Longtime Sportswriters Analyze 2024 Preakness Stakes Field, Offer Race Selections

Preakness Stakes, Catching Freedom, Pimlico, Triple Crown, Eclipse Sportswire
Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Catching Freedom trains on the racetrack May 16 at Pimlico in advance of the Preakness Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Bob Ehalt and Tom Pedulla became fast friends when they met on their first day at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1970. Bob soon introduced Tom to the joys of Thoroughbred racing.

weekend Television schedule

Friday, May 17: 1-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, May 18: 12:30-5 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. on FS2; 1:30-4:30 p.m. on CNBC; 4:30-7:30 p.m. on NBC; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, May 19: 12:30-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

They have endured some rough moments at the track, with Tom taking exception when Bob repeatedly smacks him on the back with a program as one of their horses launches an all-out drive. Much to Tom’s chagrin and the amusement of onlookers, Bob has been known to call for security as he proceeds to cash a $27 triple.

They have owned a number of horses together and were part of the group that owned 1998 Whitney runner-up Tale of the Cat. They are often seen carrying on as if they never left their teenage years.

Here is their take on the 149th Preakness Stakes, to be run Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course:

PEDULLA: Bob, I had Sierra Leone, Forever Young, and Catching Freedom in my top four at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. But I guess that is nothing to brag about since my lone miss was a big one – Mystik Dan. As you well know, not the first time I came close but not close enough. I am still not a believer in Mystik Dan. My Preakness pick is Catching Freedom. He won the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby at the 1 3/16-mile Preakness distance, so we know he can handle ground. Trainer Brad Cox’s willingness to run him back two weeks after the Kentucky Derby tells us this colt is doing well. As long as Catching Freedom gets a solid pace, he will get the job done.

Preakness Stakes, Imagination, Pimlico, Triple Crown, Eclipse Sportswire
Imagination exercises on the main track at Pimlico. (Eclipse Sportswire)

EHALT: Well, Thomas, our combined weight of expectations was a tad too much for Sierra Leone, but we are spreading our notorious jinx around in the Preakness. I expected Bob Baffert to run 1-2 with Muth and Imagination. Now with Muth out of the race, I’ll daydream a bit and let my Imagination run away with me. Can’t bet against Baffert in this spot with a 3-year-old who showed some determination in a narrow Santa Anita Derby loss.

PEDULLA: Arkansas Derby winner Muth would have been my top pick but the “other” Baffert starter, Santa Anita Derby runner-up Imagination, has much to commend him. He is extremely consistent, never running a bad race. He will run a very good one here.

EHALT: No need to worry about the "other" Chad here, so I’ll take Chad Brown’s lone starter, Tuscan Gold, for second. Brown’s Triple Crown starters are usually very competitive and Tuscan Gold fits his model of success with his best Preakness runners: lightly raced and skipped the Kentucky Derby. It was Baffert and Chad running 1-2 last year and this year will be an encore in Baltimore.

PEDULLA: Chad Brown looks to rebound from a brutal beat in remaining winless in the Derby. In contrast, he is a two-time winner of the Preakness. He has to be respected here with lightly raced but talented Tuscan Gold, who must improve significantly after running third to Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby.

Preakness Stakes, Uncle Heavy, Pimlico, Triple Crown, Eclipse Sportswire
Uncle Heavy trains at Pimlico (Eclipse Sportswire)

EHALT: Mystik Dan had a dream trip in the Kentucky Derby and narrowly won. It’s asking a lot for lightning to strike twice, but if it rains Saturday you have to respect him. I’ll hedge by putting him in the third spot on my tickets.

PEDULLA: I am going to take a shot with Uncle Heavy to nab fourth. Although he was well beaten in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino in his last start, he fell victim to a poor trip as much as anything. With Irad Ortiz Jr. getting a leg up this time, he is eligible to improve in a big way.

EHALT: Butch Reid doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves for turning out quality runners. When he ships to New York, I’ll include his horses in my tickets. Liked the way Uncle Heavy closed late to win the Withers Stakes, and with Irad Ortiz Jr. taking the mount he’s definitely worth using in the exotics at the kind of price you rarely get with Irad.

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