brown, and is being ridden by Jose Ortiz. I could see Good Magic being a bit more forwardly placed, so Justify doesn’t get away to an easy lead. Remember, Chad Brown upset the apple cart in last year’s Preakness with Cloud Computing. The aforementioned Sporting Chance is so unpredictable. He totally flamed out in the Pat Day Mile two weeks ago at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby undercard. Quip who was quite impressive in the Tampa Bay Derby could give Justify problems, if a speed duel developed. Quip also finished second to Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby as well. TENFOLD, who will be ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., and is trained by Steve Asmussen, has only run three times, and in his last race, finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby. I think I will pass on Tenfold, even though with a sloppy track, he might be playable in your exotics, should the favorites fail. BRAVAZO will be ridden by Luis Saez, and like Sporting Chance, is trained by the legend, D. Wayne Lukas. I know that Mr. Lukas loves to compete, but this horse is 20-1 for a reason. Bravazo is another pass for me. Federico Tesio Stakes winner DIAMOND KING is a horse that also likes to go to the front. He definitely takes a huge step up, but I think he is in over his head in here. LONE SAILOR has won on an off-track, but will need a very fast pace to have any chance of hitting the board. Irad Ortiz, Jr will be in the irons, and Tom Amoss is the horse’s trainer.
This race will feature a lot of strategizing by the jockeys. Justify must break well, as he is a huge horse, and he has had a recent minor injury. Justify is in only his fifth race of his career, and doesn’t have the experience of a more seasoned horse to deal with any kind of adverse conditions. Jockey Mike Smith must keep Justify out of of any kind of speed duel. Of course, it may be that Justify might be too quick to get to the lead, and he may be able to play “catch me if you can.”
Good Magic is the wildcard in this race. If Good Magic can be more forwardly placed, and is able to keep up with the speedsters, I suspect that the Chad Brown trainee could upset the apple cart.
All that being said, my pick for the 143rd Preakness Stakes is: JUSTIFY.
THE UPSET PICK: GOOD MAGIC.
LONGSHOT SPECIAL: TENFOLD
Feedback is welcome, and thank you for reading.