Primed for Preakness Pearler

Bob Baffert at Churchill Downs

We’ve just about got our breath back after a thrilling Kentucky Derby and one that will be known as a somewhat infamous Derby for years to come depending on how you interpret racing rules! For anyone living under a rock Maximum Security was adjudged to have caused sufficient interference when veering to be demoted from 1st to 17th with Country House taking the win despite being comfortably beaten and largely unscathed by the interference. After Saturday’s Lockinge and ITV Racing we’ll be on to the Preakness Stakes!

Both the first past the post, Maximum Security and original second past the post, Country House miss this contest. The latter is reported to have been acting sick and coughing in  recent weeks so has been given some time off to recover. That illness makes him the first winner of the Kentucky Derby to miss the Preakness in 23 years; since Grindstone was retired less than a week after he claimed the Run For The Roses. However, we’re not completely out of luck, as key protagonists Improbable and War Of Will look to bounce back from their losses in Louisville and show the Baltimore crowd just how good they are and possibly pay a compliment to the aforementioned first past the post and promoted winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Preakness Background

The middle leg of the Triple Crown comes just a fortnight after the Kentucky Derby and 3 weeks before the Belmont Stakes. Just as the Kentucky Derby is known as “The Run for the Roses” the Preakness goes by “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” after the flower that represents the state of Maryland. Named in honour of the horse Preakness, who won a race on the opening day of Pimlico Racecourse, it was first run two years after the first running of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday’s renewal will be the 144th running of the race.

Run over 100 yards less than the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness can be a less ‘rough and tumble’ race than the Derby, another difference between the two is the limit of 14 runners in the Preakness unlike the Derby. These tests all come before the real stamina test of the Belmont Stakes over 12 furlongs.

The second most popular raceday of the year in North America after the Kentucky Derby but eclipsing the Belmont Stakes, Breeders Cup and many other big-hitters. Patrons have been treated to some superstars down the years claiming this race upon the way to Triple Crown glory including Secretariat,  Seattle Slew, Affirmed, American Pharoah & most recently Justify.

Preakness Preview

No better place to start than with a horse that ties in both the one drawn closest to the rail and one that was right on the premises when the defining moment of the Kentucky Derby unfolded. First past the post, Maximum Security swerves off the rail and nearly brought down War Of Will, thankfully he lived to fight another day and stayed up to come home in 8th position. Drawn one, again not ideal for one with his run style but a lot less concerning than it was a fortnight ago. Had Bodexpress & Win Win Win in behind that day and should be well able to confirm superiority with those. However IMPROBABLE, our pick in the Derby, finished in front of him that day despite enduring a tough trip on the sloppy track.

Another key-race could be the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, where both Anothertwistafaith (2nd) &  Owendale (1st) put in career best performances to do battle.  Owendale was outclassed on his last meeting with one of this field, in the shape of War Of Will, but market support has been noted and much better is expected on Saturday. The runner-up will have to be very smart to negotiate a very wide draw in 12.

A live outsider who has attracted support is Alwaysmining, on the back of 6 straight wins she claimed the scalp of  Win Win Win who gives the form some substance. This will be the first time he’s contested Graded company and can prove a real acid test of his ability.

IMPROBABLE emerged with credit in the Kentucky Derby. Despite letting us down on that occasion he had excuses and has a compelling profile for last year’s winning trainer Bob Baffert. But given the very generous concession from RaceBets, if the SP favourite wins (currently Improbable)  they’ll refund losing bets we’ve taken a play on BODEXPRESS (20/1), who looks overpriced at 20/1 considering he has some very good form behind Maximum Security in the Florida Derby before the Kentucky Derby didn’t suit. War Of Will can close in late to for the trifecta.

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