The Preakness Stakes (Grade I)


Pimlico Race Course—Race 13

The 143rd Preakness Stakes (Grade I)

Purse: $1,500,000

1 & 3/16 Miles on Dirt for 3 Y/O

Post Time: 3:48 PM PST


Analysis by Michael Patricks


‘Twas the night before the Preakness, and all thro’ the grounds,

Not a creature was stirring, no barn cats or stable hounds;

The silks were hung in the jocks room with care,

In hopes that Mike Smith and Justify soon would be there;

The children were nestled with Daily Racing Forms in their beds,

As visions of prior Preakness Stakes champions danced in their heads.


Preakness Stakes # 143 is upon us and Justify has arrived at Old Hilltop, firmly entrenched on the morning line as the one to beat, with a 1-to-2 odds-on appraisal by morning line maker Keith Feustle. Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic is second elect at 3/1, and then it’s a chasm back to Quip, Justify’s co-owned counterpart in this race who is third choice at 12/1.

Did you know? Montague won the Preakness Stakes in 1890 as a five-year-old, and the Preakness Stakes wasn’t run from 1891-1893? Did you also know?  No horse with odds greater than 23/1 has won the Preakness Stakes?  Master Derby paid $48.80 in 1975 and was ridden by now-California steward, Darrell McHargue.

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I came back to earth in a big way last week with a parachuteless fall from the sky in the Hanshin from Arlington Park.  I knew the favorites were vulnerable but I cast my lot with the wrong entrant.  Right church, wrong pew as they say.  I’ll look to get back on the beam in the Preakness and try to “get a little jiggy with it” by supplying who I believe are the vertical players that can come home behind the heavy favorite.

1-Quip 12/1 ML– Relative to a majority of those who have entered to run, he’s at least got some upside. He’s owned in tandem by the same people who have Justify so the tactics he employs from the gate will be intriguing.  One school of thought is that Quip will be sent to the front like a work mate for Justify, allowing the latter to sit just off his flank and move when the time is right; that’s entirely possible.  Another is that Quip will move off the rail and follow Justify up the back stretch and “ride police” on the other horses in the race, keeping Justify cocooned and unfettered in a relaxing rhythm up front.  If the two of them can slow it down, there’s really no reason they can’t run one-two all the way around.  Quip was quite dogged in the Arkansas Derby in maintaining the place spot, but he can’t compete with Justify if the chestnut is at his best.  With overall depth lacking in this edition of the Preakness, Quip is a must use in verticals.

2-Lone Sailor 15/1 ML– Eighth in the Derby, Lone Sailor arrives in Baltimore as the only horse with just one win to his credit and should be somewhat disregarded in the betting. Granted, he finished with interest in the Louisiana Derby before a very ordinary effort in the Kentucky Derby.  But I have not seen anything from him in his nine lifetime starts to suggest that Saturday is going to be a breakthrough day for him.  His jockey chooses a few mounts at Churchill over following him here, so that could be something—or nothing.   Think he’ll be cast away once again, but it’s possible he could grab a minor share rallying belatedly on the starboard side.

3-Sporting Chance 30/1 ML– I don’t think he can win and yet I have mixed feelings about including him underneath. He hasn’t won since the Hopeful at two, and he was put in his place in the Rebel at Oaklawn.   His Blue Grass was alright until he took a right turn at the 1/16th pole and caused quite a commotion (not to be confused with Madonna’s 1987 hit “Causing a Commotion” from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack) in the stretch behind Good Magic. That was a decent effort on paper, but he was put in check by three-year-old B-listers in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.  If you can get a head-to-head prop against stable mate Bravazo at 8/5 (+160) or so, I’d advise you to jump on that.  He could dispassionately back into your Superfecta though at a price; so… yes, he’s got a “sporting chance” to do that.

