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Who will win the 2019 Preakness?

Bourbon War
Laughing Fox
Market King
War of Will
Warriors Charge
Win Win Win

Analyzing the Preakness Contenders

Date: 05/15/2019

Four years ago American Pharoah was a stand out in all his races and went on to sweep the Triple Crown, the first horse to do this since 1978, then things went back to normal with three different horses winning the Triple Crown races both in 2016 and 2017. Then last year Justify broke all the rules by not only winning the Derby without racing as a juvenile, but completing the Triple Crown sweep before retiring after only six starts. Once again we will handicap the probable Preakness field using angles that have pointed at the winner in past years. It is well known that to win the Preakness, you have to have raced in the Kentucky Derby, and if the Derby is not in the horse's past performances he is an immediate toss for the win. In recent years, only Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, Rachel Alexandra in 2009, and Cloud Computing in 2017 skipped the Derby to win, although some would argue Rachel Alexandra was good enough to win the Derby. It should come as no surprise that the top 5 horses in the analysis all ran in the Derby. With neither first place finisher Maximum Security (disqualified to 17th) or official winner (moved up from 2nd) Country House running on Saturday, this could be a wide-open affair. Although Pimlico is often called a speed-favoring oval, in recent years it tends to favor stalkers so we want a horse that stays close to the pace but not setting it.

We also recommend checking workout patterns in the final week since these are a good indicator of who is ready. Not having a work between the Derby and the Preakness used to be a negative, but recent winners Justify, Exaggerator, American Pharoah, California Chrome, I'll Have Another, Shackleford, and Lookin at Lucky (7 of the last 9) did not have a timed work during the 2 week layoff. But note again that all of them came out of the Derby, so with that short layoff a timed work may be unnecessary. Horses not coming from the Derby definitely need a timed work.

Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order. You can view free past performances here from

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Win Win Win tops the analysis this year, and he scored on every angle except one. (Every horse in the analysis had at least 1 race as a juvenile.) The most important angle is that to win the Preakness you had to have raced in the Derby, but not necessarily win it or even run well in it, (he finished 10th beaten 8 1/2 lengths, placed 9th) and this angle scores two points because of how strong it is. He ran to the BRIS pars of 95 as a juvenile (when he won the Heft Stakes - we want an in-the-money finish in juvenile stakes company) and 100 as a 3-year-old (when he won the Pasco at Tampa - we want a stakes win this year). The Derby qualifies under the 30-day layoff limit as it was run 14 days ago. However, he tends to rally from off the pace in a race where stalkers are preferred. Julian Pimentel should retain the ride for trainer Mike Trombetta.

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Improbable ranked second. Although he missed on 2 angles he did come out of the Derby where he finished 5th beaten 3 1/4 lengths, placed 4th. He uses a stalking style (usually 2-4 lengths back early), has the required number of starts at 3 (we want 3-6, only one horse this year failed on this angle), he has stakes wins at 2, and ran to the BRIS par as a juvenile. He still lacks a stakes win this year and his best figure in 2019 was the 98 when 2nd in the Arkansas Derby. Mike Smith is expected to ride for trainer Bob Baffert.

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War of Will is our third choice coming off his 8th place finish (moved up to 7th) in the Derby after suffering interference from Maximum Security. He qualifies on number of starts, stakes performance, and layoff length. He tends to run on or close to the pace rather than actually "stalking", and he failed on both speed figure requirements, with a best juvenile fig of 94 (one point under the par) and a best fig this year of 96. Tyler Gaffalione should retain the ride for trainer Mark Casse.

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Bodexpress ranks 4th, and it shouldn't be a surprise our top 4 all came out of the Derby including this one (finished 14th placed 13th, beaten 15 lengths). He usually stalks the pace, has enough races at 2 and 3, and is coming off the recommended layoff (inside 30 days). However, he did not compete in stakes company as a juvenile nor won a stakes this year, and fails on speed figures with a 90 top as a juvenile and a 98 in the Florida Derby. New jockey John Velazquez picks up the mount for trainer Gustavo Delgado.

