The 148th Preakness Stakes will be run on Saturday, May 20. Held at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland, the Preakness is the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown series, following the Kentucky Derby. The Belmont Stakes will complete the trilogy. The favorite for the event is Mage. Mage won the Kentucky Derby at 15/1, producing a well-timed run from the back of the field to record an impressive win.
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Preakness Stakes 2023 – Analysis and Picks
Distance: 1 3/16 miles (9.5 furlongs)
Purse: $1.5 million
TV Coverage: NBC, 430pm EST
The field for the Preakness Stakes has cut up quite badly. As a result, only eight go to post. After the Kentucky Derby, the ways of modern horse racing mean that owners and trainers don’t want to impose such a grueling schedule on their valuable 3-year-olds. So everybody scatters to plot their own way through the rest of the season. In fact, Mage is the only Kentucky Derby runner to take his chance here, with a chance of Triple Crown glory at stake. So let’s look at the field and assess his chances.
Mage – 6/5 – Trainer: G Delgado Jockey: J Castellano
Mage was winning the Kentucky Derby on only his 4th career start. He came into that race unexposed and indeed showed the improvement needed to win the Run for the Roses. However, settling towards the back of the field, Mage showed a nice turn of foot to move through the field and actually won pretty comfortably.
My concern here is the quick turnaround. That race was two weeks ago and is not an easy contest. Consequently, Mage must prove that he is as tough to turn out again so quickly and reproduce that form. On the other hand, the field is full of potential improvers willing to expose and fatigue he shows.
First Mission – 11/4 – T: B Cox J: L Saez
First Mission comes into this, having had only three career starts. Owned by the global powerhouse Godolphin, First Mission won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes on April 15. Connections know exactly how to get one ready for this, and it would be no surprise to see him powering away down the stretch. Above all, I like the way he knuckled down in his last win.
National Treasure – 7/2 – T: B Baffert J: J Velazquez
National Treasure rounded out his 2 -year old campaign with a 3rd place in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. He has one win from his five starts. Last time out, he finished 4th in the Santa Anita Derby.
Trainer Bob Baffert was banned from competing at the Derby meeting, so you can be sure he’ll want to stick it to the man. I think he might sit closer to the pace here than he has in the past. The horse hasn’t had the most straightforward preparations for his 3-year-old year, and I think he can finally take a big step forward. This has all the hallmarks of a plot!
Blazing Sevens – 8/1 – T: C Brown J: I Ortiz Jr
Two-time Preakness winner Chad Brown trains Blazing Sevens. The horse is highly tried. He finished behind ante-post Derby favorite Forte twice, in the Breeders Cup Juvenile and also the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He followed that up with a 3rd in the Bluegrass Stakes behind Tapit Trice. Blazing Sevens should settle towards the back of the field. Don’t expect to see him at the business end until late. Has won on a sloppy track aged 2.
Red Route One – 18/1 – T: S Asmussen J: J Rosario
Red Route One is very experienced, having run nine races. However, this also renders him exposed to those with improvement in them. He’s won the Bath House at Oaklawn and has second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and Grade 3 Southwest. The horse blew the start slightly in his last assignment in the Arkansas Derby, finishing 6th. Like Blazing Sevens, he’ll be coming from off the pace. Whether he is good enough today, I’m not sure.
Perform – 25/1 – T: S McGaughey J: F Lynch
Perform broke his maiden at the 6th attempt and then followed that up with a win at Laurel Park. He found loads of trouble that day and weaved his way through the pack in a very eye-catching manner. Connections supplemented him for $150,000 to compete here, and as a result, that is worth noting.
Chase the Chaos – 66/1 – T: E Moger J: S Russell
Chase the Chaos was purchased for the bargain price of $10,000. He had already paid that back and connections would be thrilled to get a crack at the Preakness. The winner of the El Camino at Golden Gate Fields, Chase the Chaos, has since run down the field in decent stakes events, albeit at a much lower level than this.
Coffewithchris – 66/1 – T: J Salzman Jr J: J Rodriguez
Coffewithchris is the local hope. He has a couple of nice wins under his belt, The Heft as a 2-year-old and the Miracle Wood this season. Unfortunately, one of the early pace angles, Cofeewithchris, has his work cut out today but takes his chance.
I think that the recency of the Derby will take its toll on Mage, and I’m happy to take him on. First Mission was impressive, winning the Lexington, and looks a really straightforward type too. National Treasure has been plotted up for this by Baffert, who’s as crafty as a barrel of monkeys. He’ll be thereabouts at the wire. Perform produced a miracle to win last time, and it looks like he could improve again. His connections have paid to have him run, so expect him to go well.
Win – First Mission
Win/Place/Show – Perform
Exacta and Trifectas: 1/6/8