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Preakness horse-by-horse analysis 2019

Preakness contender War of Will, with exercise rider

Preakness contender War of Will, with exercise rider Kim Carroll aboard, is led out of the barn to exercise, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 18. Credit: AP/Will Newton

A look at each horse in the 2019 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, listed in post position order. (The number next to the horse’s name denotes their program number.)


Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Record: 8-3-1-1

Last 3: 7-9-1

Post: 1 

Odds: 4-1

Was surging into the Derby stretch before Maximum Security's right turn severely impeded him. War of Will and Gaffalione averted a pileup that would have devastated racing. He'll be the sentimental favorite, and nearly everybody who owns a TV saw his horror trip, so the price will be less than it should be. A serious contender, and if you think he's the best horse, you should take it.       


Trainer: Mark Hennig

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Record: 5-2-1-0

Last 3: 4-2-1

Post: 2 

Odds: 12-1

 On paper, he's the best closer in the field. Was too far back in two preps (fourth, second) at speed-favoring Gulfstream, so Hennig adds blinkers in an effort to keep him a bit closer to the pace. I like him the best of all the horses who skipped the Derby, and if War of Will and Improbable don't bounce back from it well, this colt could score at a very nice price. I'm hoping I can get 8-1, and 12-1 would be a gift. A serious threat.


Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Record: 5-2-0-3

Last three: 1-1-3

Post: 3 

Odds: 12-1

This is the stakes debut for a front-runner who's not particularly fast. Never been out of the money, and his connections are terrific, but talk about getting thrown into the deep end. After runaways in a maiden race and an optional claimer, he's destined to be a pace casualty.    


Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Record: 6-3-2-0

Last 3: 4-2-2

Post: 4 

Odds: 5-2

Baffert is going for a record eighth Preakness win, and the rider switch to Smith will cut the odds even further. Never got into contention in the Derby, and he may not want to go the classic distances. City Zip is a strong influence for speed, not stamina, and this overrated colt is 0-for-3 this year. He could win a very diluted Preakness anyway, but I'll be trying to beat him.   


Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Record: 8-3-1-1

Last 3: 1-8-1

Post: 5

Odds: 10-1

Came from ninth to upset a subpar Lexington. Derby also-eligible didn't draw in, which was fortunate for him. Cox and Geroux are rising stars, so his connections are first-rate, but this new shooter doesn't appear to class up. It's his first Grade I, and only his third graded stakes, and I won't be playing him. 


Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Jon Court 

Record: 8-1-1-2

Last 3: 11-3-3

Post: 6

Odds: 30-1

Took five starts to break his maiden, and lost by 37 lengths in the Blue Grass, his last start. Career best was a distant third to Omaha Beach in Grade II Rebel. Fun factoid: Combined ages of Lukas (83) and Court (58) add up to 141. Too bad it's not the 141st Preakness, because  talk about a hunch bet. All-time great Lukas loves to run in the classics, and he's won 14, but ... I guess the owners want to see their silks in the post parade.    


Trainer: Kelly Rubley

Jockey: Daniel Centeno

Record: 12-7-0-1

Last 3: 1-1-1

Post: 7

Odds: 8-1

Local favorite is the King of Laurel, with six straight wins there by an average of 6 lengths. Big minus: He's managed to get easy leads while setting slow fractions against minor leaguers. The quantum leap in class will take him way out of his comfort zone, and this big fish from a small pond will be filleted. Should be a lot higher than 8-1. 


Trainer: Ken McPeek

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Record: 7-2-2-2

Last 3: 3-7-1

Post: 8

Odds: 30-1

Hasn't done anything in two starts this year to suggest he can win a Triple Crown race. His Blue Grass third was uninspiring, and he's 1-for-5 in graded stakes. Not much speed, and final fractions are unimpressive. Out of the money only once in seven tries, but at best he could be third or fourth. Can't see him doing better than that.


Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Jockey: John Velazquez 

Record: 6-0-3-0

Last 3: 13-2-2

Post: 9 

Odds: 20-1

Still winless after six starts, yet Delgado is bringing him back in two weeks and setting him up for more failure. The rough trip in the Derby couldn't have helped his confidence, although he was in the second flight before being bothered indirectly by Maximum Security. He belongs in a race against other non-winners, not a classic. The ultimate toss-out. 


Trainer: Dale Romans

Rider: Joel Rosario

Record: 10-1-1-1

Last 3: 5-9-8

Post: 10

Odds: 50-1

Comment: This last-minute vanity entry expands the field to 13, the biggest since the maximum 14 ran in 2011. He's 0-for-9 since his debut in August at minor-league Ellis Park. His career highlight was finishing second Feb. 2 in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream, but since then he lost by a combined 43 3/4 lengths in the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day. Another automatic throwout.     


Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Record: 7-3-0-0

Last 3: 1-4-7

Post: 11 

Odds: 20-1

Fourth in Arkansas Derby before surging late to take ungraded stakes at Oaklawn Park. Asmussen has more than 8,400 wins, second all-time, and won Preaknesses with Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). Some strong late-pace figs, and he could hit the board if the pace sets him up.            


Trainer: Blaine Wright

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Record: 6-3-2-0

Last 3: 2-2-1

Post: 12

Odds: 6-1

Strong finisher hasn't faced top 3-year-olds, and how strongly should you rate seconds in a weak Lexington and in New Mexico's Sunland Derby? Big negative: 0-for-3 on dirt, with all three wins on synthetic at third-rate Golden Gate. Ortiz is brilliant, but it's horse racing, not jockey racing. Cannot see this guy winning, and the odds should be twice that.


Trainer: Michael Trombetta

Jockey: Julian Pimentel

Record: 7-3-2-1

Last three: 9-2-3

Post: 13 

Odds: 15-1

 For some unfathomable reason, this deep closer became a "wise guy" horse during Derby week, even though his career high point is a 7 3/4-length romp in an ungraded 7-furlong stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January. His final fractions are OK, and at best he might slip into third or fourth. Don't throw away your money on a win bet.   

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