Preakness Stakes 2023: Horse by horse analysis

A Kentucky Derby that appeared on paper to have little pace seemed likely to make it difficult even for the best closers to have a chance. Then, the top late runner and likely favorite Forte was scratched prior to the race, leaving a more open field with greater betting opportunity.

Despite what happened after last year’s blistering fractions led to Rich Strike’s shocking upset, the early runners once again unwisely left too fast, setting up for another unexpected result. A 15-1 longshot in Mage, who finished second to Forte in the Florida Derby, passed a tiring Two Phil’s in the stretch and held off the late-charging favorite Angel of Empire to capture another shocking version of the Run for the Roses.

Now headed to the Preakness, it first appeared that Mage’s job of defending his Triple Crown chances wouldn’t be getting any easier, but some twists in the plan have knocked out strong contenders and left Mage as the only Derby runner to wheel back.

Still, contenders such as Brad Cox’s Lexington winner First Mission, and Chad Brown’s Champagne winner Blazing Sevens will look to knock the Derby victor from his throne. 

Even with a smaller field, getting the Kentucky Derby winner into the Preakness should provide good betting opportunities for some longshot and exotics plays, as well as setting up the storyline for a Triple Crown chase. To spice things up, there’s a locally-based Maryland-bred in the field, too.

Post time for the 148th Preakness is 7:01 PM EDT on Saturday, May 20 as the 13th race on the Pimlico Race Course card. Good luck, and happy Preakness!


1. #8 First Mission (5-2)Intriguing new shooter looks to be maturing nicely

2. #3 Mage (8-5) Derby hero can’t be ignored but likely to be overbet

3. #6 Perform (15-1) —  Tesio winner has found added ground to his liking

4. #5 Red Route One (10-1) Late-running sort will hope for a pace to materialize


1. National Treasure (4-1)

  • TRAINER: Bob Baffert
  • JOCKEY: John Velazquez
  • OWNER: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan 
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-1-1-2
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 4th, Grade I Santa Anita Derby

Off a long layoff from the Santa Anita Derby, National Treasure was aiming for Kentucky after going off as the favorite in Santa Anita, eventually falling behind the top three in that try. Now back in the barn of Bob Baffert, this one will likely show a bit more early speed and conditioning than he has in the past. He doesn’t have a win outside of his maiden, and struggling to handle distance without being on a faster pace isn’t the best sign in this spot. The best scenario he can hope for is one where he takes advantage of softer fractions, potentially holding on to hit the board. With a couple of better options ahead of him, it would need to be a dream trip for this colt by Quality Road to be a true threat. Depending on the value, this could be a nice exotics play given that he is a slight notch below the top ones, but probably better than the true longshots. Blinkers back on and the inside post probably mean look towards the front to find him early.

National Treasure (KY) / T: Bob Baffert

Quality Road – Treasure, by Medaglia d’Oro

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      4 (20 Points)        Santa Anita Derby (SA)

01/08/2023      3 (0 Points)          Sham (SA)

11/04/2022      3 (0 Points)          Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (KEE)

10/08/2022      2 (0 Points)          American Pharoah (SA)

2. Chase the Chaos (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Ed Moger Jr.
  • JOCKEY: Sheldon Russell 
  • OWNER: Adam Ference and Bill Dory
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 8-3-2-1
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 8th, California Derby

A Pennsylvania-bred who has primarily run at Golden Gate, Chase the Chaos won the El Camino Real in February to grab a spot in this field. He hasn’t consistently run close to this class, with his only graded try coming in the Grade II San Felipe in early March. Beaten soundly in that one doesn’t bode well for his chances here, as it will likely take a major step forward from his El Camino to be involved with this field. A good sign is that Rombauer was able to win in a Preakness upset two years ago from the El Camino, but overall inconsistencies in his running style and breaks leave this one as an outsider. The start will be key here, as any position in the back half of the field by the half mile marker probably won’t give him a chance.

