Experts’ Preakness Stakes picks

Saturday’s 149th renewal of the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes features a field of eight topped by Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan. Can Dan secure the Middle Jewel and take a step towards Triple Crown immortality? Or will another runner spoil the party?

Who does have a shot at the roses? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

We asked our experts for their selections, and here is the consensus analysis:

  1. #5 Mystk Dan — If it’s possible for the Kentucky Derby winner to fly under the radar, this guy is. Sure, he had a perfect trip in Louisville, but don’t sleep on what a good race he ran; he was the only runner close to the pace to finish in the top five. For good measure, he owns a win in the slop when he romped in the Southwest.
  2. #9 Imagination – Bob Baffert has eight prior Preakness wins, most of any trainer, and seeks number nine with a runner with plentiful early zip and a bit of a case of seconditis (four times in six starts). Look for him on the lead early.
  3. #3 Catching Freedom – Ran a big one to be fourth in the Kentucky Derby when rallying into fourth with a very good trip similar to that of Mystik Dan, albeit from farther back. He defeated Mystik Dan in the Smarty Jones, won the Louisiana Derby, and rates a big shot here.
  4. #8 Tuscan Gold – The wise-guy horse is trained by Chad Brown, whose two prior Preakness wins both came with horses that had made just three prior starts — same as Tuscan Gold. Plenty of talent if he’s ready to take the next step.
  5. #7 Just Steel – This speedster was part of the early Derby pace, pressing the pace before fading badly to 17th.
  6. #2 Uncle Heavy – The Pennsylvania-bred is trained by University of Maryland grad Butch Reid, so there’s plenty of local angles for this guy, who rallied late to win the Withers. Draw a line through his troubled Wood Memorial trip and you have a runner who should be running at the end but still likely needs to improve.

To see a horse-by-horse analysis and in-depth look at the Preakness Stakes field, please click here.

Gary QuillJohn PiassekDerby Bill WatsonEric RubinMackenzie Pfeiffer
1Catching FreedomMystik DanImaginationTuscan GoldImagination
2Mystik DanTuscan GoldMystik DanJust SteelCatching Freedom
3Uncle HeavyCatching FreedomCatching FreedomMystik DanMystik Dan



  • John Piassek, The Racing Biz Maryland handicapper
  • Eric Rubin, host of Better Betting podcast
  • Gary Quill, co-host of Better Betting and former The Racing Biz Maryland handicapper
  • Derby Bill Watson, legendary former Colonial Downs on-air analylyst
  • Mackenzie Pfeiffer, Maryland Jockey Club on-air analyst