2019 Preakness Stakes Preview: Breaking Down All the Contenders for the 2019 Preakness Stakes

The 2019 Preakness Stakes takes this place this Saturday, coming at a time when the sport of horse racing is in the public eye more than ever. After the controversial finish of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, nobody really knows what to expect from this race, especially the bettors. That’s why we’re here to help you with this 2019 Preakness Stakes preview to take a look at the horses in the field and talk about who we think will come up a winner.

Unless you were living under that proverbial rock that we always hear about in times like these, you may have heard a little bit about the controversy of the Kentucky Derby. For those who missed it, Maximum Security appeared to have scored a dominant victory in the race, and he ran away late under intense pressure. But an objection was lodged by the connections of second-place finisher Country House, the stewards at Churchill Downs deemed that Maximum Security veered out at one point during the race and interfered with other hoses, and Country House, at 65 to 1, was awarded the win via a disqualification of Maximum Security.

For the past two weeks, people have been lining up on either side of the argument to either blast or defend the decision. And that has taken some of the attention away from the run-up to the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Thoroughbred racing Triple Crown in America. Not only that, neither Maximum Security nor Country House will be competing on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness.

Some in the horse racing industry feel like all this publicity isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world for the sport because it has casual fans talking about horse racing again. While that’s ultimately debatable, horse racing bettors don’t care too much about any of that. What they are worried about is how all of this will affect the Preakness in terms of its ability to provide wagering value.

The bottom line is that the Preakness now shapes up as a much more favorable betting race than it might have been. If Maximum Security had been entered, he would have been a clear favorite, and it would have been difficult to find much value picking against him. Now that he’s out of the race, the betting avenues open up significantly.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy to pick a winner in the 2019 Preakness Stakes. On the one hand, you have a few horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby returning for the Preakness, but none exactly distinguished themselves with their performance. You also have a bunch of horses coming into the Preakness who didn’t run in the Derby, so they have fresher legs but also have questionable qualifications.

That’s why we’re here to help you with your online wagering exploits by providing you with this 2019 Preakness Stakes preview. We will take a look at all 13 horses in the race and talk about how they shape up coming into this huge event. And we will tell you who we believe will come up a winner and perhaps give some clarity to this confusing Triple Crown season.

2019 Preakness Stakes

  • When: Saturday, May 18, 2019
  • Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Who: 3-year-old horses
  • How Long: 1 3/16 miles
  • Surface: Dirt

#1 – War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse) 4-1

The horse that was supposedly damaged the most by Maximum Security’s alleged interference will get a chance to prove that a clean trip can make all the difference. Once again, he drew the inside post, which isn’t exactly ideal. But it isn’t as much of a dealbreaker as it was in Derby, with the size of the field making a big difference in how beneficial or not that rail trip can be.

Many people who are betting on horse racing believe that we haven’t seen the best of War of Will in the last two races. First, because of injury and, then, because of the Maximum Security incident. But a closer look at the replay of the Derby shows a horse that pulled up even with Maximum Security after he checked, and then watched as he rode away from him. People playing the redemption angle here, especially if the odds stay as short as they are on the morning line, could come away disappointed.

#2 – Bourbon War (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Mark Hennig) 12-1

This colt hasn’t raced since the end of March. That gives him the longest layoff of any of the 13 horses in the field. If you believe in a fresh horse, this is the angle to take.

Bourbon War looked like he might be coming on after a nice second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth. Then he was one of the many also-rans watching Maximum Security blow the field away in the Florida Derby. There is enough unknown here to make him a bit intriguing, but there isn’t a lot in the past performances to suggest that he can do any damage on Saturday.

#3 – Warrior’s Charge (Javier Castellano, Brad Cox) 12-1

How much you believe in Warrior’s Charge will depend on how much you think the quality of competition matters. Certainly, this colt comes into this race having faced the weakest of anybody else in the group. His toughest matchup so far was an optional claimer at Oaklawn Park in his last race.

His only two races at two turns have resulted in Warrior’s Charge winning in romping fashion. His front-running style is certainly well-suited to the Preakness Stakes, which is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races. But it is an awfully big leap for him to make if he is going to keep his winning streak alive on Saturday.

#4 – Improbable (Mike Smith, Bob Baffert) 5-2

As is the case with most of the major stakes races in America, trainer Bob Baffert has had a lot of success in this race. And the narrative which could convince you that Improbable is the choice here would include the jockey switch to Mike Smith. Many feel like Smith could unlock the talent that has been dormant in Improbable.

But it is difficult to see how a horse can be made a 5-2 favorite in a Triple Crown race while on a three-race winning streak. That says a lot about Baffert’s reputation, and it says something about the state of this field. It should tell you, the horse racing bettor, that there is absolutely no value to be had in believing that Improbable is somehow going to turn back the clock to when he looked like a legitimate super-horse.

#5 – Owendale (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox) 10-1

Back in February, there wasn’t much to say about this horse after he finished up the track in the Risen Star. Then he sat for two months, returning for the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland with a new jockey in Geroux. The results were stunning, as he swooped by the field around the second turn and scored a convincing victory at 12-1.

