We are set to complete this year’s triple crown season, and like everything else in 2020, it is a gigantic mess. The final leg of the triple crown is always the Belmont Stakes, but this year that actually was the first leg, and now we round everything out with the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico. But enough with the confusion; we have a wide-open race to break down. Unfortunately, with Tiz the Law not winning the Kentucky Derby, this race has lost some of its luster. That will hurt interest, but at the same time, from a betting standpoint this makes the races much more appealing, and you will get a good price on most of these horses.
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Preakness Stakes Field
Post Time: 5:45 p.m. EST Saturday, Oct. 3 at Pimlico
1: Excession 30-1 – One of the longest shots in the race draws the rail here with Excession and jockey Sheldon Russell. This horse hasn’t run since March, and there isn’t a ton to look at that leads you to think he will be a factor in this spot. The long layoff I guess adds to the mystery, but against a field like this he would need a major step up to catch a piece of the board.
2: Mr. Big News 12-1 – This horse was a super long shot at the Kentucky Derby and made a tremendous move late to rally and finish third. This made some of the exotics big-time payoffs, and now we see a more reasonable price on this morning line. He once again will be looking to make a move when turning from home, but the odds are much shorter this time around. I don’t think he has the ability to win the race, but if you wanted to put him in the pool for exotics, it makes some sense.
3: Art Collector 5/2 – This was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby, and unfortunately we never got the chance to see him in action. He was a scratch early in Derby week, and although it was precautionary, it changed the entire complexion of that race. He now is healthy and ready to go with Brian Hernandez aboard and sits as the near favorite at 5-2. He should be sitting close to the lead throughout, and he has to be considered a strong contender despite the recent injury.
4: Swiss Skydiver 6-1 – Rachel Alexandra took down a Preakness Stakes a decade ago, but it’s a tall task for a filly to get a piece of the triple crown. Swiss Skydiver is a speed ball who should be right out front and will try and set reasonable fractions as they turn for home. She has been in big races before and actually lost to Art Collector back in July, so she is familiar with some of the top-end competition. It is a tough spot to think she can overtake the top horses, but she belongs in the conversation.
5: Thousand Words 6-1 – After Art Collector scratched I shifted a lot of interest to Thousands Words, who proceeded to flip in the paddock and also was scratched before the race. Before that he had been racing out in California and racked up some big races. The last time out he won the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar with a quality 107 speed figure. He has experience in some graded stakes, including a win at the Los Alamitos Futurity back in December of 2019. Florent Geroux is aboard with Baffert training, and if you are looking for an upset pick, this is one to consider.
6: Jesus’ Team 30-1 – This is a horse we haven’t seen in the other triple crown races, and that’s partly why he sits as the longest shot on the board. Nothing about him stands out in any way, and the speed figures aren’t good enough to compete against the top horses in this field. He was third in the Jim Dandy Stakes but would need to improve on that effort to hit the board here. He shouldn’t be setting the pace but also isn’t a dead closer, so I would expect a middle-of-the-pack position with Jevian Toledo aboard.
7: NY Traffic 15-1 – NY Traffic was picking up steam before the Kentucky Derby, and he was worth considering if you went against Tiz the Law. Unfortunately, he didn’t run well and finished out of contention without any reasonable excuse except he just didn’t have it. He now comes into this field with less interest and a new jockey aboard in Horacio Karamanos. NY Traffic almost beat Authentic a few starts back, so there is no doubting the top-end talent if we get the best out of him on Saturday. This is a price-depending play for me as 15-1 is enticing, but I won’t back him if he creeps down closer to post time.
8: Max Player 15-1 – Paco Lopez is aboard a horse who will be looking to close strong and catch what he hopes will be a furious pace upfront. Max Player finished fifth at the Derby, but this race is shorter, which isn’t ideal for a horse like this. The good news is there are a bunch of horses that are going to try to get to the front, and that could set up some ridiculous fractions to close into. He has to be considered in exotics even if you think ultimately he will come up short as he charges late.
9: Authenic 9-5 – The favorite and horse to beat according to the morning line is the Kentucky Derby champion and the horse that took down Tiz the Law. He obviously has the talent to win, and his resume holds up as worthy to be the favorite. The big question to me is how will he deal with horses like Art Collector and Thousand Words, who both scratched before the Kentucky Derby. He got a great trip at the Derby and will try to recreate that game plan of being upfront and not getting in a speed duel too early. The heat will be on, though, as a lot of horses want that lead, and that will make this a difficult test for the favorite.
10: Pneumatic 20-1 – We have Joe Bravo aboard the fourth-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, who certainly has to be considered a viable longshot. In his five career starts he has three wins, and one of those was his most recent race out at Monmouth Park. He has two speed figures north of 100, and if I had to take a complete longshot to win this race, it would be Pneumatic at 20-1.
11: Liveyourbeastlife 30-1 – The final horse in the race is the 11 Liveyourbeastlife, who is another horse looking to spoil the party as a big longshot. He is coming off a second-place finish at the Jim Dandy, where he racked up a 107 speed figure, the best of his career. In eight career starts he has just two wins, but he does seem to hit the board with four top threes out of those eight races. He should be looking to close late in this race, but I prefer horses like Max Player who also want to make that late charge.
Without a possible Triple Crown Winner, we lose some of the excitement around the final leg of Triple Crown Season. Tiz the Law choosing to skip the race was predictable, but we now turn to a handful of talented horses who weren’t able to be in the Kentucky Derby and want to post a marquee win. The other storyline is the favorite in Authentic, who could stake his own claim as a superstar if he is able to capture two of the triple crown events.
For me, if Art Collector is healthy, then that is the horse I will be backing. I liked him before the Derby, and he has done nothing to change that mindset. He has shown his ability to battle in the stretch and will not let Authentic stroll to an easy lead in this spot. Horses like Thousand Words and Max Player are worthy of being in the exotic pool, and if you can hit that combo without Authentic, you will be in line for a big pay day on Saturday.
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