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 Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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