Preakness Stakes Preview – Baffert Brings 1-2 Punch to Pimlico
It’s not so far out of line to say that the Preakness Stakes may have lost some luster. It is true that it is part of the coveted Triple Crown for three-year-old thoroughbreds. But it has become a rare occasion that Kentucky Derby contestants compete in the event, unless they are top finishers.
That is because there is only two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness Stakes. So trainers and owners are hesitant to enter horses who may be a little worn. And those who compete in all three legs, including the Belmont, are running three times within a five-week period.
That’s a lot.
The storyline is there – and it’s strong
This year, BetOnline customers have witnessed the makings of a real drama. The winner of the Kentucky Derby – Medina Spirit – has tested positive for a banned substance. There has been no punishment, yet, but it might soon be meted out. For the time being, Medina Spirit will run. And he is the favorite. What’s more, Bob Baffert, who’s been banned from Churchill Downs, has a 1-2 combo in this race that could ensure his eighth Preakness victory.
Baffert’s other horse
Not only is Medina Spirit in the field, so is Concert Tour. And a lot of people like him too. His sire is Street Sense, the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner. Yet Concert Tour bypassed the Derby at the insistence of owner Gary West (who also owned Maximum Security). You know he is not doing that so he can run second best. And he is a well-rested horse right now, having last raced on April 10 in the Arkansas Derby.
Here are the odds…
As they are posted by the folks at BetOnline:
|3 Medina Spirit||+175|
|10 Concert Tour||+275|
|5 Midnight Bourbon||+600|
|4 Crowded Trade||+1200|
|9 Risk Taking||+1200|
|8 Unbridled Honor||+2200|
|7 France Go de Ina||+2500|
You can win in more than one way…
One of the other things that BetOnline has to offer is an innovative contest. It’s for those who have an account, or want to open one. It’s called the $10,000 Preakness Stakes Matchups Contest. And if you can pick the winners of a number of head-to-head matchups, you can win your share of a $10,000 prize! Read more at the end of this story.
OK, who else are we looking at?
It’s probably fair to say that Midnight Bourbon (+600) is a pretty capable horse. One thing you can’t say about him is that he has lacked competition. This is a competitor who hit the board in five straight graded stakes races, and then was a disappointing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. But at Churchill Downs, the race is so crowded that any mishap can take place. In the case of Midnight Bourbon, it was getting bumped right away. That, for all intents and purposes, took him out of contention.
You can’t underestimate the experience of trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the Preakness twice.
Crowded Trade (+1200) won his maiden, then lost the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes in only his second start. After that it was the Wood Memorial, where he looked like he was putting on a late charge before being overtaken by 72-1 shot Bourbonic. Trainer Chad Brown won the Preakness in 2017, and also saddles Risk Taking (+1200).
France Go de Ina (+2500) is racing for the first time in the United States. The horse is based in Japan, and ran sixth in the UAE Derby last time out. This horse is also ticketed for the Belmont, so you wonder whether trainer Mori Hideyuki is pointing more toward that.
Rombauer (+1400) hopes to be something of a late-running threat. He’s had an interesting career, starting as a turf horse. Then he scored a win on an artificial surface at Golden Gate. On dirt, he most recently ran third in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
How might this race be run?
This is really going to be about catching the two Baffert horses, who like to get to the lead. Medina Spirit went wire-to-wire in the Kentucky Derby. That’s happened 24 times in history. And unquestionably he’s had the most success when he’s done that.
But Concert Tour likes that kind of trip as well. So it is up to Baffert to make sure these jockeys (John Velasquez and Mike Smith) don’t go so hard at each other early that they burn out and allow for someone to close.
If they are under control, they can knock a lot of horses out of the race. That includes Rombauer and Unbridled Honor, who hope to mount a late charge.
Who might benefit? Perhaps Midnight Bourbon, right there in the “garden spot.”
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