HORSE SENSE

Fred Faour: A horse-by-horse look at the Preakness field

Justify dominated at Churchill Downs. Can he do it again? Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Preakness Stakes draw was held Wednesday, and the race will be on Saturday. Here is a horse-by-horse look at the race.

1. Quip (12-1) 

Record: 5-3-1-0.

Earnings: $482,800.

Jockey: Florent Geroux.

Trainer: Brisset Rodolphe.

Last race: 2nd, Arkansas Derby.

He will beat Justify if: He improves dramatically and something goes amiss with the big horse. Won the Tampa Bay Derby, but in retrospect did not beat much. The Arkansas Derby is usually a key Kentucky Derby prep, but this year it had no impact. He ran OK in that one, chasing a slow pace, and hanging around when the real running started. Was no match for the winner but fended off a lot of other slow horses. Unless something happens to Justify and he finds himself on the lead, this looks like a tall order. But he could easily hang around for a piece. 

2. Lone Sailor (15-1)

Record: 9-1-3-1.

Earnings: $334,237.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz.

Trainer: Tom Amoss.

Last race: 8th, Kentucky Derby.

He will beat Justify if: He runs the race of his life and Justify slows down considerably. His Derby was not awful, and he might be sharper in this start after a layoff that might have been a tad too long for Kentucky. His Louisiana Derby second would be good enough to get in the mix here, so worth a trifecta look at a monster price.

3. Sporting Chance (30-1)  

Record: 7-2-1-1.

Earnings: $409,790.

Jockey: Luis Contreras.

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas.

Last race: 4th, Pat Day Mile.

He will beat Justify if: He flashes back to 2017, when he looked like a future star. This year he has been more of a purse nibbler. Was a closing fourth on the Derby undercard but might be able to improve in this spot and help add some value to the exotics. 

4. Diamond King (30-1)

Record: 6-4-0-1.

Earnings: $222,600.

Jockey: Javier Castellano.

Trainer: John Servis.

Last race: 1st, Federico Tesio Stakes.

He will beat Justify if: Something goes amiss with the big horse. Still, should be a live long shot. Has been facing lesser, but did run a nice race against top sprinters in the Swale Stakes, and as long as he doesn't try to challenge Justify early, he could hit the board at a silly price. 

5. Good Magic (3-1) 

Record: 6-2-3-1.

Earnings: $2,225,000.

Jockey: Jose Ortiz.

Trainer: Chad Brown.

Last race: 2nd, Kentucky Derby.

He will beat Justify if: The favorite regresses significantly. He has been consistent, but he was no match for Justify in Kentucky, even though he had every opportunity to go past him in the stretch. He also had a near perfect trip in the race. He will be a clear second choice and is the most established horse in the field, but will need to improve to have a real shot and could easily regress as well.

6. Tenfold (20-1) 

Record: 3-2-0-0.

Earnings: $124,200.

Jockey: Ricardo Santana.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen.

Last race: 5th, Arkansas Derby.

He will beat Justify if: He suddenly becomes his father Curlin. Has only three starts, and retreated in his first real test in the Arkansas Derby. Could improve, but running style will probably be a hindrance. Might become a nice horse at some point but this is probably too much too soon.

7. Justify (1-2)  

Record: 4-4-0-0.

Earnings: $2,098,000.

Jockey: Mike Smith.

Trainer: Bob Baffert.

Last race: 1st, Kentucky Derby.

He will beat Justify if: He goes full Barbaro and gets hurt. Or he somehow regresses.  But if he runs anywhere close to his race, he will head to Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown. Baffert has sent four Derby winners to the Preakness and won it all four times. His horses tend to keep their form. The turnaround might be tough for such a lightly raced horse, but he faces a much weaker group than what he saw in Kentucky. Will have to eat a short price on him, but it might be better to wait to beat him in New York. 

8. Bravazo (20-1)  

Record: 9-3-1-1.

Earnings: $436,528.

Jockey: Luis Saez.

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas.

Last race: 6th in the Kentucky Derby.

He will beat Justify if: Something goes hideously wrong. Unlike most of the contenders, he had little trouble in the Derby, and basically ran evenly the whole way. His best efforts aren't even in the ball park. Will likely take some money because of Lukas, but candidate for minor awards at best. 

 

 

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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