Looking for Long Shots

A detailed look at every horse in the Preakness Stakes field

The Preakness Stakes on Saturday will lack star power. The horse that finished first in the Derby won't be here. The horse that was gifted the Derby via DQ won't be here. But that does not mean the race lacks intrigue. Can War of Will bounce back from his controversial role in the Derby to run well? Is Improbable the right favorite? Which new shooter will have the best chance? Let's take a look at the field:

1) War of Will (4-1)

Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Race record: 9 starts, 3 wins, 1 second, 1 third.

What he has done: Had two dominating stakes wins early in the year at Fair Grounds, and was at the center of the controversy in the Derby when he was cut off by Maximum Security. He did not finish poorly after that, but never looked like a winner. Will likely take a lot of action.

Status: Contender, but will fault no one for tossing him.

2) Bourbon War (12-1)

Trainer: Mark Hennig

Jockey: Irad Ortiz

Race record: 5-2-1-0

What he has done: Lightly raced horse finished fourth in the Florida Derby last out, but that race was won by Maximum Security (who was DQ'd in the Derby) who walked on the front end that day. It gave the closers no chance. Code of Honor ran third in the Florida Derby and ran well in the Kentucky Derby. So did second-place finisher Bodexpress. He is bred to be a champ, is well rested and should be sitting on a big effort.

Status: Live long shot and our key horse.

3) Warriors Charge (12-1)

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Race record: 5-2-0-3

What he has done: Since he figured out how to be a front runner, he has buzz sawed two fields at Arkansas. This is a big step up but he should be the controlling pace of the race.

Status: Fringe player

4) Improbable (5-2)

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Race record: 6-3-2-0

What he has done: He never really runs a bad race, but he also has been pretty pedestrian as a 3-year-old. He finished fifth in the Derby, but was one of the few who did not have trouble.

Status: Favorite, but vulnerable.

5) Owendale (10-1)

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Race record: 8-3-1-1

What he has done: Won the Lexington Stakes at a nice price with a solid late move. Prior to that, however he had a fairly nondescript career. Distance seems to be a question for him but further improvement puts him in the mix.

Status: Contender to get a piece of the trifecta.

6) Market King (30-1)

Trainer: D Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Jon Court

Race record: 8-1-1-2

What he has done: Not much. Has only a maiden win to his credit and his best effort was a third in the Rebel. Still, hopeless looking Lukas horses like this have a habit of showing up on the big stage.

Status: Should be a throw-out but will use on the bottom of tris.

7) Always Mining (8-1)

Trainer: Kelly Rubley

Jockey: Daniel Centeno

Race record: 12-7-0-1

What he has done: Local star has reeled off six in a row at nearby Laurel Park and been extremely impressive doing it. This is a big step up, but it is not like this is a scary group. Could easily be a big factor and should be near the early lead.

Status: Contender.

8) Signalman (30-1)

Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Jockey: Brian Hernandez

Race record: 7-2-2-2

What he has done: Was a promising 2-year-old, but has just been OK at 3. Should be sitting on a decent effort but would be a surprise if he won it.

Status: Fringe player; use in exotic wagers.

9) Bodexpress (20-1)

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Jockey: John Velazquez

Race record: 6-0-3-0

What he has done: Qualified for the Derby by finishing second in the Florida Derby, then hung around for a while before throwing in the towel after he was bothered.

Status: Looks to be a pace factor but hard to see him impacting the finish.

10) Everfast (50-1)

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Race record: 10-1-1-1

What he has done: Late entrant finished second in the Holy Bull in February at 128-1. Besides that? Nothing. Love his trainer in Triple Crown races but the horse looks hopeless.

Status: Not exactly aptly named. Be surprised if he has any impact.

11) Laughing Fox (20-1)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana

Race record: 7-3-0-0

What he has done: An all or nothing type, his last two have been solid, finishing right behind the fake Derby winner and taking down a decent field at Oaklawn. May be coming around at the right time.

Status: Contender at a price.

12) Anothertwistafate (6-1)

Trainer: Blaine Wright

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Race record: 6-3-2-0

What he has done: A monster on synthetic surfaces, he has a pair of seconds on traditional dirt. Solid, consistent type who never really runs a bad race but does not seem good enough to win this.

Status: Has to bus used but hard to see him winning.

13) Win Win Win (15-1)

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

Jockey: Julien Pimentel

Race record: 7-3-2-1

What he has done: Missed hitting the board for the first time in the Derby. Liked him as a long shot that day, and he split the field. The fact that he wheels right back is a good sign.

Status: Live long shot who has a big chance.

The bottom line

Check back Friday for some plays, but I like Bourbon War quite a bit to be a factor. I also think Always Mining, Win Win Win and Laughing Fox should be in the mix as well.

Playing the Ponies

5 keys to betting on the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes will cap off this year's Triple Crown, which will go down as one of the most controversial and eventually disappointing three races in a long time. But there is still money to be made, so here are five ways to approach the race. My horse-by-horse analysis is here. My premium plays are available at pregame.com. Historically the Belmont is where we do our best work in the Triple Crown. It is the longest of the Triple Crown races, and it takes a good combination of stamina and speed. Most of these horses will never run this far again.

1) Hard to get around the favorites

Tacitus, one of our Derby horses, will be the favorite after finishing fourth in that race on a track he hated. He has classic distance breeding, a good running style for the distance and has all the qualities you look for in a Belmont winner. He is also 9-5. War of Will, who dominated the Preakness and is very tough at his best, is 2-1. Both horses should be significant factors. That makes it more difficult to put together a decent score. However, when faced with this scenario, you look for long shots in the trifectas, and that is how we will approach the race.

2) About those long shots...

There are three that are intriguing. Master Fencer was seventh in the Derby, but the Japanese horse was beaten just four lengths and was finishing very strongly. His style should suit Belmont, and Japanese horses tend to run well everywhere. He was not elite in Japan, but let's face it, this field isn't either. He could surprise at a big price. We were all-in on Bourbon War in the Preakness and he took us all out by finishing eighth. He really had no excuse that day other than maybe the long layoff got to him. We will give him one more chance to reward our faith. Sir Winston already has a nice effort over the surface and always seems to show up at a big price.

3) The next tier

Everfast was second in the Preakness, but that effort came out of nowhere and horses that don't run in the Derby, then run well in the Preakness tend to falter in the Belmont. Intrepid Heart is a regally bred, lightly raced colt who could improve. Joevia should be the pace setter, and that is a big advantage in longer races, because he will likely get the lead all to himself and could last a long time. All of these could be bottom factors in the trifectas.

4) So how do we play it? 

I like exacta and trifecta boxes with the two favorites plus Master Fencer and Bourbon War. I also like the idea of keying the two favorites on top and in second with the long shots we like and as many horses as possible in third.

I also like the idea of playing the two long shots - Bourbon War and Master Fencer, across the board.

On the undercard, I like some long shots to throw in your wagers:

Race 8: No. 8 Hog Creek Hustle

Race 9: No. 5 Tale of Silence

Race 10: No 4 Qurban.

5) Keep an eye on the surface

As of today, they are expecting nice weather at Belmont so everything is handicapped for a fast track. Should that prove wrong, check back on Twitter as I will likely change some plays. Good luck and let's finish this year strong.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome