Garrity Handicaps the Preakness, each of the 7 horses, the style of the race and the top 4 finishers
Here is how we see each of the seven Preakness entries, how we think the race will be run, and how we are going to attack the race from a wagering standpoint.
We also need to mention the weather. A cold front is forecast to blow through Baltimore later today, bringing rain and gusty winds, and while we think that it will not arrive until after the Preakness has been run, that is just a guess. Make sure to check conditions before the race, as a goodly amount of precipitation could fall in a short period of time, drastically impacting the track, and how the race will play out.
Now, onto the field.
1-National Treasure, 4-1. This California colt has never run a bad race, earning competitive speed figures in all five of his career starts. He has mostly been an also-ran, however, hitting the board four times, including in a couple of Grade 1 stakes, but winning only once, when he beat maidens in his career debut back in September. He did not earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby for that reason, having failed to amass enough points to qualify. If the field here were bigger, we would probably be dismissive of his chances, but we think has a chance to win, as he has abundant speed and an inside post position, two things that have historically played very well at Pimlico. We think National Treasure is going to be the early leader; the only question is how long he will stay there.
2-Chase the Chaos, 50-1. This colt has been admirably consistent, which is nice; what’s less nice is that he has been far too slow to be even remotely competitive in this spot. He has run on conventional dirt just once, and ran abysmally. We are tempted to say that he is a cinch to finish last, but his pedigree does suggest that he will like the distance, so we will be kinder to him, and predict that he might run the race of his life, and finish sixth. As far as win consideration goes, he is a complete throw-out.
3-Mage, 8/5. Count us among the handicappers who thought that Mage had too much to overcome in the Kentucky Derby: he did not run as a 2-year-old; he was making just his fourth career start; and he had just one win to his credit, a victory in a January maiden race at Gulfstream Park. That he managed to overcome all of those two weeks ago is very much to his credit, and that he did so while running a genuinely fast race – his Derby win was excellent – is a sign that he is a special colt. With all of the competition he faced in Louisville two weeks ago on the sidelines, and having to face the smallest Preakness field in a generation, Mage seems poised to add the second jewel in the Triple Crown, and a blanket of Black-eyed Susans, to his trophy case. But to do so, he will have to overcome the same issue that he faced in the Derby: his lack of experience did not catch up to him in Louisville, but very well could today.
4-Coffeewithchris, 20-1. This guy has experience over the main track at Pimlico, which is good; and speed, which is better. Unfortunately, he is shown how good he is in twelve career starts, and he is just not fast enough to win. He could hit the board, but we think that is unlikely, and he will not win.
5-Red Route One, 10-1. Red Route One is the kind of horse who gets casual fans excited: he falls far behind, and makes a furious late rally. Runners of this nature have excited those with $2 tickets since the days of Silky Sullivan, but this deep closing style has not played well historically in the Preakness, and figures to be even more ineffective in a small field. Clunking up for a minor prize seems to be the best his connections can hope for.
6-Perform, 15-1. This well-bred colt from Shug McGaughey’s barn won the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico five weeks ago, but is another stretch-runner who is going to need a pace collapse, something we think is unlikely to happen, to win.
7-Blazing Sevens, 6-1. This son of Good Magic was precocious as a juvenile last year, winning the Champagne Stakes, a major stakes for 2-year-olds. He has failed to improve much since, having been outrun in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, Fountain of Youth, and Blue Grass Stakes, but deserves credit for facing very tough competition in those races. Two big positives are that he has not run since the Blue Grass, which was six weeks ago, and may have matured physically, and improved, since; and that he is trained by Chad Brown, who has has done well in the Preakness with horses coming off the bench, having won last year with Early Voting, and in 2017 with Cloud Computing, neither of whom ran in the Kentucky Derby.
Here is how we see the race developing: National Treasure will go to the lead from his inside post right out of the gate, with Coffeewithchris and Perform right behind him, and the others farther back. They will stay in this order for the first six furlongs, running early fractions that will be moderate, neither fast nor slow. This will compromise the chances of the deep closers.
As the field heads into the far turn, Coffeewithchris and Perform will begin to back up; National Treasure will squirt clear, with Mage and Blazing Sevens beginning to make up ground on the leader. The three of them will draw even at the top of the stretch, with National Treasure running on gamely, dispatching Mage, who will tire. Blazing Sevens and National Treasure will hook up at the eighth pole, running head and head towards the wire, with the former on the outside, and the latter on the inside. Blazing Sevens will wear down National Treasure, putting his nose in front in deep stretch; they will finish in that order, Blazing Sevens first, National Treasure second, Perform coming from far back to finish third, and Mage finishing a tired fourth.
Enjoy the race.