Diamond King Odds to Win the 2018 Preakness Stakes with Picks and Predictions
The Preakness Stakes this year is all about Justify in the eyes of many, but there are indeed other horses running. One of those horses is new to the Triple Crown trail this year, but he has a trainer who has a perfect record in the Preakness, some solid breeding well suited to this test, four career wins in five finished races, and potentially a serious upgrade in jockeys. So, can Diamond King combine all of that to overcome a serious deficit in the odds and make history by winning the second leg of the Triple Crown and ending the fevered Triple Crown dreams many are having when it comes to Justify?
Last race: Last time out Diamond King won the Federico Tesio, a race that used to be at Pimlico but is now held at Laurel Park and named for arguably the most important breeder of thoroughbreds ever. The race is the lone specific Preakness prep race, and the winner of the race earns an automatic spot in the Preakness. The winners of the race are rarely particularly competitive with the top horses from the Derby, but they draw more than their share of betting attention because of the local connection. The last horse to win the Tesio and the Preakness was Deputed Testamony in 1983. More recently, Ruler On Ice parlayed a second-place finish in the Tesio into a very unlikely Belmont win in 2011. In the race this year, the favored Diamond King contested the plodding early pace, took the lead around the final turn, and held on in a duel to win by short of a length.
Prior experience: The colt broke his maiden at Parx in Philadelphia in September then won an allowance race at the same track a month later. Those two efforts earned him his first shot at the Big time, but in the Kentucky Jockey Club, which was won by Derby entrant Enticed, he clipped heels out of the gate and threw his rider. He regrouped with a start at Laurel in a listed stakes next time out and won solidly. Despite three wins in his first four starts, he was moved to a new trainer as Servis took over at the end of 2017. For his three-year-old debut he again tried bigger company in the Swale, a prep race at Gulfstream Park for the Florida Derby. The colt finished third but never really settled down and got comfortable, and it wasn't his best race. He then went to the Tesio and looked better, but we haven't yet seen an effort that makes us believe he belongs in this field as a top contender.
Trainer: John Servis. Servis trains primarily in Philadelphia, and he has had the occasional national-caliber horse over the years, such as 2016 Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia. By far his greatest success, though, was in 2004 when he won the Derby and the Preakness with the undefeated Smarty Jones before the colt suffered his only career loss in the Belmont, his final race. John's brother, Jason, is also a trainer who was represented in the Derby this year with his first Triple Crown starter, Firenze Fire. John's brother-in-law, Eddie Plesa Jr., has trained two Triple Crown starters, most recently Itsmyluckyday, who was second in the 2013 Preakness behind Oxbow. This colt will be Servis' second career Preakness starter.
Jockey: It's unclear as I write this. Frankie Pennington has ridden the horse in each of his six career starts, but he is not a national-caliber jockey, so an upgrade is likely. This horse was cross-entered in the Peter Pan at Belmont the weekend between the Derby and the Preakness, and Javier Castellano was named to ride there. Castellano had Audible in the Derby, so he doesn't currently have a Preakness mount and could get the ride. That would be a massive upgrade - Castellano has won the Preakness twice and been named the nation's top jockey four times.
Breeding: Diamond King is a son Of Quality Road, a very talented horse who had horrible racing luck. He won the 2009 Florida Derby and would have been among the Derby favorites, but injuries kept him out of the Triple Crown races. After some decent summer results, he went to the Breeders' Cup Classic but was scratched at the gate when he refused to load. At four he had more great results, including breaking his own track record at Gulfstream that he had set in the Florida Derby, but in the Classic he was badly affected by abscesses that hadn't previously been diagnosed, and he finished 12th. He was a great horse who should have been so much more. As a sire his best success has been 2017 Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman. Quality Road's sire is Elusive Quality, who also sired Smarty Jones. Diamond King's damsire is Malibu Moon, who sired, among several other top horses, 2013 Derby winner Orb. Malibu Moon is a son of A.P. Indy, so stamina isn't a concern. This colt is well bred for this test.
Odds: Bovada has Diamond King at +1600 to win the Preakness, which has him tied with Quip as the third choice among potential starters, though they sit far behind heavily favored Justify and two-year-old champion Good Magic.
Can Diamond King Win the 2018 Preakness Stakes?: Probably not. His biggest issue is that he ideally likes to sit just off the early pace - which is exactly what Justify likes to do. So, he'll either have to chase Justify or try to make a move and outkick him. Neither is likely.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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