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Submitted by John Conte on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 12:07 PM

John Conte
Preakness Preview, 5/17

Let me get this out of the way first.

There has been little interest in speculating on the outcome of the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes. If you listened to 10 minutes of punditry or 10 hours of punditry this week you heard the same thing. It is impossible to believe any of the colts going up against him on Saturday will deny Justify the second leg of the Triple Crown. He has proven to be heads and tails above any of the three other Kentucky Derby runners who return, Bravazo, Good Magic and Lone Sailor and the four newcomers have much to prove if they are to measure up to Justify or even the Derby runner up Good Magic.

If you are a player who is going to bet the Preakness I will offer you these overriding predictions. Seventy percent of the exactas will be Justify over Good Magic, 15 percent Good Magic over Justify and 15 percent every other combination. For the Trifectas, 70 percent will be Justify over Good Magic over any combination of the remaining 6 while 20 percent will have Justify and Good Magic first and second with any combination of the remaining 6. The other 10 percent of Trifecta tickets will try and insert one of the remaining 6 in between Justify and/or Good Magic.

And as if Justify and Good Magic didn’t need more support take a look at these statistics.

Since 1991 (27 years), only four runners not in the Kentucky Derby went on to win the Preakness.

Last year, Cloud Computing – 3rd in Wood Memorial

2009, Rachel Alexandra after Kentucky Oaks win.

2006, Bernardini after winning the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. That was the year that Barbaro tragically broke down.

2000, Red Bullet after finishing second in the Wood Memorial.

In those 27 Preakness Stakes since 1991 there have been:

141 Kentucky Derby returnees. 23 win, 17 place, 16 show and 16 fourth place finishers.

154 Non Kentucky Derby runners. 4 win, 10 place, 11 show and 11 fourth place finishers.

So…all that being said, why don’t we just take a look at the six other than Justify and Good Magic?

QUIP (12-1) – The morning line third favorite is nonetheless predicted at double digit odds as Justify and Good Magic take all the action. The lightly raced son of Distorted Humor out of the Indian Charlie mare Princess Ash has the perfect balance of tactical speed and stamina on each side of the breeding lines and has already pulled off one big upset when he won the Tampa Bay Derby at $40.20. Trainer by former Bill Mott assistant Rodolphe Brisset, who is off to a 16% start in 2018 with a healthy +3.32 R.O.I. the colt has worked well at Keeneland following a good second behind Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby in his last race. Very capable regular rider Florent Geroux will be in the irons.

LONE SAILOR (15-1) – With all the accolades being justifiably sent the way of the winner and attention paid to Good Magic’s chances of reversing the Kentucky Derby outcome, the public can be forgiven their lack of scrutiny to what was a better than it looks on paper derby run by this Tom Amoss trained colt. After a reserved start in the Louisiana Derby the Majestic Warrior colt made a bit of a premature run, took the lead in deep stretch and then was caught on the wire by Noble Indy. In the Kentucky Derby he was off slowly from just outside of Justify and Good Magic and taken to the rail by jockey James Graham. He was stymied for much of the race yet did make up ground late and was still running through the lane. The trainer, who is at 30% on the year makes a big move by switching from Graham to leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. so a better trip might move him up into the exotics.

SPORTING CHANCE (30-1) – One of two Wayne Lukas trainees in the Preakness in a year when his long ago pupil Todd Pletcher has none, this son of Tiznow is a tricky read. If his horrendous trip in the Pat Day Mile, in which he was checked hard at the 5/8ths marker and eventually forced 8 wide before making an interested late run for fourth can be considered a workout, then his close up third in Good Magic’s Blue Grass win gives him credibility. On the other hand the colt is 0-4 in 2018 with only a pair of third place finishes. Lukas has only won 3 of his last 96 graded stakes starts so he doesn’t get the backing he used to. However, as many with long memories will tell you, there has been more than one time when all of a sudden, there is the coach, reminding us all.

DIAMOND KING (30-1) – In good hands of trainer John Servis who carries a 24% overall and 16% graded stakes success mark. The son of Quality Road out of the Malibu Moon mare Alcorn Moon certainly has the blood lines to sustain the speed he has exhibited in his 5 race career the Preakness distance. Although the colt was a winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, the key Maryland Preakness prep, that race was at Laurel and Diamond King, like every other runner in the race has never even had a public work at Pimlico. Although the Federico Tesio has only produced one third place finish and 7th or worse in the last 8 Preakness’s they have run in, Servis has to be upbeat about the fact that the colt’s first completed two turn race (in his only other two turn try he clipped heels and fell in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last fall) in the Tesio was promising. He’ll have to step up again but it also helps that Servis will give a leg up to Javier Castellano, who rides for the first time.

TENFOLD (20-1) – Although he finished 5th in his Arkansas Derby run, that was only the third race of his career. And 2nd through 5th place (Quip was second) was separated by only a half of a length. This will be just the fourth start of his career and the son of Curlin out of the Tapit mare Temptress could not be more regally bred. Trainer Steve Asmussen has worked the colt well since the Arkansas Derby, once at Oaklawn and twice at Churchill, including a half mile breeze on Monday before shipping. Much is expected of this late starting three-year old and if he does improve to his bloodlines he could be the one that surprises with a run into the top three. Asmussen returns to his first call jock Ricardo Santana, Jr, who was aboard when the colt opened his career with two wins.

BRAVAZO (20-1) – Part two of the Lukas uncoupled entry, Bravazo is another who ran a sneaky good 6th in the Kentucky Derby at 66-1. The son of Awesome Again suffered the fate of a number of the sloppy Derby runners when he was bumped at the start, moved up into mid-pack early, shuffled back again on the back stretch yet stayed within a steady 8 lengths of the pace for the final mile. He of all the runners should like the small field and if he runs back to his upset win in the Grade 2 Risen Star. Leading jockey Luis Saez has taken the mount and the rider’s solid performance with middle-speed type route runners is a definite positive.

The public will likely follow the lead of the morning line and use Quip and/or Lone Sailor in the exotics along with Justify and Good Magic, but if the gods of racing decide to mess with either of those heavyweights we’ll have a nice return.

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