Preakness HORSE-BY-HORSE ANALYSIS
After one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history, this year’s Preakness will be run without the stunning Derby winner Rich Strike, who will opt out to aim for the Belmont. On first glance, this field seems to be dominated by Epicenter, who ran a very tough second at Churchill after sitting off a brutally quick pace. In most other years, he would have hung on to be a deserving winner there, and with less competition plus slower fractions, the second jewel of the Triple Crown appears to be an easier spot.
Perhaps Epicenter’s greatest competition will come from the filly, Secret Oath, a convincing winner of the Kentucky Oaks who takes her second shot against the boys in this test. She ran third versus the boys in the Arkansas Derby earlier this year
Just two years ago, Swiss Skydiver became the sixth filly to win the Preakness, so the precedent has been set for a strong performance by Secret Oath in this race.
Likely pace-setters Early Voting and Armagnac could also muddy the waters for Epicenter if he chooses to be more forward here, setting the race up for more versatile runners such as Simplification who closed well in Kentucky. Some lesser-known new shooters will round out the field, making this an intriguing version of the Preakness that will be focused on a few top contenders. Post time for the race will be 7:01 EDT.
1. #8 Epicenter (6-5)
2. #1 Simplification (6-1)
3. #5 Early Voting (7-2)
4. #4 Secret Oath (9-2)
(The past performances include all points races. Click the race to see video of the race in a popup. The PP running line includes race date, finish position, points earned, race name, and track).
1. Simplification (6-1)
- TRAINER: Antonio Sano
- JOCKEY: John Velazquez
- OWNER: Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric
- LIFETIME RECORD: 8-3-1-2
- MOST RECENT RACE: 4th, Grade I Kentucky Derby
This colt by Not this Time showed more tactical speed in Florida than he did in Kentucky, but being positioned off the pace clearly worked to his benefit there. He has shown some running style versatility in the past, and was well under-bet in the Derby at 35/1 based on his solid preps. A lot of his performance here will be predicated on where his new rider John Velaquez positions him out of the gate, as being up on the lead might wear him thin at this distance. This isn’t one to overlook even if he may not be the top choice here drawing the rail, as he has typically run well and could be a good play to hang on and hit the board.
|Simplification (FL) / T: Antonio Sano|
|Not this Time – Simply Confection, by Candy Ride (ARG)|
2. Creative Minister (10-1)
- TRAINER: Kenneth McPeek
- JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr.
- OWNER: Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC
- LIFETIME RECORD: 3-2-1-0
- MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Allowance
McPeek and the connections decided to pay the supplemental fee of $150,000 to enter this lightly-tested colt into the Preakness which certainly speaks to their confidence following an impressive allowance optional claiming win on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Visually, all of his efforts have been top-notch, but a significant step up in class is usually hard to overcome for a younger horse. Granted, this is a smaller field and distance does not appear to be an issue for this closer who still had plenty left in his last two victories. Creative Minister could be a tad overbet due to McPeek’s past success of winning Triple Crown races big swings, though this surely is a big swing. This is one that could be included in exotics if the value is right, looking for odds over the morning line of 10/1, and will have a good closing chance if others are able to press Early Voting in the first half mile.
|Creative Minister (KY) / T: Kenneth McPeek|
|Creative Cause – Tamboz, by Tapit|
|05/07/2022 1 Allowance (CD)|
3. Fenwick (50-1)
- TRAINER: Kevin McKathan
- JOCKEY: Florent Geroux
- OWNER: Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable
- LIFETIME RECORD: 6-1-1-0
- MOST RECENT RACE: 11th, Grade II Blue Grass
A puzzling late addition to the Preakness field, this colt by Curlin took five tries to break his maiden, finally running well after being put on the early lead. Following that victory, his connections entered him in the Blue Grass, where he fell well behind early and was never a factor, finishing last. This will likely be the longest shot on the board, and unlike Derby longshot Rich Strike, there aren’t any indications that he will improve here. Breaking well is a must, but there are more established speed horses that should be able to outrun Fenwick to the first turn. At the very least, this could be one to press Epicenter and Early Voting more than they would prefer, so he could end up being a factor even if he doesn’t hang on to hit the board.
|Fenwick (KY) / T: Kevin McKathan|
|Curlin – Make the Sun Shine, by Malibu Moon|
|04/09/2022 11 Blue Grass (KEE)|
4. Secret Oath (9-2)
- TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas
- JOCKEY: Luis Saez
- OWNER: Briland Farm
- LIFETIME RECORD: 8-5-0-2
- MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Kentucky Oaks
The filly of this field happens to be one of the most experienced and has five career trips to the winner’s circle after capturing the Kentucky Oaks last time out. She was clearly the best in that try, getting a tremendous ride from Luis Saez who stays in the irons here. In the Arkansas Derby, Secret Oath attempted a similar move, picking off six horses going around the far turn into the stretch, but ran out of gas late. She is clearly supremely talented, but it could take a couple breaks going her way to come from mid pack at this distance. The pace will need to be quick, and Saez will need to put forth another strong, sweeping move to move her up into the top group. If the top horses, mainly Epicenter, get away easily and run their race, it will be tough for this one to win. Still, using her in exotics and to hit the board could be a decent value play here.
