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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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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