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.

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McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

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