A Classy Champion, 1989 Belmont Stakes Winner Easy Goer
It’s been a while since Thoroughbred racing last experienced the thrill of a 3-year-old bidding for a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. What happens in the Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course will tell us if Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mage can become the first horse since Justify in 2018 to play that role.
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Only seven opponents will face Mage in the second leg of the Triple Crown but it should be an entertaining race that will speak volumes about what happened at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May when Mage prevailed as a 15-1 longshot.
1. National Treasure (3-1 morning-line odds): He’s trained by Bob Baffert, who could write a book about winning the Preakness. The Hall of Famer has done it a record-matching seven times already and has a solid chance here for number eight. National Treasure adds blinkers after finishing fourth in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Breaking from the rail, he should be part of the early pace and he certainly has the credentials to make his presence felt at the finish line.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
2. Chase the Chaos (30-1): California-bred lost by more than 16 lengths in the San Felipe Stakes in his last dirt race and seems overmatched here.
JOCKEY: Sheldon Russell; TRAINER: Ed Moger Jr.
3. Mage (4-5): A sharp winner of the Kentucky Derby, he’s a lightly seasoned horse with just four career starts who seems to be getting better with each try. He will be hard to beat here if he can duplicate his effort in the run for the roses, but the possibility of a slow pace could work against him.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado
4. Coffeewithchris (20-1): Maryland-based runner should be the early leader, but he weakened in the stretch of the ungraded Federico Tesio Stakes last time and seems unlikely to hang on and be a major player here.
JOCKEY: Jaime Rodriguez; TRAINER: John Salzman Jr.
5. Red Route One (8-1): He can be a big threat here on his best try, but he’s a stone-cold closer and the pace seems unlikely to help his chances. Maybe he can sneak into the superfecta or trifecta late.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
6. Perform (12-1): He rallied from ninth to win the Tesio, but that running style does not bode well here. He was supplemented to the race for $150,000 so his connections must have some faith in him.
JOCKEY: Feargal Lynch; TRAINER: Shug McGaughey
7. Blazing Sevens (5-1): After a dismal 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, he took a step forward when third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Skipping the Kentucky Derby was a wise move and he may be primed for a big effort Saturday for trainer Chad Brown, who has already won the Preakness twice with horses who skipped the Derby.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Chad Brown
8. First Mission (SCRATCHED): First Mission was scratched from the Preakness May 19.
THE PICK: Mage
LIVE LONGSHOT: Perform