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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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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