Horses That Can Win the Preakness Stakes in 2019
After a frustrating amount of defections and poor excuses - neither Country House nor Maximum Security is heading to the Preakness while hiding behind flimsy excuses, meaning we won't have the Derby winner in Baltimore for the first time since Grindstone was injured in 1996 - we finally seem to have a sense of what the Preakness field could look like. At this point we have 10 horses that are probable for the race. That number is likely to change in the next week, but not significantly. We are close enough to the likely field that we can start to look at horses that can win the Preakness. And because it has been such an odd year on the Triple Crown trail, there are a lot of horses that could win it.
At this point there is just one horse I am willing to toss without a moment's hesitation. Bodexpress was a maiden who didn't belong in the Derby, and he's still a maiden who doesn't belong in this race. But the other nine horses have, at the very least, a much better chance than that colt does. Let's look at them in alphabetical order, shall we?:
Alwaysmining: This horse won the Federico Tesio, which is the local prep for the Preakness - though it is no longer held at Pimlico, but at Laurel instead, so the winner has less home-field advantage than he once did. He won that race by 11 lengths and has impressively won six in a row. But they were all at Laurel and all against lesser horses than this. His grandsire, Bernardini, won the Preakness, and this colt will have to channel that to take the leap up to this level.
Anothertwistafate: This colt's connections really wanted to make it to the Derby, but they fell just short. Second-place finishes in the Sunland Derby, to Cutting Humor, and the Lexington Stakes, were just not enough. He's a Northern California horse who has never looked nearly as good outside of that lower tier environment, but there is talent here. The best reason to cheer for him is that he is a member of the last crop of Scat Daddy, the sire of Triple Crown winner Justify, who died far too young.
Bourbon War: I'm very intrigued by the breeding of this colt. He's a son of the great Tapit, who brings all the stamina you could want. And his damsire, Breeders' Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, contributes some classy speed. It's a nice cocktail. The colt hasn't lived up to that breeding yet, though, finishing a solid second behind Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth but then mounting no bid to wind up fourth in the Florida Derby. Maximum Security won that race with the oddest pace scenario I can remember in a major prep, though, so I give the colt a bit of a pass. I like this colt - probably too much.
Improbable: I will fully admit that I drink the Bob Baffert Kool-Aid. In bulk. So, I am a believer in this horse. But I am getting tired of making excuses for him this year. In the Rebel, his first race off a long layoff, we could blame rust for his runner-up finish. In the Arkansas Derby, we could blame the first-time blinkers, which didn't work for him, and the sloppy track, which he didn't love. In the Derby, we could again blame the slop. But that's three races in a row without a top effort. I just want to see him at his best.
Laughing Fox: This Steve Asmussen colt was an also-ran in the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby but then went to the Oaklawn Park Invitational, a win-and-you're in Preakness qualifier held on Derby day, and showed a lot more than we have seen from him in the past to win by a neck. It was a solid effort, and as a son of Belmont winner Union Rags he has some Triple Crown cred in his veins.
Owendale: This colt, another one with Preakness winner Bernardini in his blood, was a total disaster in the Risen Star but rebounded to win a Lexington that was much tougher than that prep race usually is. He's probably not good enough, but it wouldn't be an earth-shattering shock if he won - this isn't Bodexpress or anything.
Signalman: I was very high on this colt last fall. He was second in the Breeders' Futurity, a respectable third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and then he capped the season with a nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill. I was pretty sure I'd be betting on him in the Derby. But he couldn't carry his strength into the new year. He was awful in the Fountain of Youth and a non-factor while third in the Blue Grass. He needs to be much better, but we have seen that his upside could make him competitive.
War of Will: There is no way around it - War of Will had his Derby derailed by Maximum Security. He got crushed. I'm not saying that he would have won otherwise, but he stood no chance after the brutal collision. He deserves another shot, and from the outset he seemed like a horse better suited to this race than the Derby anyway. I look forward to seeing what he can do here.
Win Win Win: This horse joined the Preakness fray after Country House and Code of Honor ducked out - likely spotting a better chance at success. Before finishing an unthreatening 10th in the Derby on a surface that he clearly didn't take to, he was second in the Blue Grass and third in the Tampa Bay Derby. It was his season debut, a record setting win in the Pasco at Tampa Bay, though, that really captured the imaginations of bettors. The distance here is better for him than the Derby, but he'll need to find his best day to win. He's an exacta play, though.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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