2018 Preakness Cheat Sheet
By J.J. Hysell, Hello Race Fan's Contributor
2018 Preakness Replay
So you want to watch the 2018 Preakness on Saturday but you have no idea who’s running. Not to worry! Here’s a thumbnail of the field in order of post position with morning line odds.
1. Quip (12-1) – He had enough qualifying points for the Derby, but connections elected to bypass that race and instead train up to the Preakness. The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby runner-up boasts the advantage of coming in a fresh horse off five weeks’ rest. Although his speed figures are a cut below those of Justify and Good Magic, this colt’s record is quite impressive; the lone poor showing is a seventh-place finish last November in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He boasts a similar stalking style to that of Justify and could pose an early pace challenge to the favorite. He also has the benefit of talented jockey Florent Geroux, who piloted 2017 Breeders’ Cup winner Gun Runner and 2018 Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl. A sloppy track would be a question mark for this Rodolphe Brisset trainee.
2. Lone Sailor (15-1) – Although he’d romped in the slop early in his career, the quagmire of the Derby proved a tough challenge for the Tom Amoss trainee. The colt got off to a slow start, was shifted to the rail where he encountered a traffic jam, and lost a shoe during the race, finishing eighth. Although he hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since last September, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby runner-up earned a solid education in his Derby scuffle. He switches from jockey James Graham to Irad Ortiz Jr. Look for him to make a late-running move down the Pimlico stretch.
3. Sporting Chance (30-1) – The D. Wayne Lukas trainee was quite a force as a 2-year-old when he boasted a pace-setting/press-the-pace style, including winning the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga. Unable to challenge the likes of Magnum Moon and Good Magic as a mid-pack stalker in Kentucky Derby preps, the colt cut back in distance and finished fourth in the sloppy Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard. He appears overmatched here, but with a smaller field and the increased distance, it’s understandable Lukas wants to try his hand. Jockey Luis Contreras, aboard in the Pat Day Mile, retains the mount.
4. Diamond King (30-1) – Trainer John Servis has been to the Preakness once before – with 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, whose Triple Crown bid was nailed at the wire by Birdstone in the Belmont. While this is a markedly different scenario, Diamond King, winner of the Federico Tesio on April 21, belongs with these. Victorious in three of four races as a 2-year-old, he opened his 3-year-old season with a third-place finish after a tough trip from the rail in the Grade 3 Swale. With his running style, he’ll likely be part of the early pace scenario and could try to test Justify. Jockey Javier Castellano, winner of the 2017 Preakness aboard Cloud Computing, gets the call. Exotics candidate at a nice price.
5. Good Magic (3-1) – This classy colt’s runner-up Derby performance – 2 1/2 lengths behind Justify – was quite impressive considering it was his first adventure over a sloppy track. He also endured a tougher trip than Justify with more kickback, as he was as far back as fifth early in the race. The Chad Brown trainee will need to show marked improvement to overtake that rival here, but an even playing field in the form of a fast track would help his cause. Brown, who won this race last year with his first Preakness starter, 13-1 shot Cloud Computing, continues to laud the chestnut colt’s physical fitness and said he emerged from the Derby in fine order. “He’s doing far better than I expected exiting the Derby,” Brown said. “It’s remarkable to see how well the horse is moving and his energy level. He already has his weight back.” While Good Magic is the most likely challenger to turn the tables on Justify, it’s important to note both the top two Derby finishers drew favorable post positions for that race (Justify 7, Good Magic 6). Post position always plays a critical role at Pimlico and both have drawn well again.
6. Tenfold (20-1) – Show (3rd) – Like Justify, this Steve Asmussen trainee didn’t race at two and began his racing career in February. As was the case with Justify in the Derby, Tenfold will be shipping to a new track for the first time. His first two races at two turns at Oaklawn Park were rather impressive, but he failed to progress in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, finishing fifth after pressing the pace early under jockey Victor Espinoza. One of two sons of Curlin entered in the race (Good Magic is the other), this colt appears very talented with a bright future, but he’ll have to overcome significant inexperience compared to his rivals to be competitive on Saturday. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., aboard for Tenfold’s first two wins, returns to the saddle.
7. Justify (1-2) – Winner – The Kentucky Derby favorite silenced any doubters with his resounding win in adverse conditions at Churchill Downs, a victory that prompted trainer Bob Baffert to vault him into a class with his 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Arrogate and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The undefeated chestnut emerged from the trying test over a sloppy track with what was deemed a “minor foot bruise.” The colt has galloped over the Churchill Downs surface daily and, according to assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, has healed well from the issue and is ready to go. “Those things take sometimes 48 hours to resolve themselves, so now we just march forward to Baltimore,” Barnes said. While wheeling back just two weeks after such a demanding race is not ideal, Baffert – winner of six Preaknesses – noted that Justify appears to have maintained his colossal pre-Derby weight and fitness level. “The next day (after the Derby), when I brought him out, he was so bright and full of energy,” Baffert said, “I was pretty impressed myself. Usually, all my Derby winners, it takes them about five days to really snap out of it.” With jockey Mike Smith aboard, Justify tracked pacesetter Promises Fulfilled in a perfect stalking trip and held Good Magic at bay for his Run for the Roses win. Although no declared front-runner like Promises Fulfilled stands out in the Preakness, it’s likely Justify will deal with speedy Quip and possibly Diamond King in the early stages of the 1 3/16-miles test. Neither has shown the speed to outduel Baffert’s behemoth, and none of the closers in the rest of the field appear threatening to this top 3-year-old. He’s clearly the one to beat.
8. Bravazo (20-1) – Place (2nd) – One of two entries for six-time Preakness-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas (Sporting Chance is the other), the colt ran very well in the Derby slop, overcoming post 13 and 66-1 odds for a solid sixth-place finish. Bumped at the start and at one point five-wide, the veteran runner – who will make his 10th start on Saturday – just ran out of steam late in the stretch. Jockey Luis Saez will be aboard for the first time and his mount’s placement in the race will be key; he’s won from both a stalking position and from mid-pack. A solid candidate for exotics.