Chase the Chaos (PA) / T: Ed Moger, Jr.

Astern (AUS) – Live the Moment, by Uncle Mo

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/29/2023      8                          California Derby (GG)

03/04/2023      7 (0 Points)        San Felipe (SA)

02/11/2023      1 (10 Points)     El Camino Real Derby (GG)

12/03/2022      2                          Gold Rush (GG)

3. Mage (8-5)

  • TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado, Sr.
  • JOCKEY: Javier Castellano
  • OWNER: OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 4-2-1-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Kentucky Derby

Was able to take advantage of another brutal Derby pace and make a strong closing move in the stretch to pass a tiring Two Phils. That race can be interpreted as either an inexperienced horse starting to peak at the right time, or one that got the perfect set up and took advantage of the circumstances. As the only Derby runner to go to Pimlico, this colt will likely be over-bet, and might become a bit overhyped off of his victory. Nevertheless, a lack of proven challengers here still gives him a great chance to grab the second leg of the Triple Crown, even if the pace set up isn’t as advantageous. It will be interesting to see who decides to take the early lead, but if Castellano keeps this one close enough, there aren’t many others who have the turn of foot to keep up late at this stage of their careers. Definitely a top choice, but tread a bit lightly given the odds and some sneaky contenders here.

Mage (KY) / T: Gustavo Delgado

Good Magic – Puca, by Big Brown

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

05/06/2023      1                          Kentucky Derby (CD)

04/01/2023      2 (40 Points)        Florida Derby (GP)

03/04/2023      4 (10 Points)        Fountain of Youth (GP)

4. Coffeewithchris (20-1)

  • TRAINER: John E. Salzman, Jr.
  • JOCKEY: Jaime Rodriguez 
  • OWNER: John E. Salzman, Jr., Fred Wasserloos, and Anthony Geruso
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 12-3-3-2
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 5th, Federico Tesio Stakes

A later entry into this field, Coffeewithchris appears to be a bit overmatched here, despite his experience edge on the others. Besides a disqualification win breaking his maiden, this colt has only crossed the wire first in two lower-level Laurel stakes that do not compare favorably to this group. Distance could be an issue as well, as he has not won a race past eight furlongs. In the Tesio, Coffeewithchris grabbed the early lead but couldn’t hold on in the stretch in his first try at nine furlongs. This is one that may try to leave early with a lack of pace in here, but might not have the speed to gain control of the pace, and would need very favorable fractions to hold on late for a chance to hit the board.

Coffeewithchris (MD) / T: John E. Salzman, Jr.

Ride on Curlin – Andiemac, by Outflanker

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/15/2023      5                          Frederico Tesio (LRL)

03/18/2023      2                          Private Terms (LRL)

02/18/2023      1                          Miracle Wood (LRL)

01/21/2023      2                          Spectacular Bid (LRL)

12/30/2022      1                          Heft (LRL)

12/03/2022      3                          Maryland Juvenile (LRL)

11/12/2022      4                          James F. Lewis III (LRL)

5. Red Route One (10-1)

  • TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
  • JOCKEY: Joel Rosario
  • OWNER: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 9-2-2-1
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Bath House Row Stakes

One with a good bit of experience under his belt, this Asmussen trainee appeared to be firmly on the Kentucky Derby trail coming out of the Grade II Rebel but underwhelmed in the Arkansas Derby leaving him on the outside looking in. His biggest weakness thus far has probably been sluggish starts, leaving far too much ground to cover in all of his stakes tries. The positive is that he has been a consistent finisher and could be one to thrive with the added distance in the Preakness. Going a mile and an eighth in a victory in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn following his Arkansas Derby proved that distance could be his friend. In that try he once again broke slowly, but perhaps took advantage of a lesser field with a late finish to win by a head. More ground to close into should be just what he needs here, although a lack of pace could leave those closer to the pace as stronger plays to hit the board. With the right value and set up, this is definitely one to keep an eye on at a nice price.

