Expert Picks: Who Will Win the Preakness?
Mage, ridden by Javier Castellano, executed a frantic stretch run to capture an unpredictable Kentucky Derby that saw five contenders, including the favorite, scratched ahead of the race.
Now, in only his fifth race, Mage moves on to Baltimore and the 148th Preakness Stakes, where he will be a Triple Crown contender and the only Derby horse in what is considered a weak field.
Below, the Preakness horses are listed in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by Keith Feustle of Pimlico Race Course.
How to watch: Coverage on Saturday begins on CNBC at 1 pm Eastern time and moves to NBC at 4:30 pm Coverage will also be streamed on Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Track record: 1 minute 52 2/5 seconds (Farma Way, 1991)
Weight: 126 pounds
Post time: 6:50 p.m. Eastern
Drape’s winning-place-show picks: First Mission, Mage, Red Route One
Hoppert’s picks: National Treasure, First Mission, Mage
Here’s how we see the field:
1. National Treasure
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 4-1
Drape: This colt looks to be the lone speed horse. If the Hall of Fame jockey can slow the fractions down, National Treasure is a threat to go gate to wire.
Hoppert: Baffert will add blinkers to try to get the fourth-place Santa Anita Derby finisher back on track after a promising 2-year-old season. Should he prevail, Baffert would set the record for most Preakness wins with eight.
2. Chase the Chaos
Trainer: Ed Moger Jr. Jockey: Sheldon Russell Odds: 50-1
Drape: He raced the big boys in the San Felipe Stakes and was beaten by nearly 17 lengths. Once again, he is in too deep.
Hoppert: He earned a trip to the Preakness with a stakes win on synthetics in February, then was blown out in his next two races, one of which was on dirt. No thanks.
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 8-5
Drape: Only two weeks rest off a grueling mile and a quarter? Big ask, but there are no world beaters in this bunch. Don’t blame you if you eat the chalk.
Hoppert: With no other Derby runners in the race, there’s no doubt he’s the best in the field. But his persistent trouble breaking from the gate, coupled with what is expected to be a slow pace, doesn’t bode well for him here.
Trainer: John Salzman Jr. Jockey: Jaime Rodríguez Odds: 20-1
Drape: This Maryland-bred horse is honest and will try to push National Treasure early. He is going to be hard-pressed to keep up with him.
Hoppert: There’s always one big local hope in this race, but the fifth-place finisher in the Federico Tesio Stakes will not be the one who breaks through.
5. Red Route One
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 10-1
Drape: Like Mage, this colt gets going late. Look for him to be chasing the Derby winner of late.
Hoppert: Asmussen has finished second in the Preakness the last two years, and this year he’ll be lucky to hit the board with this late-blooming and late-running colt.
Trainer: Shug McGaughey Jockey: Feargal Lynch Odds: 15-1
Drape: This colt found his mojo after switching to races over a mile long. He is on a two-race win streak and might clunk up for a third- or fourth-place finish.
Hoppert: The Federico Tesio winner was supplemented to Preakness for $150,000. His connections are taking a big leap.
7. Blazing Sevens
Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 6-1
Drape: Brown has won the Preakness twice with horses that skipped the Derby. Don’t think a third victory is in the cards on Saturday
Hoppert: One of three horses in the race sired by Good Magic, along with Mage and Perform. He finished third in the Blue Grass with Ortiz in the saddle and has some quality races under his belt. He rounds out my superfecta.
8. First Mission
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 5-2
Drape: He’s getting good at the right time and will have first jump on National Treasure. He’s my upset.
Hoppert: He has two wins and one second in three career starts. He’ll be racing near the lead, and the question is: Can he hold on?