4-Diamond King 30/1 ML– Winner of the Tesio at Laurel, Diamond King is a hulking 30/1 on the morning line and lures the services of Javier Castellano. He’s a horse who likes to win races and possesses handy early-race speed and is to be respected on the Maryland circuit.  Obviously, the problem is that he’s facing the premier runners in his division on Saturday and Justify and Quip should take the starch out of him in terms of tempo and as combative pace partners up the Baltimore back stretch.  Push will come to shove and it’s likely you’ll see him bid a hasty retreat by the 3/8ths; looks like he’s in for some tough sledding when it counts so I’m siding against using him.

5-Good Magic 3/1 ML– Chased Justify around Churchill Downs fruitlessly and eventually had the wind taken out of his sails, just able to hold the place photo over Audible. When I think about this race tactically I wonder how things are going to be any different for him in the Preakness.  Who is going to be able to put heat on Justify so that he might be a little bit susceptible in the late stages?  I just don’t see it.  The hidden issue for me with Good Magic is my concern with Chad Brown horses on such quick turnarounds.  It’s well documented that Brown and Pletcher horses run much better with at least a few weeks between races.  Note the absence of any of Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby starters in this race as well.  Good Magic obviously looks logical on paper, but I’ll be surprised if he steps forward with a big effort when it’s all said and done on Saturday; demand at least the 3/1 value if you’re sticking in his corner after running his heart out only 14 days ago.  Pioneerof the Nile was in a similar position in 2009 and after going all out in a taxing Kentucky Derby, the wheels came off two weeks later in the Preakness.  Just saying there is precedent for hitting the wall at this point in the game…caveat emptor.

6-Tenfold 20/1 ML– The most-lightly raced horse in the field, Tenfold is the second of two horses in the Preakness by Curlin (Good Magic the other). Curlin won this race in 2007 when he defeated Street Sense in a heart-pounding finish.  Trained by Steve Asmussen, Tenfold is a slow-maturing colt with a leggy frame who should only get better as his racing career further develops.  His inexperience should be less of an issue against seven rivals than it would have been against 20 and he’s a fresh and rested horse heading into the Preakness, which is big for me.  Can he beat Justify in just his fourth lifetime start?  It’s doubtful.  Can he make an impression and stamp himself as one to take note of heading into the Belmont Stakes as well as later races in the fall?  Absolutely.  You better include him in the mix since I have a feeling he’ll be showing up with a good effort in this one.

7-Justify 1/2 ML– There was some talk that Justify was a bit off on his back left end after the Kentucky Derby but Bob Baffert ardently dispelled those rumors. It appears Justify is simply jogging up to the Preakness along with second choice Good Magic and by all accounts seems to be going well.  The big red chestnut who looks like an Adonis out there draws perfectly for this race and should be sent to the post as the biggest favorite we have seen in the Preakness since Barbaro, and Big Brown at 1/2.  Fusaichi Pegasus finished second to Red Bullet at 1/5 in 2000, and Spectacular Bid was sent off as the 1/9 favorite in winning the 1979 Preakness.  American Pharoah was only 4/5 in the wagering of the 2015 edition by comparison; poised to see that number seven saddle cloth pulling clear once again, next stop, New York.

8-Bravazo 20/1 ML– Should be more than 20/1 on the line. Do I believe that Bravazo could show up and beat Justify (or nevertheless win this race) if they ran it twenty times, thus “justifying” the morning line appraisal?  No, I don’t think so.  He’s probably going to be put in the race early from his wide draw but at best that makes him fourth speed and as a result he’s most likely the first who will surrender.  What’s it say that his jockey bails on him for his stable mate that’s 30/1?  Or, maybe Saez had his choice and grabbed Bravazo and thus Contreras ended up staying with Sporting Chance?  And maybe no one cares or is even reading this by now and they’re simply looking below this paragraph to see that I picked Justify on top?  Don’t give me the labor pains–just give me the baby…who knows?  I do think Bravazo runs last this time around, although he inexplicably moved up a touch with an off track in the Derby.

Selections: 7-6-1-5