The 2019 Preakness Stakes takes place on Saturday, May 18th at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. This will be the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes, and it serves as the second leg of the Triple Crown, in between the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
While it’s usually a smaller field, this year’s Preakness sees 13 horses competing to win Saturday. Many trainers do not run their horses on only two weeks’ rest, which would be the case for any horse that ran in the Kentucky Derby.
Only four of the 13 horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago are entered to also run in the Preakness Stakes. That means that more than two-thirds of the field will be consisting of horses that did not run in the Kentucky Derby for many different reasons, including lack of points.
Maximum Security, who won the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified, will to sit out the Preakness Stakes. Country House won at 65-1 odds, but there will be no Triple Crown winner in 2019 as his connections have decided to forego this race as well. In fact, all three horses that hit the board in the Kentucky Derby won’t be racing in the Preakness as Code of Honor and Tacitus are also sitting.
Of the four Kentucky Derby horses running this weekend, Improbable had the best finish (4th). As a result, he is the favorite at 5/2 odds. Next in line is War of Will (4/1), which is the horse that was impeded by Maximum Security and had to pull up, winding up in seventh place. Win Win Win (15/1) was ninth, while Bodexpress (20/1) was close in the early stages before pulling up in the final quarter mile.
The Preakness Stakes has been won recently mostly by horses who are on the lead or only a few lengths off the pacesetter in the early stages. And Warrior’s Charge used to be a closer, but after a couple of disappointing third-place finishes, up-and-coming trainer Brad Cox decided to switch tactics. It has proved to be a brilliant move, and I also like the fact that rider Javier Castellano is the second-leading jockey in North American.
Warrior’s Charge has won his last two races since becoming a speed horse and a pacesetter. He posted a then-career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure in his first race after the switch, up from 87 in his previous race. Four weeks later when again setting the pace, he improved to a 108 figure. To compare, favorite Improbable had 107, 108 and 109 speed figures in his last three races, respectively, so Warrior’s Charge is in his class.
This is an improving horse that should be the pacesetter again in the Preakness Stakes, and I think he has the goods to hold off every other horse in the field. The No. 3 post will help make his path to the lead an easy one in the early stages. His ownership team clearly loves his chances as they put up a $150,000 supplemental fee just to get into this race. That’s a fact that cannot be overlooked here.
Owendale is trained by up-and-comer Brad Cox. He won two of his first three races around two turns, but then finished a disappointing eighth in the Risen Star Stakes in February. His connections believed he needed a break after that performance and some training, and it paid big dividends.
Indeed, Owendale returned at the Lexington Stakes last month and put in a huge rally while going from eighth to first on the far turn. He went from 3 1/2 lenghts back to two lengths ahead at the wire. He finishes ahead of fellow Preakness contender Anothertwistafate.
A steadily improving horse, Owendale posted his career best Equibase Speed Figure of 106 in that win in the Lexington Stakes. He went on to post the best five-furlong workout of 37 horses last week in 59.2 seconds to show that he is in great physical shape. While I think he may be the best horse in the field, I don’t love the fact that he likes to come off from well off the pace. I think he’ll come up just short behind Warrior’s Charge.
Improbable was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby. He came up short, but not too many people had Country House or Code of Honor, who finished first and second. I did have Tacitus in the show position, which is exactly where he finished. And Improbable ran another good race to finish fourth.
The reason I’m not picking Improbable to win the Preakness is because he just doesn’t seem to have that extra gear to pass horses down the stretch. He’s just been content to finish in second place. He lost to two great horses in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in Omaha Beach and Long Range Toddy. He lost to both basically by a neck.
Even though he doesn’t seem to want to win, I can’t leave Improbable off the board. He is the best of the Kentucky Derby horses who are competing this week. And his Equibase Speed Figures of 109, 108 and 107 in his last three races speak for themselves. He will be a factor, especially now that he has Mike Smith in the saddle. Smith has teamed up with trainer Bob Baffert to win four of the last five Triple Crown races.
This local legend has now won six straight races at Laurel, and he has been dominating the competition in the process. Bettors in Maryland always seem to fall for a local horse every year, only to be disappointed. But I think Alwaysmining has a legitimate shot to hit the board. Leave him off your exotics at your own risk.
I also like the running style of Alwaysmining, who wants to be at or near the lead. He’ll be battling with Warrior’s Charge and War of Will up front in the early going. Impressively, he has produced 109 and 104 Equibase Speed Figures in his last two races, which is why he has a real shot. It puts him in the class of Improbable, Warrior’s Charge and Owendale, which are my top three picks.
In his first five races during this six-race winning streak, Alwaysmining led from start to finish. But in his most recent race, he was third in the early stages, meaning he may not be a need-the-lead type. I was close to picking him to finish top three, but since no horse who has won some of the stakes races he has on the Maryland circuit has performed well in the Preakness, I’m hesitantly picking him fourth here.
Exacta Box: 3, 4, 5, 7 ($2 exacta box costs $24)
Trifecta Box: 3, 4, 5, 7 ($2 trifecta box costs $48)
Superfecta Box: 3, 4, 5, 7 ($1 superfecta box costs $24)
|1||War of Will||4/1|
|13||Win Win Win||15/1|