2019 Preakness Stakes Field: Early Look and Handicapping
As usual, now that 48 hours have passed between the end of the Kentucky Derby and now, we have a pretty good indication of what the Preakness field will look like. Lots will change between now and then, but typically over half of the field that winds up in the starting gate is identified by now. And though this field lacks the rematch that most would like to see - Maximum Security is not being aimed at the Preakness, so he will not get a chance to beat Country House again and for the first time.
And as of Tuesday morning, we won't have Country House in the field, either. Trainer Bill Mott had been very lukewarm about sending him to Baltimore, doing it only out of a sense of obligation as a Derby winner. He's normally a big believer in rest and was aiming for the Belmont with his two runners - he also trains Tacitus - until Country House was elevated to the winning position. But on Tuesday Mott scratched the Derby winner, saying he looked like he could be getting sick. I'm all for taking care of a horse, but if you are scratching him two weeks out because he might be sick, you never wanted to run him in the first place. And to add to the attrition, Shug McGaughey also announced on Tuesday that Code of Honor won't be heading to the Preakness as earlier rumored. So, we are down to just three possible Derby horses going forward and about 10 or so horses in a likely field:
From the Derby
War of Will: We don't know what War of Will could have done in the Derby, because he got the worst of the contact from Maximum Security. Even before the Derby, though, I liked this horse more for the Preakness than the biggest race. He has the breeding and the way of going of a horse that will take to the Preakness.
Improbable: This horse went off as the Derby favorite in the end, and he had position throughout to do some damage, but he just did not seem to love the sloppy track and didn't make a significant move forward in the stretch. He wound up fifth - placed fourth - and was fifth or sixth for each of the last four race calls. It wasn't a great race, but I still believe and will give him a mulligan due to the conditions. Interestingly, Bob Baffert suggested on Sunday that he wasn't sure what he was going to do with any of his horses, but by Monday he had announced this was a sure starter and that Mike Smith would be aboard. I'm not sure what that change means, but it's not nothing.
Bodexpress: The maiden is reportedly being aimed for another shot at a Triple Crown race after a largely underwhelming Derby that was helped out by the fact the contact gave him an excuse. I am not on board the bandwagon here in any way at all.
Alwaysmining: He won the Federico Tesio, which serves as the local prep for the Preakness. The race is run at Laurel Park, though, so he doesn't have home-track advantage. And the winners of this race do not typically do much in the Preakness.
Anothertwistafate: This colt tried hard to make the Derby through the back door but was second in both the Sunland Derby and the Lexington Stakes, so he fell short. There is some talent here, but he needs to take a big step forward.
Bourbon War: He was fourth in the very oddly run Florida Derby that Maximum Security won, but this nicely-bred son of Tapit is better than he was able to show behind that glacial pace that day, and I see some upside here.
Laughing Fox: This Steve Asmussen colt won the Oaklawn Park Invitational on Saturday to earn an automatic spot in this race, and it seems like he will take it. Asmussen has won this race twice before.
Mr. Money: He was a fairly impressive winner of the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard, but he has not looked nearly good enough in three prior races against Derby contenders.
Owendale: He won the Lexington very nicely at a fairly fat price but had totally flopped before that in the Risen Star. His damsire, Bernardini, won this race in 2006.
Signalman: I was quite excited about this horse coming off his nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill in November after a third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the same track before that. But he flopped in the Fountain of Youth to start this year, and was an underwhelming third in the Blue Grass, so my enthusiasm has faded.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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