The 144th running of the Preakness Stakes gets underway this Saturday. Meanwhile, the scene at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland will be quite the departure from last year’s edition.
In 2018, the days preceding Preakness action were dominated by talk of odds-on favorite Justify as the thoroughbred chased the Triple Crown. Sure enough, Justify edged out Bravazo by a half-length to finish off a thrilling Preakness victory. Three weeks later, Justify won the Belmont Stakes to secure just the 13th Triple Crown in horseracing history.
After a shocking post-race disqualification handed longshot Country House a controversial win in the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, most pundits had the three-year old penciled in at (+400) in the Preakness. Just behind Maximum Security (+125), the horse who crossed the Derby finish line first before the disastrous DQ.
But in the days after the Derby, both Country House and Maximum Security were scratched from the Triple Crown’s pivotal second leg.
Maximum Security’s owner/breeder Gary West – still smarting from the first winner DQ in 145 years of Derby racing – quickly announced that his horse would be skipping the Preakness. As for Country House, trainer Bill Mott spotted a lingering cough during post-Derby inspection, forcing his team to put their Triple Crown dreams on hold for another year.
This year’s Preakness marks the first without a Derby winner in the field since 1996, when bone chips forced Grindstone into early retirement.
Baffert-Trained Improbable Favored in Preakness Stakes
Before this year’s Derby, eventual winner Country Horse was the (+6500) sportbooks‘ underdog, while the Bob Baffert-trained Improbable closed at (+400).
Baffertis no stranger to success in the Preakness. In 2015, Baffertis led American Pharoah to the Triple Crown to break a 37-year drought before doing so again last year. He’s won the premier event at Pimlico seven times (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2018), making the Preakness Baffert’s most successful Triple Crown venue.
Improbable wound up in fourth-place at Churchill Downs. However, that marked his first career finish outside of the win and place podiums.
Joining Improbable (+225) in the contender ranks will be War of Will (+350), Alwaysmining (+600), and Anothertwistafate (+700).
War of Will had a chance to take the Derby in the closing seconds. That is before Maximum Security’s wide turn obstructed his path and that of several other trailers. With three victories this year, though, he’s certainly capable of crossing the finish line first.
Anothertwistafate missed the Derby, but with recent form of 2nd-2nd-1st-1st-1st in his last five outings, and Jose Ortiz as jockey, he could be a steal at those odds. As for Alwaysmining, the local legend has won six straight races at nearby Laurel Park, setting the stage for a triumphant step up to the big leagues of Pimlico should the stars align.
|Post Position||Horse (Jockey)||Preakness Stakes Win Odds on 5/16/19|
|1||War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione)||+350|
|2||Bourbon War (Irad Ortiz Jr.)||+800|
|3||Warrior’s Charge (Javier Castellano)||+1200|
|4||Improbable (Mike E. Smith)||+225|
|5||Owendale (Florent Geroux)||+1000|
|6||Market King (Jon Court)||+3300|
|7||Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno)||+600|
|8||Signalman (Brian Hernandez Jr.)||+2500|
|9||Bodexpress (John Velazquez)||+2000|
|10||Everfast (Joel Rosario)||+5000|
|11||Laughing Fox (Ricardo Santana Jr.)||+2000|
|12||Anothertwistafate (Jose Ortiz)||+700|
|13||Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel)||+1200|