Alwaysmining Odds to Win the 2019 Preakness Stakes with Picks and Predictions
The Federico Tesio Stakes is the local prep race for the Preakness Stakes, though slightly less so since it has moved from Pimlico to Laurel Park in recent years. The winner of the race typically draws a good bit of betting attention from the local crowd in Baltimore. But most of the time the horse is clearly outclassed and doesn't factor into the race in a meaningful way. The only winner of both the Tesio and the Preakness was Deputed Testamony, and that was way back in 1983.
But things could be a little different this year. Sure, Alwaysmining is again taking a major step up in class to make his mark here. But he comes in red hot, and for reasons I am beyond sick of talking about the race isn't as deep or tough as it is in some years. Can Alwaysmining change what we have come to expect from Tesio winners? Or will he just be more of the same?
Last race: In the Tesio, Alwaysmining sat behind a fairly lethargic early pace, showing patience. Not having to run hard early left him with a whole lot in the tank at the end. He took the lead around the second turn and proceeded to run away from the field. He was up by six entering the stretch and added five more lengths down the stretch. He didn't beat a ton - it isn't a rated stakes, and it is at Laurel - but he beat the heck out of them. It was fairly impressive.
Prior experience: The horse made his debut way back in early June, finishing fourth at Churchill. But he came back at the end of the month and broke the maiden in a lower-level maiden race at Laurel. Over the summer, he raced just once - poorly - but changed trainers twice. Then in September they tried him on the turf, but it only took a few furlongs to realize that that was definitely not the answer. This is not a grass horse. He returned to the dirt and was stretched out a little at the end of October, and it was like we saw an entirely different horse. He won that race on a sloppy track by 10 lengths. And that kicked off a six-race winning streak that is still alive. The last five have been in stakes races - all listed as opposed to graded - and all have come at Laurel. He's the three-year-old king of that track without question. But that track is all but irrelevant nationally, and now he has to swim in a much bigger pond.
Trainer: I won't lie - the first time I heard of trainer Kelly Rubley was when I was learning about this horse. Or at least I thought so. It turns out that I was vaguely aware of him for one other race - he trains journeyman turf horse Divisidero, and the horse won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap last year, which is a race I paid passing attention to. But not much - I didn't know who trained the winner. That was his only graded stakes victory in his career, and he has just 118 career victories. That's what Asmussen or Pletcher get in a couple months. So, this colt represents just over five percent of his all-time wins. He is obviously dialed in with Alwaysmining, but like the horse he is jumping into the deep end without a life jacket.
Jockey: Daniel Centeno is an accomplished rider, with more than 2,800 career wins. But only six have come in graded stakes wins - five in Grade 3 races, and one in a Grade 2. Two of those stand out for me - he won the 2009 Tampa Bay Derby in 2009 and the same race in 2014 with Ring Weekend. I remember both races because both went on to cost me money in subsequent races. Centeno knows the track, and he took over this horse right when he started winning, so there is chemistry and familiarity. But he's against more experienced and, frankly, better jockeys here.
Breeding: Alwaysmining is a son of Stay Thirsty. That horse was second in the 2011 Belmont and then went on to dominate the summer at Saratoga, winning both the Jim Dandy and the Travers. He couldn't carry it forward, though, running very flat in the Breeders' Cup Classic. At four he won the Cigar Mile in his final race. He has yet to take off as a sire, though that can change with one race this early in a stallion career. Stay Thirsty is a son of Bernardini, who won this race in 2006 en route to being named three-year-old champion. Alwaysmining's damsire, Anees, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was two-year-old champion in 1999, but he was a flop in the Kentucky Derby the next year. He's a son of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled. This colt might be climbing into a whole new class, but he certainly is bred like he belongs.
Odds: BetOnline has the colt at +800, which has him as the co-third choice with Bourbon War, behind favored Improbable and War of Will.
Can Alwaysmining Win the 2019 Preakness Stakes?: Sure. He's red hot, he runs a style that can suit this race, and he is bred nicely. But he will have to cope with not being clearly the best horse in a race - something that hasn't happened to him for a very long time.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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