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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

2023 Preakness Stakes Analysis

One returning Kentucky Derby Winner vs. seven new shooters. Certainly not the best betting race of the weekend but it is the second jewel of the Crown so it almost demands a gamble. There are several ways to approach this small field in order to gain a small profit, it simply boils down to which way suits your fancy.

Mage will go off with very minimal odds not only because he is the Derby winner but because those who only bet during the 3 race series will always side with the romance of a Triple Crown Winner.

Handicappers looking to profit will try to find a way to grab better odds going against the favorite. No approach is wrong with this small field and there are pros and cons for each contender as normal.

The Preakness Stakes is not a "breeding" race nor a "bias" race. Most every edition will see a fast track at Pimlico and with 67% humidity being forecast for Saturday, there is no doubt that the track will play as normal. This is a "pace race" with colts who do run towards the front and with leads who have the ability to endure the 1-3/16 task.

You have to secure a price to bet into, otherwise, you'll lose money even if you have a winning ticket. Realistically, there are reasons to bet against Mage with M/L odds of 8-5. Only 24% of those who won the Derby came back and won the Preakness in 150 years.

That statistic is somewhat vague though. Field sizes vary, weather conditions vary and most importantly, the competition varies. With this year, Mage is the only one dropping down in distance. The one who boasts the highest thorograph figure and the only one who beat a field of 18 others.

There is no argument that Mage walks into this race as the highest rated and the one to beat. Safe to single on top in a vertical bet, which is the only way you can profit if you go that route. The other way is to search for something that may have the best shot at beating him and going for a better profit. That is always the handicapper's prerogative.

NATIONAL TREASURE Post: 1 m/l: 4-1 Baffert/Velazquez

Quality Road - Treasure (Medaglia d'Oro & Elusive Quality)

DP = 4-4-7-1-0 (16) DI = 2.56 CD = 0.69

Mare Profile = 8-7-3-3-9 Speed = 15 Stamina = 12 Index = 1.08 Triads = 18-13-15

Post One with a Baffert horse has always meant "gun for the lead and don't look back." Based on his last two bullet works at Santa Anita, 47.40 and 1:11.20, it would seem that Baffert will stick with what has worked so well in the past. Both Justify and Pharoah gunned for the lead with 22.90 and 23.11 opening quarters. Both of those races on a sealed sloppy track which aided them but still, it is a certain predictable Baffert approach. National Treasure has higher early figures while stalking than any other on the field and it does look like he is training to move very fast early. In keeping with Baffert's playbook, if he does shoot for that lead, he will slow the pace to reserve as much energy as possible and those behind him look to comply for a time. He will have to travel 330 yards further than he did in his last in the Santa Anita Derby with his 100 late pace figure. He does have the distance of this race and even if Coffeewithchris goes with him, Treasure has shown ability to keep his endurance while Chris has not, even with the slow 24.47 opening that Chris had in the Tesio. If any horse on the field has the ability to go gate to wire, it is easily National Treasure. There is no comparison with Chris. Rail post is running incredible at Pimlico and Baffert is the master of gate to wire wins. Depending on final odds, if you go against the favorite, there just may be a huge argument to go for it here.


CHASE THE CHAOS Post: 2 m/l: 50-1 Moger/Sheldon

Astern - Live the Moment (Uncle Mo & Medaglia d'Oro)

DP = 2-3-2-1-0 (8) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 11-4-2-7-6 Speed = 15 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.33 Triads = 17-13-15

One dirt start in the San Felipe and he ended up 16 lengths behind the winner. That's all.


MAGE Post: 3 m/l: 8-5 Delgado/Castellano

Good Magic - Puca (Big Brown - Curlin)

DP = 2-4-8-0-0 (14) DI = 2.50 CD = 0.57

Mare Profile = 7-8-2-9-8 Speed = 15 Stamina = 17 Index = 0.89 Triads = 17-19-19

Obviously a high quality colt. Obviously the distance is suitable. Whether he breaks bad and runs from the back, or if he breaks well and runs more forwardly placed, he has still been successful either way. He was good enough to buck history in the Derby against a few very well built horses and he did beat Angel of Empire and Two Phil's - which none on this field compare to their class, quality and speed. Sitting with the highest class on the field, there is no doubt that he is the horse to beat. The question then becomes, do you settle for the 8 to 5 odds or do you test your luck elsewhere going for a better payout? If he does have another slow break, he will be in the same position as Epicenter last year and in that case, the best on the field did not prevail. But it is safe to say that Castellano will ask his horse to move much sooner than Epicenter was asked should that occur.


