Pimlico: The Grade I, $1.5 million Preakness at 1 3/16 miles
by Brian Nadeau
#1 Quip (12-1): GII Tampa Bay Derby winner gutted it out for a well-beaten second behind the then-undefeated Magnum Moon in the GI Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, then opted to skip the Kentucky Derby to run here as a fresh new shooter, and while he’s outgunned on paper, there’s little doubt he is the leading contender from that list. Of course, he had a “someone had to be second” feel to him in Hot Springs, and Magnum Moon just finished the Derby the other day (he was 19th), so it’s not like he was flattered two weeks ago. If nothing else, he’ll be a fair price, could trip out nicely and has some upside, and Brisset has done a good job campaigning him this year, but it’s tough to think he can dent the two favorites, who lay over this group; minor award appears his ceiling.
#2 Lone Sailor (15-1): Stretch-runner was one of a very few who actually made up some ground and passed runners in the Derby, and he did it with a lot of trouble, too, as he was 15th early, then ran into some traffic before settling for 8th, which could have easily been 4th with a clear run. Of course, he was in another zip code from the easy winner Justify, who he has to tangle with again here, as well as Good Magic, who beat him almost seven lengths that day, too. Amoss has done some good work with this son of Majestic Warrior, who is no doubt in the best form of his career, and he will be rallying late, too, though the pace doesn’t seem as suicidal as it was in Kentucky, which won’t help his chances; can run on for a share.
#3 Sporting Chance (30-1): Talented colt for Lukas will look to give the Coach a record-setting seventh victory in this race but will need to be on his best behavior, as he has a bad penchant for drifting out in deep stretch, which caused him to be disqualified from third behind Good Magic in Keeneland’s GII Blue Grass two-back. Son of Tiznow seems to be better suited to one-turn but has run well enough routing to give it a go here, and he’s in the same boat as the Derby runners, as he’s back on two weeks’ rest, too, after running an extremely wide and troubled fourth in the GIII Pat Day Mile on the undercard. Tactical sort is going to sit a good trip and has a big race in him for a guy who has built a Hall of Fame resume upsetting races like this, but while a win looks out of reach here, he’s hardly without hope of cracking the number; thinking he fires a big shot.
#4 Diamond King (30-1): Huge longshot could be one of the few in here to keep Justify honest up front, as he pressed some hot splits early in his career sprinting and figures to be sent away from the gate as well. Game winner of Laurel Park’s Federico Tesio last time steps way up for Servis, and while this son of Quality Road has won four of six, he’s way out of his element in here and far too slow on paper to get even a small slice; pop and stop time.
#5 Good Magic (3-1): Game Derby runner-up was in close attendance to the hot pace and ran on nicely while getting a bit leg-weary late, which means this slight cutback in distance could help him bridge the gap to Justify, who was in another league in Louisville. There are a lot of positives here, too; first, the fact Brown is even running says this son of Curlin is tearing down the barn, as the initial reaction was to pass and regroup for the summer; second, his price is going to be much better than Justify’s in what is seemingly a two-horse race on paper; and third, the favorite did have to deal with a very minor foot injury coming out of the Derby, while this colt has had nothing but smooth sailing. On the face of it, he’s not good enough to beat the heavy and deserving chalk, but there are a few factors that could help tilt the balance a bit, and when you’re talking about getting upward of four times the price, that’s enough to look this way; call to turn the tables.
#6 Tenfold (20-1): The most inexperienced member of the group has started just three times for Asmussen, so this is a big ask for a son of Curlin who was a retreating fifth in the Arkansas Derby, which was his first defeat, too. The good news is that he hardly disgraced himself that day and has every right to move forward here, and he’s going to sit a nice trip just off the chalk and anyone else who wants to chase early, which figures to have him in the right spot entering the far turn. On figures he’s one of many in here who are simply not fast enough, but there’s also no denying that he’s the newcomer with the biggest reason to move forward, too, though this is a mighty tough spot to try and do it; mixed signals here.
#7 Justify (1-2): Derby winner made a mockery of the dreaded “Curse of Apollo” when he aired in Louisville to become the first winner since 1882 to wear roses without running as a two-year-old, and he did it in devastating fashion, too, after pressing a wicked pace yet still having plenty to hold off ‘Magic in the lane. Son of Scat Daddy seemingly just keeps getting better for Baffert, who, like Lukas, is going for his seventh win in this race, and with little (winning) appeal from the new shooters, you get the impression we’ve got a match race on our hands, if even that, since the best horse looks like the controlling speed, too. There could be a slight concern, though, and that’s the aforementioned minor foot issue that popped up after the Derby, and while it’s seemingly been cleared and he’s been reported to look a picture of health on the racetrack, there is a chance that the (expected) wet and muddy track he’ll get today could cause it to emerge again, and we’re gambling here, so when you’re talking about 2-5 or so, that’s the definition of taking all the worst of it; trying to beat, albeit with little conviction.
#8 Bravazo (20-1): The second from Lukas ran quite well when 6th in the Derby, as closed from 11th while running wide every step of the way, and that effort was in stark contrast to his prior start, when he was essentially eased while 8th in the GII Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Versatile son of Awesome Again could be coming back around, and his GII Risen Star win at FG was game, and we’ve already mentioned that his trainer knows how to get them to fire in these types of spots, so maybe he ups his form once again. He’ll need by far a lifetime best to win, and it’s tough to think it comes after nine starts, but if you’re looking for a big price in the exotics, you could do worse than landing here; eligible to get a piece.
#5 Good Magic
#3 Sporting Chance
#2 Lone Sailor