|Secret Oath (KY) / T: D. Wayne Lukas|
|Arrogate – Absinthe Minded, by Quiet American|
5. Early Voting (7-2)
- TRAINER: Chad Brown
- JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz
- OWNER: Klaravich Stables
- LIFETIME RECORD: 3-2-1-0
- MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade II Wood Memorial
A winner of the Grade III Withers Stakes, this Chad Brown trainee has gone to the front in back-to-back starts, including an impressive second in the Wood Memorial last time out. Early Voting set a solid pace in that one, only to be run down by a hard charging Mo Donegal who came back to run well in the Derby. This should be the pace-setter in the field with Epicenter sitting off, although he could show more versatility and tuck into second if a new shooter decides to take initiative early. Could be telling that Jose Ortiz took this mount over Simplification, but still might be a tough winning spot at this distance given that nine furlongs could be his limitation with this running style. A strong ride by Ortiz and moderate fractions could put this colt in good position to hang on in the money here.
|Early Voting (KY) / T: Chad Brown|
|Gun Runner – Amour d’Ete, by Tiznow|
- Jock Sheldon Russell wins first start in nine monthsHeldish, trained by Brittany Russell, won at first asking to give jockey (and her husband) Sheldon Russell a victory in his first ride in over nine months.
6. Happy Jack (30-1)
- TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
- JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione
- OWNER: Calumet Farm
- LIFETIME RECORD: 5-1-0-2
- MOST RECENT RACE: 14th, Kentucky Derby
Looked well overmatched going into the Derby after some distant finishes in prep races, yet oddly went off at 23/1. He didn’t get the kindest of breaks, but not poor enough to excuse dropping to eighteenth in the early going. Finishing fourteenth by nineteen lengths in that one makes it tough to construct a case for this longshot here, especially after four straight efforts of not finishing within 10 lengths of the winner. Will make some changes with a new jockey in Tyler Gaffalione and adds blinkers which should put him closer to the early pace. Ultimately, outside of a first time out maiden victory, this colt by Oxbow has struggled to be competitive, and even in a weaker overall field here, it would be tough to see a scenario where he is a winning threat.
|Happy Jack (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill|
|Oxbow – Tapistry, by Tapit|
7. Armagnac (12-1)
- TRAINER: Tim Yakteen
- JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.
- OWNER: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable, & Siena Farm LLC
- LIFETIME RECORD: 5-2-0-1
- MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Allowance
Former Baffert trainee didn’t run well in either stakes effort, then dropped down into allowance optional claiming company to win by over four lengths with a front-running score. As with others here, keeping up with Early Voting will be difficult, and winning seems like a stretch. He actually ran a day after the Kentucky Derby in Santa Anita, so is working on less rest than this field, making this an even tougher uphill battle. His best chance to be competitive comes in a scenario where Early Voting doesn’t break well and can’t get the early lead, with very soft fractions for the first half mile. Just seems like one to leave out of exotics especially if the value isn’t there.
|Armagnac (KY) / T: Tim Yakteen|
|Quality Road – Kitty Wine, by Lemondropkid|
8. Epicenter (6-5)
- TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
- JOCKEY: Joel Rosario
- OWNER: Winchell Thoroughbreds
- LIFETIME RECORD: 7-4-2-0
- MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade I Kentucky Derby
This likely favorite wisely sat off the leaders in a grueling Derby pace, but was still close to a lead where none of the top group finished strongly. In many ways, his race was as impressive as Rich Strike’s, since he held off a strong stretch charge from Zandon who got a more favorable trip being comfortably off the pace. A strong second-place performance there and the assumption that he came out of that defeat in good form clearly puts him a cut above the rest here. With a much smaller field, Rosario can elect to position Epicenter on the lead or sit off of Early Voting and others, but shouldn’t have to worry about a 45-second half. Clear top choice who should be included in all exotics tickets.
|Epicenter (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen|
|Not This Time – Silent Candy, by Candy Ride(ARG)|
9. Skippylongstocking (20-1)
- TRAINER: Saffie Joseph
- JOCKEY: Junior Alvarado
- OWNER: Daniel Alonso
- LIFETIME RECORD: 9-2-1-2
- MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade II Wood Memorial
Finished third in the Wood Memorial behind Early Voting and Mo Donegal, but was making a nice closing move in that one late, and picked up a win at Gulfstream in early March. Will need to take a step forward here, especially if there isn’t a ton of early pace in this field to close into. Even then, more accomplished runners like Simplification who could close from off the pace seem like a better option in that scenario, or even Secret Oath coming from mid pack. This could be good value as a longshot play to maybe get up for fourth or even third, but winning here seems like a stretch unless the pace is torrid. Having Preakness winner Exaggerator as his sire might be a plus especially if the track turns out to be a little softer if it rains.
|Skippylongstocking (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph|
|Exaggerator – Twinkling, by War Chant|
- BackTracks: Challedon, dominant in Maryland & beyondIn today’s BackTracks, Maryland-bred Challedon became the first two-time horse of the year after dominating 1939 and 1940.