Red Route One (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen

Gun Runner – Red House, by Tapit

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/22/2023      1                          Bath House Row (OP)

04/01/2023      6 (0 Points)          Arkansas Derby (OP)

02/25/2023      2 (20 Points)        Rebel (OP)

01/28/2023      2 (8 Points)          Southwest (OP)

11/26/2022      4 (2 Points)          Kentucky Jockey Club (CD)

10/08/2022      3 (3 Points)          Breeders’ Futurity (KEE)

6. Perform (15-1)

  • TRAINER: Claude McGaughey III
  • JOCKEY: Feargal Lynch
  • OWNER: Woodford Racing LLC, Lanes End Farm, Phipps Stable, Ken Langone, and Edward J. Hudson Jr.
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-2-1-1
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Federico Tesio Stakes

One that is clearly peaking at the right time, this McGaughey trainee took six tries to break his maiden before winning the Tesio last time out. His best running style here will likely be from mid-pack, as his quick starts have not ended well when going distance. The Tesio win was particularly impressive with an explosive move in the late stretch, but some of his maiden tries may have actually been against tougher fields looking back. He ran against Raise Cain, Disarm, and Mage in three separate maidens, all who went on to run in the Derby. Making those tries against some classy colts in his division could bode well here, as he has a bit more experience than appears on the surface. Still, a step up in performance would probably be needed to have legitimate winning chances, although this field has not shaped up into one of the stronger Preakness fields compared to years past. Might be a good play at the bottom of exotics, as Shug wouldn’t be entering his first Preakness runner since Orb in 2013 if he didn’t think he could compete. 

Perform (KY) / T: Claude McGaughey III

Good Magic – Jane Says, by Tale of Ekati

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/15/2023      1                          Frederico Tesio (LRL)

7. Blazing Sevens (6-1)

  • TRAINER: Chad Brown
  • JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • OWNER: Rodeo Creek Racing, LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-2-0-2
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

After a win in the Champagne as a two-year-old, this Chad Brown trainee underwhelmed a bit on the Derby trail, but still gained enough points to qualify for Kentucky. Brown opted for a similar path to Early Voting last year, skipping Churchill for a shot at Pimlico. This colt doesn’t have the same speed as Early Voting however, and finished a distant third last time in the Blue Grass. While he won’t be a major upset as a winner, there might be better options stretching out to this distance, and the betting value probably isn’t great at under 10/1. A sharper start than in races past is a must here, but some more consistent closing options make put this one a clear notch below the top two to three contenders here.

Blazing Sevens (KY) / T: Chad Brown

Good Magic – Trophy Girl, by Warrior’s Reward

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      3 (30 Points)        Blue Grass (KEE)

03/04/2023      8 (0 Points)          Fountain of Youth (GP)

11/04/2022      4 (6 Points)          Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (KEE)

10/01/2022      1 (10 Points)        Champagne (BEL)

8. First Mission (5-2)

  • TRAINER: Brad Cox
  • JOCKEY: Luis Saez
  • OWNER: Godolphin, LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 3-2-1-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade III Lexington Stakes

Maybe the most intriguing runner in this field, First Mission enters off of a Lexington win where he stalked a slower pace and picked up the pieces in the stretch. In just his third career start, this could be one that is just beginning to mature, similar to Mage who won the Derby off of just three starts. Finishing ahead of Disarm in the Lexington is a plus, and appearing to not be distance limited should be good here as well. Some more experienced new shooters in here may end up having the edge on race day, but do not appear to have the same upside as First Mission or as strong a win as his Lexington. With another step forward from that one, this colt by Street Sense could end up in a perfect spot here with a chance to knock off the favorite Mage as a top contender.

First Mission (KY) / T: Brad Cox

Street Sense – Elude, by Medaglia d’Oro

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/15/2023      1 (20 Points)        Lexington Stakes (KEE)