There will be no Triple Crown this year with Kentucky Derby winner Country House skipping the festivities at Pimlico. It’s the first time in 23 years the Derby winner didn’t make the trip to Baltimore. In fact, the top four horses that ran at Churchill Downs are all absent for the Preakness Stakes, leaving the field wide open. It would have been cool to see a rematch between Country House and Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first but was disqualified for obstruction, but neither horse is running.
Improbable ran fourth at the Derby and is one of only four horses that competed in that race to hit the stalls at Pimlico. He is the betting favorite at +235 for that reason. And also because he has a Hall of Fame trainer and jockey in his stable. Bob Baffert didn’t get the victory at the Kentucky Derby, but he’ll give it a go for his record-breaking eighth Preakness triumph. The 144th edition of the Preakness Stakes will take place on Saturday, May 18, 2019, with a post time of 6:48 p.m. ET from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The race will air live on NBC.
Odds to win 2019 Preakness Stakes
War Of Will +400
Bourbon War +850
Warrior's Charge +1400
Win Win Win +1600
Laughing Fox +2500
Market King +3300
Bettors will have to do some digging in order to come up with a winner at the Preakness. Unlike past years when there was a heavy favorite or two among the field, most notably the Kentucky Derby winner, that just isn’t the case this time around. And with the top of the field at the Derby not racing, the door is open for a number of horses to get a victory. Looking for another Triple Crown win, Baffert will send Improbable to the Preakness as one of four horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby and as the betting favorite. “I think he ran very well. They were all stuck there together, all bunched up. When he finally got loose he made a little run,” Baffert said of his colt’s Derby ride.
Improbable is at the top of the odds board for a reason. He’s run well in his three graded stakes races as a 3-year-old, though he’s yet to win. He triumphed at the Los Alamitos Futurity as a 2-year-old and had never finished lower than second in any of his starts prior to the Kentucky Derby.
He gets a weaker and smaller field at Pimlico, and also has a new rider with Mike Smith taking over the reins. Smith and Baffert have a history with the jockey taking Justify to last year’s Triple Crown. The lack of some top horses also has Baffert eyeing his eighth Preakness victory. “With Maximum Security not in there, that’s why we’re running,” he said.
War Of Will is the second favorite and we’ll never know how he would have finished at the Derby had he not taken the brunt of the obstruction from Maximum Security. He’s one of two horses in the field with a graded stakes win as a 3-year-old, but his last two starts have been uneventful. Still, he’s the most experienced horse in the race, and that should count for something.
Several horses have looked good in lower stakes races and it remains to be seen if they’re ready for the jump in competition. Warrior’s Charge won his maiden in wire-to-wire style and followed that with a 6 ½ length victory in his next start. Always mining has opened some eyes with his six straight wins, including a blowout victory by 11 lengths at the Federico Tesio Stakes. At +800, the Maryland-bred colt offers some value with his front running style on a distance that shouldn’t scare him.
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Preakness Stakes Picks
Considering the number of unknowns in the field, it would be wise to stick with an experienced horse. That leaves Improbable and War Of Will at the top of the pack. But like we saw at the Derby, there’s always a chance for a big upset. The likely choices in that event would be Alwaysmining, Owendale and Warrior's Charge. If the stage isn’t too big, I like Alwaysmining.
Preakness Stakes Predictions: 1. Alwaysmining 2. Improbable 3. Owendale
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