COFFEEWITHCHRIS Post: 4 m/l: 20-1 Salzman/Rodriguez

Ride on Curlin - Andiemac (Outflanker & Curlin)

DP = 2-5-9-0-0 (16) DI = 2.56 CD = 0.56

Mare Profile = 7-5-5-6-9 Speed = 12 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.83 Triads = 17-16-20

The negatives are rampant here. Laurel to Pimlico - strike one. Could not hold the lead and continue with a very moderate pace last out at only 9f - strike two. Loses all late energy when forced to run fast early - strike three. Low chef CD with low mare index - strike four. Strike. Strike. Strike.


RED ROUTE ONE Post: 5 m/l: 10-1 Asmussen/Rosario

Gun Runner - Red House (Tapit & Candy Ride)

DP = 1-4-7-0-0 (12) DI = 2.43 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 7-3-5-7-6 Speed = 10 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.92 Triads = 15-15-18

Gun Runner. Tapit. Candy Ride. Beautiful family. Late Bloomer who has finally started posting triple digit call figures. With an expected moderate pace for this edition, that will not help his cause for the trophy, but his late run is certainly good enough for a board hit. If he could take just one step forward earlier, he would not have to work so hard late. With such a small field, he will most likely be running on the inside of Perform in the early stages and based on his last, he rolls a bit faster late. The only problem is that Rosario is the one who has been "off" recently and this could have an effect. Red Route One and Perform are interchangeable for the board, it just depends on which one has the better whip on him.


PERFORM Post: 6 m/l: 15-1 McGaughey/Lynch

Good Magic - Jane Says (Tale of Ekati & Curlin)

DP = 1-3-4-0-0 (8) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.63

Mare Profile = 5-7-2-10-6 Speed = 12 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.79 Triads = 14-19-18

Here's Shug making a rare appearance with yet another Good Magic Boy. Bias for bias, if we go back to his Gulfstream maiden where he only managed 4th place stalking the lead with 90/92/95 figures, this performance does look promising transitioning to Pimlico. Then in his two subsequent, he came from well off the pace but managed wins going further. His energy distribution did a 180, very slow early and came on very strong late. But then, he posts 47.65 and a 48.09 fast short works. Which horse is going to show up and where will he settle? The biggest question of the entire race is what race is this horse going to run? Only Shug has that answer. His speed is below par with Mage and First Mission even with similar scales. A board hit is certainly not out of the question, and he may be imperative to use because he did perform well on the fast bias at Gulfstream and he does have the distance no matter which horse stands in that gate. This guy is the "just in case" actor of the group.


BLAZING SEVENS Post: 7 m/l: 6-1 Brown/Ortiz

Good Magic - Trophy Girl (Warrior's Reward & Curlin

DP = 3-6-7-0-0 (16) DI = 3.57 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 5-6-6-6-9 Speed = 11 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.73 Triads = 17-18-21

Another son of Good Magic who is sitting with more inbred speed than his half-brother Mage. If we toss the Fountain of Youth, where he was brutally bumped out of the race early, this horse has consistently improved his position in the latter stages of his races. With only 7 other competitors on the track, there should be no reason for him to be 10 or 11 lengths behind the lead like he had been with fuller fields. If this horse doesn't get banged around like he has a couple times in the past, he will move when Ortiz gives the signal. His late figures are not on par with a few others here, however, his early pace figures should put him in a better position to perform and could catch his piece. He only needs to beat out 4 horses to hit that tote board. He has two beat easily. It's the other two that he has to worry about.


FIRST MISSION Post: 8 m/l: 5-2 Cox/Saez

Street Sense - Elude (Medaglia d'Oro - Street Cry)

DP = 4-2-5-1-0 (12) DI = 2.43 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 6-5-3-11-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.83 Triads = 14-19-19

This son of Street Sense is built so similarly to his half-brother Maxfield. And just like Maxfield, he finds his way to that wire from anywhere on the track and he will continue to get stronger and stronger with each race. If he stalks the lead, he will be sitting in a better position than Mage. If he sits back and off the pace, he will roll late. This is a very nice horse and he has been very impressive in his short term so far. If you look closely at the numbers between him and Mage, they are almost perfectly in sync balance-wise. This is the one that I will take the shot with against the Derby Winner. His allegiance with Maxfield is too good to pass up. Since he has had only 3 races so far and his figures are still on par or better with the rest of the group, there is no reason why he shouldn't take another step forward in his 4th race. The distance is excellent for him and he should relish this faster track. This is the guy who has the best shot against the favorite. Hoping Saez is seeking vindication coming out of the Derby.


With the scratch of First Mission on Friday morning due to left hind issues, I removed my super picks since it completely revolved around him. Glad he is being cared for properly and hope to see him back soon. With only 7 competitors now, this race is not for me.


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