The 2019 Preakness has not garnered a great deal of national attention since, for the first time since 1986, there will be no Triple Crown at stake. Derby victor Country House and Maximum Security, the horse that hit the Churchill wire before the rest but was ultimately disqualified, are sitting out the run for the Black Eyed Susans. The same can be said for Derby runner-up Code of Honor and third-place finisher Tacitus.
Looking for his record eighth Preakness win, Bob Baffert conditions presumptive favorite Improbable. One of three Baffert entries in the Kentucky Derby, Improbable is the lone horse advancing to Baltimore after a fourth-place showing in the Run for the Roses. Jockey Mike Smith, who opted to ride Omaha Beach instead of Baffert’s Roadster in Louisville, is in the saddle on Improbable.
Given overwhelming factors like Baffert’s Pimlico track record and Smith on board coupled with the absences of the top Derby finishers, Improbable is a logical and deserving favorite. The second-place finisher in both the Rebel and Arkansas Derby, the son of City Zip isn’t exactly a dominant horse but certainly has run against solid competition and is under the care of impeccable connections.
Another horse sure to attract the attention of the public is War of Will. Impacted the most by Maximum Security drifting out in Louisville, Mark Casse’s horse and his jockey Tyler Gaffalione averted a major disaster, staying upright and finishing strong to the wire.
|Preakness Stakes Betting Odds|
|War of Will||+350|
|Win Win Win||+1200|
Odds updated as of May 16
Other horses that are in the conversation are locally-based Alwaysmining, Win Win Win and Bourbon War. All three of these horses warrant serious win attention. A horse to keep a close eye on is Kelly Rubley’s Alwaysmining. A winner of six in a row, including a victory over Win Win Win, Alwaysmining could not have been more impressive in his victory in the Federico Tesio.
Considered the local tuneup for the Preakness, the Tesio boasted a strong field this year. Sent off at even money, Alwaysmining showed a different dimension that day. Instead of gunning for the lead, jockey Daniel Centeno opted to sit back and let the race develop. As the field started turning for home, the veteran ride provided some gentle urging, and his mount exploded, winning by 11½ lengths.
It is hard to bet against Bob Baffert in the Preakness. Improbable may prove to be the best of the Baffert Triple Crown trio, but he has performed the best as of late.
The pick here is Alwaysmining based on several factors. First and foremost, there is no dominant horse in the race. Every contender has flaws, and no horse stands out completely.
To that end, Alwaysmining has done nothing wrong, and although his recent races have been run at Laurel, this is somewhat of a home game for him. Kudos to Rubley and owners Runnymeade Racing for resisting the urge to replace Centeno and opt for a bigger name jockey. Centeno knows the horse and is familiar with Rubley’s operation and fits the colt perfectly.