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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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