There is a lot going for him that handicappers like: second time off the short layoff, speed figure spiking, great workout leading into this. Maybe it’s a case where the new jockey helped the light come on for this Cox trainee. If the pace is hot early, he could be primed to make the same kind of move in the 2019 Preakness Stakes.

#6 – Market King (Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas) 30-1

If you’re horse race betting based on connections, you could do worse than going with this colt. Court is a veteran jockey who is well-liked among horse racing fans and would love a Triple Crown win to top off a great career. And what else can be said about Lukas, who has won every race there is to win a couple of times over and still has some surprises up his sleeve.

The problem here is the connections might not be able to make up for lackluster talent. Market King finished 11th out of 14 at Keeneland in his last race. Asking him to improve off that to compete in a Triple Crown race seems like an impossible ask.

#7 – Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno, Kelly Rubley) 6-1

The past performances for this one make him the possible Maximum Security of this race. He comes in a big winning streak (six in a row), with the last two results at two turns especially encouraging (wins at Laurel Park in Maryland by a combined 17-plus lengths). The speed figures seem to back up the results in terms of his ability to step up the ladder.

The one concern is that the running style of Alwaysmining is very similar to that of Warrior’s Charge, as both are speed merchants daring everyone else to play catch-up. If they both fly out there, both could end up fading at the end of the race. But the talent is there, if he gets the kind of race he wants, to go all the way on this field.

#8 – Signalman (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ken McPeek) 30-1

On the bright side, Signalman has five graded stakes (all above Grade 2) in his rearview, so the experience is there. Of course, he has only managed to win one of those five races. But he has hit the board in four of the five, so an exotic play can’t be ruled out.

His speed figures, for the most part, also signal that he can hang around here if everything goes right. You’re going to get a good price if he can step up his game just a bit. But there are other long shot plays in the field with just a little more oomph.

#9 – Bodexpress (John Velazquez, Gustavo Delgado) 20-1

The last horse into the Derby field didn’t exactly do too much with his opportunity. Bodexpress finished 14th out of 19 in the race and was floundering near the back of the pack after a brief flash of speed at the start. Perhaps he will do better at the slightly shorter distance of the Preakness.

The jockey switch to John Velazquez could help a little, as there are few jockeys with more big-race experience than him. Maybe he can work a little magic on Bodexpress. But more than likely, this is an also-ran barring anything unforeseen.

#10 – Everfast (Joel Rosario, Dale Romans) 50-1

Here is another jockey switch to try and enliven a slumping horse. Rosario gets the nod after Game Winner, his mount in the Derby, was not entered here. Let’s say that Rosario will be working with a lot less power this time around.

Everfast won his debut last August at Ellis Park. Since then, he has failed to come up with a victory in nine races in a row. Don’t look for that streak to end on Saturday, regardless of your love of big-time long shots.

#11 – Laughing Fox (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steven Asmussen) 20-1

Oaklawn Park has produced more Triple Crown hopefuls this year than at any time in the recent past. Laughing Fox is another one, having raced his last five starts at that Arkansas oval. And he has won three of those races, usually with furious late moves.

Unfortunately, in the two races where he was in graded stakes competition at Oaklawn, he was not a factor. In those races, he was way too far back in the field for his late move to mean anything. And that seems like it could be the result again on Saturday.

#12 – Anothertwistafate (Jose Ortiz, Blaine Wright) 6-1

In his last two races, he had adopted a stalking posture, only to come up a bit short at the end. In neither case did he have the best trip available. The post won’t make a good trip easy in this one either, since Ortiz might have to maneuver toward the inside to find a good spot.

It seems odd that Anothertwistafate is at lower odds than Owendale, since the latter handled him in his last race. He might be a little too trip-dependent, but he could be interesting if he can somehow lock in behind a speed duel. Take a look at him for the exotic bets at least.

#13 – Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel, Michael Trombetta) 15-1

He was a popular long shot play at the Kentucky Derby, but he was really never in it, finishing 10th and placed ninth. You might be able to write some of that off to the style of the horse race. The pace figures to be faster in this one, which should play better to his late-moving style.

He starts so slow that it is hard to envision him having the time to make up the ground for a win here. But a flying move into second or third isn’t out of the question. And that’s especially true since Win Win Win seems to follow up a so-so start with a good one so far in his career.

The Pick

As of right now, the signs are that the weather in Maryland should be nice for the 2019 Preakness Stakes. That means a fast track and, most likely, a fast pace. If that’s the case, it won’t be good news for those horses to control matters on the front end.

I think that Alwaysmining has the talent to go all the way if no one else runs out there with him. But I doubt that will be the case, which means that he probably fades to third late. Win Win Win will benefit from fast fractions and should come rocketing up late for second at a nice price.

And the winner:

Owendale

I like Owendale, who seems to have figured something out and could make one big move at the right time to build an insurmountable lead.

Considering his odds on the morning line are 10-1, you could have real value on your hands while betting on the 2019 Preakness Stakes.

Jim Beviglia: Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in August of 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for Gamblingsites.org, and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a harness racing establishment near his home. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Marie and daughter Daniele, both of whom are used to hearing his long-winded monologues about either the struggles of his Fantasy baseball team or which Beatles song is definitively the best.