By Justin Dew
With the announcements Sunday morning that Good Magic and Lone Sailor are confirmed for the Preakness, we are getting a better look at the probable field and can start thinking about how we might want to attack the race as bettors. Justify will be the odds-on favorite, and deservedly so. Good Magic figures to be the solid second choice. I don’t believe Bolt d’Oro is confirmed just yet, but he’ll take some money if he runs, as will Arkansas Derby runner-up Quip. From there, we have Bravazo, Tenfold, Lone Sailor, Sporting Chance, and Diamond King on the list of Preakness hopefuls. So, let’s call it an expected field of up to 9-10 at the moment.
Bravazo will remind people of Oxbow, who won the Preakness in 2013 after an also-ran effort in the Derby for Calumet and Lukas. And if you want to bet on the big forward jump for Bravazo, be my guest. But I don’t see it. And I don’t see Sporting Chance getting it done either.
Tenfold was the hot horse going into the Arkansas Derby and ran ok, but just wasn’t up to the class of Magnum Moon, Quip, or even, dare I say it, Solomini. He’s probably got a number of nice wins in his future, but the Preakness seems just a touch out of reach for him.
Now, for Justify and Good Magic. They clearly asserted themselves as the top two of this crop. Both ran fantastic races in the Kentucky Derby. And they drew clear late. Good Magic was my Derby pick, and I almost lost my voice with a 1/4 mile to go. I swear I thought Jose had Justify beat. But then as we all saw, Mike Smith got another gear out of Justify and the race was over as Good Magic barely held 2nd.
I saw something in the video of Travis Stone calling the Derby from the booth that disappointed me as a Good Magic fan. As Justify was galloping out nicely after the wire, even after running those fast early fractions, Good Magic was completely stopping. He was spent. Nothing left. The race had taken everything he had to give. Now, word is he came out of the race very well, and I’m sure that’s true. And the Preakness is 100 yards shorter than the Derby. So if you’re a Good Magic fan, like me, there are things to hang your hat on. But if I’m being honest, I can see him running 5th easier than I can see him winning. And he’ll be a one-third the price that he was in the Derby.
Justify, on the other hand, looks better every time I watch the Derby replay. I don’t think there is one thing you can point to as even a potential negative, other than maybe this alleged foot issue that may or may not have cleared up. But, he is, like every other Kentucky Derby winner, trying to come back in two weeks off a tough effort. Does the lack of juvenile seasoning catch up with him here? Did that Churchill Downs surface take a toll? Can you accept 2-5 or lower? For me, the answer is no. Yeah, he’s obviously the most likely winner. You don’t need me to tell you that. But for betting purposes, you have to try to get clever.
For me, the race comes down to three key horses: Quip, Diamond King, and Lone Sailor. I don’t think either horse is in the same class as Justify or Good Magic. But it just may not matter in the Preakness. I think Quip will be the early leader, and if you can envision a scenario where Justify and Good Magic start being ridden hard at the 5/16ths pole, maybe you can see Quip kick clear and two fresh horses closing ground down the lane.
Diamond King passed on the Peter Pan on Saturday for this, and he picks up top rider Javier Castellano. I think he’s live, and he’ll be a price. And Lone Sailor just looks like one of those mediocre stakes horses like Tale of Verve who can suck up late when everyone else has stopped.
So, for the moment, that’s the half-hearted attempt to beat the big favorites in the Preakness. Play Quip to win. And box him with the other two in the exacta, using ALL in 3rd in the trifecta, and maybe getting crazy and using ALL in 3rd and 4th in the superfecta too. Just think what that super would pay with Justify and Good Magic out of the top two spots.
Of course, Justify will probably win by five.