Alwaysmining sits alone in 5th place and is our first horse that didn't come out of the Derby. The local hero swept the Laurel prep series for the Preakness - the Miracle Wood, Private Terms, and Federico Tesio - the latter run exactly 4 weeks out, so within the 30 day limit. He has the required stakes win at 3 and also won a stakes as a juvenile, and has enough starts (a whopping 9 as a juvenile then 3 this year). On the downside,along with missing the Derby he is expected to set a hot pace on Saturday, and his figures are short of par, with a juvenile best of 91 and paired 99's leading up to this race. Daniel Centeno rides again for trainer Kelly Rubley.

The next 4 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically.

horse racing Anothertwistafate originally was a front-runner but stalked in his last 2 starts so he earns a point for running style, as well as number of starts at 2 and 3 and a stakes win this year (El Camino Real Derby). He was 2nd last out in the Lexington which was 35 days ago (the limit is 30), he is short on speed figures at 2 and 3, and lacks a stakes start as a juvenile. New rider Jose Ortiz rides for Blaine Wright.

Laughing Fox won the Oaklawn Invitational which was run on Derby day, giving him the required 3-year-old stakes and off a 14 days layoff. He has enough starts at 2 and 3. However he is a deep closer, did not compete in stakes as a juvenile, and failed to meet either BRIS speed figure par, with a 76 top as a juvenile and 96 this year. Ricardo Santana Jr. should get the call for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Owendale comes here off his Lexington win (where he defeated Anothertwistafate), so he has the required stskes win but outside the 30 day layoff limit. His 99 in that race is one short of par, whle his 87 best as a juvenile was well short of the 95 par there. He can stalk the pace, has enough races at 2 and 3, but lacks a stakes start as a juvenile. Florent Geroux should retain the mount for trainer Brad Cox.

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Signalman is the only horse in the field with less than 3 starts this year. After winning the Kentucky Jockey Club as a 2-year-old he has not won a stakes this year. His 99 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile meets par but his 97 in the Blue Grass does not. Also, the Blue Grass was run beyond the 30 day layoff limit. He does qualify on running style as he is able to stalk the pace. Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. should be in the irons for trainer Ken McPeek.

The next 2 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically.

Bourbon War was 4th in the Florida Derby (a 7 week layoff to the Preakness) after finishing a close 2nd in the Fountain of Youth, so he still lacks a stakes win this year. He did compete in the Remsen as a juvenile but finished a distant 4th which also does not qualify. He closes from off the pace, and his speed figures this year are short of par (he did meet par as a juvenile). Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the ride for trainer Mark Hennig.

Everfast was a very late addition to the field, added at the entry box deadline, and comes here off a 5th place finish beaten 10 1/4 lengths in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard. This gives him a prep race inside the 30 day limit. Along with this he did race at 2 and has enough starts at 3, but fails on every other angle. Although he ran in 3 stakes races as a juvenile he did not hit the board in any of them, including finishing last in the Breeders' Futurity. This year his best stakes performance was 2nd in the Holy Bull before finishing poorly in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. His speed figures also fail to meet par. New jockey Joel Rosario rides for trainer Dale Romans.

The bottom 2 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically.

horse racing Market King represents trainer D. Wayne Lukas' record 44th Preakness entrant, but is unlikely to become Lukas' 7th winner. He only qualifies on 2 of our factors - number of starts at 2, and number of starts at 3. He does not have any stakes starts at 2 and this year he was a distant 3rd in one division of the Rebel and a well-beaten 11th in the Blue Grass in his last start, a very weak prep beyond 30 days. His speed figures are short of par (78 best as a juvenile, 88 in the Rebel). Finally, he tends to run on or close to the lead. Regular rider Jon Court retains the mount.

Warrior's Charge supplemented to the Preakness for $150,000, which appears on paper to be a poor decision given he ranks dead last in this analysis. Like Market King he only qualifies on 2 of our factors - number of starts at 2, and number of starts at 3. He has never competed in stakes company, his final prep was an allowance win at Oaklawn 36 days ago, his speed figures are short of par (88 best as a juvenile, 99 in that allowance win). Finally, he tends to set the pace, his two wins being gate-to-wire performances. New jockey Javier Castellano gets the assignment for trainer Brad Cox, who also saddles Owendale.

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