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Steve Matthews' Preakness analysis

A general view of Pimlico Race Course on

A general view of Pimlico Race Course on March 17 in Baltimore. Credit: TNS/Patrick Smith

Profit Line represents Steve Matthews’ judgment of the horse’s chances of winning based on post time odds. Horses should only be played to win or used in exotic wagers if they meet or exceed their profit line.

TOP FOUR PICKS BASED ON PRICE POTENTIAL: 1. PNEUMATIC. 2. SWISS SKYDIVER. 3. MAX PLAYER. 4. AUTHENTIC

1) Excession: This 3-year-old colt needs a small miracle to win. He’s been sidelined since March 14 and would have to improve astronomically on the final numbers to contend. For those looking for a silver lining, he did fire a 5-furlong bullet on Sept. 22.

Morning Line: 30-1 Profit Line: 300-1

2) Mr. Big News: He made big news and made for a big trifecta payout when he outran his odds to finish third at 46-1 in the Derby. This colt delivered a career-best performance that day and the book says he’s 50-50 to bounce (regress). Care to flip a coin? It’s all price dependent, so keep your eyes on the tote.

Morning Line: 12-1 Profit Line: 25-1

3) Art Collector: Comes into the Preakness riding a five-race winning streak but that will only serve to drive down his price. He’s certainly fast enough on the final figures and will be ideally positioned on a track that traditionally favors front-runners but he’s returning from a 55-day layoff, which raises a red flag.

Morning Line: 5/2 Profit Line: 8-1

4) Swiss Skydiver: Sure, she’s a filly, but the numbers are blind to her gender and they say she’s good enough to win on her "A" effort. She also owns an advantageous stalker’s running style and has trained strongly since her last start. Fun fact: Five fillies have won the Preakness, with the last being Rachael Alexandra in 2009.

Morning Line: 6-1 Profit Line: 5-1

5) Thousand Words: Was lucky to escape without serious injury after rearing and falling in the paddock before the Derby, which led to his being scratched. He’s the lesser of the two Bob Baffert entrants (the other being Authentic) but he’s got ability in his own right. Hasn’t raced in 63 days but compiled a solid string of workouts and owns a versatile running style. The $64,000 question: Why add blinkers and potentially engage with Authentic in a speed duel?

Morning Line: 6-1 Profit Line: 20-1

6) Jesus’s Team: He probably should be on the "B" team. Tries hard but appears to be a cut below the top contenders and the distance is likely beyond his scope.

Morning Line: 30-1 Profit Line: 300-1

7) Ny Traffic: Had an open road but needed a good mechanic when he sputtered and retreated in the Derby. If you’re willing to give him a pass on that effort, he hails from the high-octane Saffie Joseph barn and was beaten just a nose by Authentic in the Haskell. It’s all about the price.

Morning Line: 15-1 Profit Line: 30-1

8) Max Player: With his come-from-the-clouds running style he’d probably need a pace meltdown to get top honors, but he’s a must use underneath in the exotics if the odds are right. On the plus side, he makes his peak third start of a new form cycle and logged three tightly grouped workouts since his late-running fifth in the Derby. We’re expecting an intensified late wallop with the cutback in distance and a breakthrough performance.

Morning Line: 15-1 Profit Line: 12-1

9) Authentic: No question his victory in the Derby was authentic. He didn’t break from the gate all that well and then set a swift early pace and gamely fought off Tiz the Law down the stretch. He’s trained ultra-impressively in the interim, as well. Dents in the armor: Horses can deliver exceptional efforts, regardless of fast fractions, when unchallenged on the lead as he was in the Derby. The public loves to overbet horses based solely on their last race.

Morning Line: 9/5 Profit Line: 3-1

10) Pneumatic: A lightly-raced, up-and-comer that could fall through the cracks in the wagering. He tallied a career-best late-pace figure when winning the Pegasus last out and he followed that effort with a 5-furlong bullet drill on Sept. 21. He’s got a tough outside post to overcome but has the tactical speed to get a contending seat heading into the first turn. Rates near the top on my radar if the price is right.

Morning Line: 20-1 Profit Line: 15-1

11) Liveyourbeastlife: Would need to make a beast-like forward move to impact. Has yet to run a final figure that puts him in the same zip code as these. Reality check: Anything can happen in horse racing and odds are the great equalizer.

Morning Line: 30-1 Profit Line: 300-1

STAFF PICKS

Steve Matthews

1. Pneumatic

2. Swiss Skydiver

3. Max Player

4. Authentic

Andrew Gross

1. Art Collector

2. Ny Traffic

3. Authentic

4. Mr. Big News

Todd Sommers

1. Pneumatic

2. Swiss Skydiver

3. Max Player

4. Authentic

Craig Bustin

1. Pneumatic

2. Art Collector

3. Authentic

4. Thousand Words

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