The 143rd Preakness Stakes takes place this Saturday at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, MD (6:30 p.m., NBC). Kentucky Derby winner Justify, who drew post seven once more and retains jockey Mike Smith, will try to become the fifth Bob Baffert trainee to take the first two legs of the Triple Crown before heading to the Belmont Stakes. And while Justify was made a heavy 1-2 morning-line favorite against seven others, there’s no such thing as a sure thing in horse racing.
Here are three underdogs to consider in this year’s Preakness.
#5 Good Magic (3-1), the Kentucky Derby runner-up and Blue Grass Stakes winner, seems like the sensible choice if one had to predict an upset. However, Justify beat him by a comfortable 2 1/2-length margin in “the Run for the Roses.” Good Magic wasn’t gaining on him in the stretch either; in fact, he almost lost second to Audible. Still, the distance reduction from 1 1/4 miles to 1 3/16ths miles could play in Good Magic’s favor, and he has elite connections behind him in trainer Chad Brown, who won last year’s Preakness with Cloud Computing, and jockey Jose Ortiz, last year’s Eclipse Award-winning rider.
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#1 Quip (12-1) bypassed the Kentucky Derby in order to train up to the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes. He’ll be making his third start of 2018; he was first in the Tampa Bay Derby two starts ago before settling for second in the Arkansas Derby when last seen. Quip is fast enough to compete with these based on speed figures, but he drew a tricky post for his preferred pace-stalking style. Florent Geroux, recognized for riding Horse of the Year Gun Runner but yet to record a Triple Crown series win, has the call for little-known Midwest-based conditioner Rodolphe Brisset. Quip is one of several who have never raced on a muddy track before, which is important to note as the forecast calls for significant rainfall at Pimlico leading up to post time.
#8 Bravazo (20-1) spotted Justify plenty of ground in the Kentucky Derby, going five-wide on both turns. Jockey Luis Contreras asked Bravazo to run early on the far turn and his mount responded decently before flattening out late. He’s another colt that shouldn’t mind turning back a 1/16th of a mile. Bravazo is trained by the esteemed D. Wayne Lukas, who also sends out Sporting Chance and has won the Preakness six times, and will be ridden by Luis Saez, who seeks his first Triple Crown series win. Lukas was unclear what the strategy would be with Bravazo, who typically shows speed but raced 11th early on in the Derby.
“Not everybody can be just off the pace,” he told reporters before Wednesday’s post draw. “I think we’re probably as quick as most of them, so we’ll have to use a little judgment on the rider part.”