If handicappers are correct in analyzing the eight-horse field for the 143rd Preakness Stakes May 19, then the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course shapes up strictly as a two-colt race.
The favorite is Kentucky Derby winner Justify, and his likely challenger is Derby second-place finisher Good Magic. Beyond those two, the Preakness field would seem to lack obvious star power.
Two other horses who were at Churchill Downs and scheduled to run at Pimlico are Bravazo (sixth in the Derby) and Lone Sailor (eighth).
The rest of the Preakness starters are: Quip, Diamond King, Sporting Chance and Tenfold.
Here's a closer look at the Preakness runners with early odds.
Just about every horse who wins the Kentucky Derby looks like a world-beater heading to Baltimore, and that's certainly the case this year with Justify. Trained by Bob Baffert (six Preakness wins), Justify is undefeated at 4-0 and won at Churchill by 2 ½ lengths, fending off a challenge by Good Magic. Of course, that Derby win did occur on an extremely sloppy track, which will give observers reason to wonder whether Justify can perform as well on a drier, faster surface. However, the weather forecast is dubious for the Preakness, and like the Derby, the race could be over a wet track. Justify's resume also includes a win in the Santa Anita Derby. His rider is Mike Smith who gave him a perfect ride at Churchill.
Good Magic (7-2)
Good Magic was the 2-year-old champion and was certainly a contender heading into the Derby. Good Magic is trained by Chad Brown and is ridden by Jose Ortiz. In the Derby, Good Magic had to run a slightly longer race than Justify, as he dealt with being outside of the winner, especially around the last turn heading into the stretch. With that said, a lot of attention will be paid to post position, and much will depend on what kind of rides the two favorites get from their respective jockeys.
Quip was held out of the Kentucky Derby, and since he's been pointed toward the Preakness, that may prove to be an advantage. He is trained by Rodolphe Brisset and ridden by Florent Geroux. In five starts, he has three wins and a second-place finish. In a major Derby prep race, Quip finished second in the Arkansas Derby, five lengths behind Magnum Moon after hanging tough for much of the race. What is clear about Quip is that he likes to be in contention, so he should be helping to set the pace.
Diamond King (16-1)
Jockey Javier Castellano has never ridden Diamond King, but before anyone marks down the John Servis-trained colt, it would be wise to remember that when Castellano won the Preakness last year on Cloud Computing that was also the first time those two were paired. Although Diamond King is based at Parx near Philadelphia, he may carry the mantle as the hometown favorite because he earned his spot in the Preakness by winning the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park April 21. In six starts, he has four wins and a third-place finish.
Bravazo is one of two entries trained by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas. Like Baffert, Lukas has won the Preakness six times. The other Lukas entry in the Preakness is Sporting Chance. Bravazo was in the Kentucky Derby and did not get a good start. Despite that, the longshot (67-1) did finish sixth, which may explain why he's entered in the Preakness. He will be ridden by Luis Saez.
Sporting Chance (22-1)
Sporting Chance won twice as a 2-year-old, but in four races this year he has finished no higher than third. Luis Contreras is the jockey.
Tenfold won his first two races running at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, and then finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby after running third for most of the race. He's trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Lone Sailor (25-1)
If there's a closer in the Preakness, it's Lone Sailor. In nine starts, he has one win, three second-place finishes and a third. Perhaps his most impressive outing was finishing a close second in the Louisiana Derby (Noble Indy winner). He ran in the Kentucky Derby and finished eighth. He is trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club