After the incredible events at the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, with a disqualification of the first horse across the wire and a 65-1 shot elevated into the win spot, it’s hard to imagine the Preakness Stakes serving up an encore in Baltimore. Instead, the Preakness promises to offer a less controversial race with some interesting wagering options among a balanced 13-horse field. The probable favorite is Improbable, who is winless in three starts this year but is trained by Bob Baffert who already owns seven Preakness wins and casts a huge shadow over every Triple Crown race he enters.
Racetrack: Pimlico in Baltimore
Date: May 18
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Post Time: 6:48 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014), Smarty Jones (2004), Silver Charm (1997), Sunday Silence (1989), Risen Star (1988), Alysheba (1987), Spectacular Bid (1979), Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973)
First held: 1873
1. War of Will (4-1): He’s back on the rail after being a lightning rod for controversy in the Kentucky Derby. His bumping from Maximum Security led to the disqualification, and the Preakness should illustrate whether it was the bumping or the mile-and-a-quarter distance that caught up with him in the final furlong of the run for the roses. Winner of two graded stakes, if he can duplicate his best efforts, he will be a major player.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Mark Casse
2. Bourbon War (12-1): He was quite competitive with Code of Honor in two Florida stakes and that rival was placed second in the Kentucky Derby. He failed to accrue enough qualifying points to start in the run for the roses, but, if there’s a lively enough pace, he can make up for that lost opportunity here.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Mark Hennig
3. Warrior’s Charge (12-1): He’s won his last two starts by a combined 12 ½ lengths but he’s making a big jump in class from an allowance race at Oaklawn Park to the second leg of the Triple Crown. At least he has one of the game’s best jockeys in Javier Castellano. Figures to be part of the early pace scenario.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano TRAINER: Brad Cox
4. Improbable (5-2): The Baffert factor definitely comes into play here. The two-time Triple Crown winner is a master at coaxing a big effort out of horses who turn up at the Preakness two weeks after racing in the Kentucky Derby. Of the four Kentucky Derby starters in this field, his fourth-place finish was the best of the bunch and with seconds in the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes, he’s the one to fear most, especially with “Big Money” Mike Smith in the saddle.
JOCKEY: Mike Smith TRAINER: Bob Baffert
5. Owendale (10-1): He jumped into the Preakness picture with a sharp win in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Didn’t fire before that while well-beaten by War of Will in the Risen Star, but looks like the type of 3-year-old who will appreciate the 1 3/16-mile distance.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Brad Cox
6. Market King (30-1): If he wins, it will be one for the ages. Why? Because trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Jon Court are a combined 141 years old. He’s a longshot for sure with just one career win, but the last of Lukas’ six Preakness winners was a 15-1 shot (Oxbow in 2013).
JOCKEY: Jon Court TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas
7. Alwaysmining (8-1): He’s the hometown hero with six straight wins, all at Laurel Park. Maryland horses are often overmatched in this race, but his winning margins have been growing and growing and he definitely merits respect in a field without the official and unofficial Kentucky Derby winners.
JOCKEY: Daniel Centeno TRAINER: Kelly Rubley
8. Signalman (30-1): He showed some talent at 2 with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club and a third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Yet his two losses at 3, a third in the Blue Grass Stakes and a seventh in the Fountain of Youth, do little to inspire confidence in a bounce-back effort in a Triple Crown race.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr. TRAINER: Kenny McPeek
9. Bodexpress (20-1): He’s still a maiden, but showed some life in the Kentucky Derby as he was in the thick of the battle until the bumping incident caused Chris Landeros to take up and drop out of the race. With Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard, he just might turn in a better showing with a clean trip.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado
10. Everfast (50-1): A last-minute entrant, his lone victory came in a maiden race and he seems over his head here.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Dale Romans
11. Laughing Fox (20-1): Maybe he’ll get the last laugh. He’s moving in the right direction with a win in the Oaklawn Park Invitational and a fourth behind Omaha Beach, Improbable, and Kentucky Derby winner Country House in the Arkansas Derby. He was only a length behind Country House and could take a step forward here.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr. TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
12. Anothertwistafate (6-1): He was second in both the Lexington and the Sunland Derby but faces a tough assignment from post 12. Lost Castellano to Warrior’s Charge, but gets a quality rider in Jose Ortiz. Has some speed, though the distance and wide trip may work against him.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Blaine Wright
13. Win Win Win (15-1): He was ninth in the Kentucky Derby without much of an excuse. Was a fast-closing second in the Blue Grass before that and maybe a dry track will help.
JOCKEY: Julian Pimentel TRAINER: Michael Trombetta
THE PICK: Bourbon War
LIVE LONGSHOT: Bourbon War at 8-1 or more, otherwise Owendale