Pimlico, Race 12, 6:20 pm ET
The G1 Preakness Stakes, Three-Year-Olds, 1 and 3/8 Miles, Dirt
The Preakness Stakes is always an exciting race, almost always containing the winner of the Kentucky Derby, and this year a chance at the Triple Crown is present, with Orb arriving fresh off a convincing success at Churchill Downs a fortnight ago. The sloppy track and the blistering pace could be excuses for those unable to beat Orb in the Derby, and a figure of at least 110 will probably be needed for victory at Pimlico.
Orb lagged well behind the blistering early pace in the Derby, but he made a huge move into the turn and maintained that momentum en route to an easy open-lengths victory. His figure of 110 was a slight career-best, topping the 108 he earned in his Florida Derby victory. He enters with a five-race winning streak, and has won from behind each time, against fast, moderate and even slow pace scenarios.
Goldencents was expected to be a top contender in the Derby, but he was unable to keep up early while tracking the aforementioned fractions and was basically eased by the rider when a placing was obviously not in the cards. His 116 figure in his previous race, a winning effort in the Santa Anita Derby, would make him Orb’s main threat. If the pace alone did in Goldencents, he is unlikely to rebound, since the pace will likely be hotly contested again. However, if the sloppy track was the main reason for his dismal effort, his chances improve greatly.
Titletown Five should be a pace factor and nothing but. His lifetime best of 101 came while chasing a fast pace in the Derby Trial and backing up at that shorter one-mile distance. His prospects at nine-and-a-half furlongs against better horses would appear dim.
Departing is the Illinois Derby winner. His trainer skipped the Kentucky Derby, preferring to wait for this race. He won with a 95 figure, and did run a 102 in his previous third in the Louisiana Derby. He lagged farther back than normal at Hawthorne and that may prove to be his best style. He’ll still need to step it up a few lengths, but that is always possible with young horses.
Mylute is another that does his best running from the back of the pack. He has recorded figures of 104 or 105 in three of his last four races, including in his late-running fifth in the Derby. To win, he’ll need others to regress. He has raced 10 times already, so a new top seems unlikely.
Oxbow was by far the winner of the pace contestants in the Derby. He made an early move into second behind the blazing Palice Malice, and “only” backed up to sixth, beaten nine lengths. His figure was a 101, still just a point off his twice-reached top of 102.
Will Take Charge pulled off a shocker in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, earning a 101 while moving from mid-pack to catch Oxbow late. Connections decided to skip any further prep races since he had enough points to make the Derby at that point. In the Derby, he was moving up into striking position when traffic problems killed any momentum he had. While it is hard to say exactly how much that cost him, it is a safe bet that his 12-length+ gap behind the winner would have been somewhat narrower with a clean trip.
Govenor Charlie ran a 110 while breaking his maiden at Santa Anita, then romped to an easy win in the Sunland Derby despite a regression to a 99 figure. He has had some issues and missed the Derby, but returns for the Preakness and should be a pace factor.
Itsmyluckyday was a hot commodity after easy wins in the Gulfstream Park Derby and the Holy Bull Stakes, and ran fast winning them, earning figures of 107 and 112. That may have put him over the top, as he declined to a 102 while easily being run down by Orb in the Florida Derby, then was never a factor in the big race. A return to top form seems unlikely at this point.
Contenders: Orb, Goldencents, Will Take Charge
Pretenders: Departing, Mylute, Oxbow, Govenor Charlie, Itsmyluckyday Outsiders: Titletown Five
￼Selections: First – #1 Orb Second – #7 Will Take Charge Third – #2 Goldencents