Preakness Stakes 146 Cheat Sheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
by Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)
1. RAM (30-1) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas won the Preakness (G1) six times from 1980-2013, but a record-tying seventh win in this classic would come as a huge shock. As recently as March 27, this son of American Pharoah was beaten 23 lengths in a maiden special weight, his sixth unplaced finish in his first seven starts. He’s righted the ship in his last two, graduating for a $50,000 claiming tag and then upsetting a first-level allowance on the Kentucky Derby Day card at Churchill Downs. However, it’s hard to see him improving the many more lengths necessary to pull off a Triple Crown race victory in his stakes debut, which is very much an historical rarity.
2. KEEPMEINMIND (15-1) – Turned in his best effort of the season thus far in the Kentucky Derby (G1), overcoming an early caboose trip and passing more than half of the field to post a seventh-place finish as the co-longest shot on the board. Another strong pace would aid his chances here, but still gives the impression that there hasn’t been much, if any, progression off his decent juvenile form. Deep closers like him are generally at a disadvantage in this race.
3. MEDINA SPIRIT (9-5) – No matter how one feels about the fallout from his first-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, the bottom line is that this unusually soft renewal, which failed to attract the three colts who lost the Derby to him by a length or less, gives him a built-in edge from a form and speed figure perspective. He might truly be better than these, and it would be no surprise if that proves the case again. What this colt hasn’t yet done to any sort of satisfaction is win from off the pace after yielding the early advantage to others, and chances are stablemate Concert Tour is the one who will have the target on his back heading into the first turn. The circumstances at the start of the Derby, where the likely speed failed to materialize for various reasons, turned out favorably for him when Velazquez decided to send, a scenario that seems unlikely to be replicated. From an overall wagering standpoint, the time to have him was two weeks ago at 12-1. He’s obviously not as great a bargain at 9-5 or less.
4. CROWDED TRADE (10-1) – Brings a profile quite similar to that of Cloud Computing, who upset this race four years ago as a 13-1 chance for Chad Brown. Both colts won on debut going six furlongs over the winter and then finished second in the Gotham (G3) and third in the Wood Memorial (G2). Although Cloud Computing was a distant third in the Wood, at least that renewal had some depth to it. In contrast, this year’s edition was one of its least distinguished – a slow affair with the top two finishing 13th and 18th in the Kentucky Derby. This colt threatened to win the Wood in mid-stretch, but hung late while signaling that perhaps he might be better suited around one turn. He should come on for that experience, though, and is one of the more appealing alternatives to the Baffert duo.
5. MIDNIGHT BOURBON (5-1) – Certainly didn’t get to run his race in the Kentucky Derby when unexpectedly not sent to establish better early position. Closers didn’t fare particularly well, generally, so the fact he managed to rally for sixth after conceding so much ground early is worthy of some credit. Twice finished ahead of Mandaloun over the winter at Fair Grounds, so the class and ability is there to rebound for a barn that won this race with Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). However, he’s another that, pedigree notwithstanding, has raised doubts whether 1 3/16 miles is what he truly wants, given his tendency to fade late in the final furlong in most of his longer attempts.
6. ROMBAUER (12-1) – Sidestepped the Derby after finishing a non-threatening third in the Blue Grass (G2), undoubtedly a wise move given the form didn’t quite pan out in the end with Essential Quality fourth and Highly Motivated farther up the track. On the plus side, the moderate tempo of the Blue Grass allowed this colt to rate closer to the pace that day and his effort was decent given a less-than-clean start. Hasn’t yet run fast enough to suggest he’s sitting on a potential upset score with a likely better pace setup, nor has he actually won on dirt yet, but appears a useful inclusion on the bottom of trifecta and superfecta plans.
7. FRANCE GO DE INA (20-1) – Although his sire, Will Take Charge, didn’t fire in this race back in 2013, he wound up as champion three-year-old colt anyway. And this colt is out of a mare by 2007 Preakness winner and Horse of the Year Curlin, so from a pedigree perspective he has something going for him. That said, it’s hard to know how he truly stacks up against this field off two relatively minor wins in Japan and a distant sixth-place run in the UAE Derby (G2), though the default answer might simply be “not well.” Taking a wait-and-see approach while viewing him as a potentially more viable Belmont S. (G1) candidate.
8. UNBRIDLED HONOR (15-1) – This is the only classic that has so far eluded trainer Todd Pletcher, though he generally dislikes wheeling any of his Kentucky Derby runners back in two weeks, even if they actually won the Derby (both Super Saver and Always Dreaming fared poorly at Pimlico). This colt’s second-place finish in the Lexington (G3) was decent, though the hot pace certainly helped both him and runaway winner King Fury. With the latter’s scratch from the Kentucky Derby, we never got to see how the form of that race would have worked out. However, the form of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), in which he finished a distant fourth, was on display at Churchill Downs and the results weren’t good. Lacks positional speed and, like Keepmeinmind, is probably at a significant disadvantage unless there is a total pace meltdown with simultaneous regression from a number of others.
9. RISK TAKING (15-1) – Re-routed from last week’s 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G3), a one-turn race that probably would not have suited him as well as this two-turn heat. The addition of blinkers and stretch out over the winter obviously flipped a switch, which makes his dud in a weak renewal of the Wood Memorial that more puzzling. While obviously a sub-par performance, the form of that race (as noted earlier) took a beating in the Kentucky Derby. Certainly eligible to bounce back here and with a pace much faster than he was used to seeing at Aqueduct, but would also demand every bit of a 12-1 to 15-1, given lingering class concerns.
10. CONCERT TOUR (5-2) – Visually impressive in taking the Rebel (G2), and there was a widespread belief he’d vie for Derby favoritism with a convincing follow-up in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Not only did the latter not pan out, when he and Caddo River more or less dueled each other into submission, but he was taken out of Derby consideration altogether after the unheralded Super Stock passed them both and Caddo River re-rallied to edge this one for second. Only his stablemate-under-a-cloud appears to have the requisite speed to keep him honest and, if allowed to set a more sensible pace, he could prove tough to run down as was the case two starts back.