Bourbon War Odds to Win the 2019 Preakness Stakes with Picks and Predictions
Bourbon War checks a lot of boxes heading into the Preakness this year. He is nicely-bred. He has as good a jockey as any horse could hope for. And he has shown some talent. But what we have not yet seen is an effort that truly shows us that he is a top-level horse. The pieces are there, but the list of horses that have had the pieces and haven't assembled the puzzle is incredibly long. Can Bourbon War be different? Can he win the Preakness?
Last race: Bourbon War was fourth in the Florida Derby last time out. That result was flattered when Maximum Security, the winner of the race, went on to win the Kentucky Derby - sort of. But the Florida Derby was one of the oddest prep races I can remember. Maximum Security took the lead as he usually does, with long shot Bodexpress, who is also likely in the Preakness, second. Both horses were, for reasons that make no sense, allowed to lead through glacially slow fractions. They were only barely above a walk - at least relative to what we often see from this caliber of horse. When you let a horse that likes to lead run at a slow pace, you are almost always going to get beat because they have so much left for the stretch, and that is what happened here. This colt is a big closer, but you can't close effectively when there is no early pace. So, the fourth was as much a result of the way the race set up as anything, and that wasn't his fault since he was at the back of the pack early on. In a lot of ways, you can really just toss out the result. The biggest concern here is that that race was on March 30, so he is coming in off a long rest.
Prior experience: Bourbon War broke his maiden in first asking, taking the win in a maiden race at Aqueduct in November. That was at a mile, which is the shortest distance he has run - a difference from many other horses his age. Less than three weeks later, he made his stakes debut, running a disappointing fourth in the Remsen in a race in which he never found his stride. It was pretty ugly, really. Six weeks later he earned his second, and to date final, win in an allowance at Gulfstream Park after his stable shifted to their winter home in Florida. Then came what was the best race we have seen from him. Coming from the clouds, and running wide around the final turn, he got up for second in the Fountain of Youth, the big Gulfstream prep for the Florida Derby. The winner of that race was Code of Honor, who just placed second in the Kentucky Derby. It was a race that showed that he can be compete here.
Trainer: Mark Hennig, the son of a trainer, is yet another product of the incredible D. Wayne Lukas training tree, having worked under the great trainer until going out on his own in 1993. He has a boatload of graded stakes wins among his nearly 1,400 career wins, but he does not have a Breeders' Cup win, and his best Triple Crown showing is a third in this race in 2004 with Eddington.
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. has been aboard the colt since his second start and is again in the irons here. It is hard to do any better than that right now. Ortiz leads the nation in earnings currently, and along with brother Jose, who sits third, is one of the best riders anywhere. Ortiz won his lone Triple Crown race to date aboard Creator in 2016 and has won six Breeders' Cup races. The colt is in very good hands.
Breeding: Bourbon War is a son of great sire Tapit, who incidentally is also the sire of Creator, who Ortiz won his only Triple Crown race aboard. Though Tapit has not sired a Preakness winner, he has sired three Belmont winners since 2014, and countless other really strong horses along the way. Tapit is a son of the legendary A.P. Indy, who won the Belmont himself before becoming one of the great stamina influence sires of all time. A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and his damsire is Triple Crown winner Secretariat, so the breeding for Bourbon war on the sire side is as well suited to this race as you can get. Adding some speed to balance the stamina, Bourbon War's damsire is Artie Schiller, who won the Breeders' Cup MIle in 2005. This is a very nicely-bred colt.
Odds: Bourbon War is at +800 at BetOnline to win the Preakness, which has him tied with Alwaysmining as the third choice in the prospective 11-horse field, behind only favored Improbable and War of Will.
Can Bourbon War Win the 2019 Preakness Stakes?: Sure. He is reliant on solid early pace, but the addition of front-running long shot Warrior's Charge makes it more likely that he will get that. He needs to step his best game up a notch or three, and he likely needs one of the top two favorites to falter, but he is in the mix without a doubt.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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