BALTIMORE — The 145th running of the Preakness Stakes will be the latest ever when the gates open at Pimlico Race Course this Saturday, October 3, 2020.
Bob Baffert – After winning his record 6th Kentucky Derby with Authentic in September, the hall of fame trainer has the chance to tie the all-time Preakness Stakes record with what would be his 8th Run for the Black-eyed Susans.
Authentic (9-5 Favorite) – The Derby was the first race Authentic ever ran that he was not the favorite in and he did not disappoint, overcoming the widest draw to take the early lead and cruise to the blanket of roses, holding off a late charge from favorite Tiz the Law. He has won five of six career starts and has won every time by taking an early lead and holding it. If he gets his race, he will do it again. While I favored Authentic back on the original Trail to the Kentucky Derby, pre-COVID, I honestly do not know if he had the distance to go the Derby’s 1 1/4 miles back on the first Saturday in May, but he did in September and he should here in October.
Pneumatic (20-1) – He debuted in February, winning his first two races out of the gate. He then made his stakes racing debut and finished 3rd behind Maxwell and his opponent Saturday, Ny Traffic. Last time out, following a disappointing 4th place finish in the Belmont Stakes, Pneumatic won the Pegasus Stakes in August, with a career-best speed figure. He also has a trainer who knows how to hit the board in big races in Steve Asmussen.
Thousand Words (6-1) – The last time we saw this guy he was, quite literally, flipping out, in the paddock prior to the race, leading to a very late scratch. When he flipped he broke the hand of Jimmy Barnes, Bob Baffert’s top assistant, but luckily the colt is no worse for the wear and is well rest having not run since August 1. “Both horses [Thousand Words and Authentic] are doing fine. They both look good out here,” the silver haired champion said. “This track is so soft. You just don’t hear them. I’ve always loved this surface here. They are both training well. There are no excuses.” Strong words for two of his original Big-3 in a strange, long and winding road that is horse racing.
Then undefeated Thousand Words finished nearly 30 lengths behind Mr. Big News in the Oaklawn Stakes before turned around and beat the talented Honor A.P. to win the Shared Belief Stakes. He is another Jekyll & Hyde horse but one with all the talent to win a Triple Crown race if he can just harness his better half.
Ny Traffic (15-1) – Include this horse in every exotic from exact to superfecta, but maybe leave him out of the win column. This guy loves to run close and but not win. The question remains, did he almost chase down Authentic in the Haskell or did Mike Smith fail to finish. Perhaps the answer will come on Saturday. He has hit the board in seven of 10 career races.
Swiss Skydiver (6-1) – She already has a Grade 1 win to her name in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga back in August, so trainer Kenny McPeek decided she deserved a shot at the boys at Pimlico. As the only filly in the race, if she can take out the boys, Swiss Skydiver would become only the 6th filly all-time to win the Preakness Stakes in 145 runnings and the first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. She has finished in the money in nine of ten career starts, including seven of eight as a 3-year old. She beat Gamine, a huge accomplishment, but then lost the Kentucky Oaks, albeit second to a record setting performance by Shedaresthedevil, but a disappointment all the same. She also finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass Stakes, another race in which she was the only filly. Does she have what it takes in this Battle of the Beltways” turned “Battle of the Sexes” in Baltimore.
Max Player (15-1) – The only horse this year to run in all three Triple Crown races. Should be in the mix at the finish line with 3rd place finishes in the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes as well as fifth in The Derby.
Mr. Big News (12-1) – Jeckyl & Hyde horse dark horse. Finished 3rd behind and Authentic and Tiz the Law with his career best effort in the Kentucky Derby but has thrown up some stinkers in between solid races. That being said he has a great late kick and is the best closer in the field. The Preakness loves a good closer down the stretch that 1 3/16 mile distance.
Art Collector (5-2) – Had to scratch scratch just days before the Derby due to a minor injury , but reports say his workouts show he has bounced back well. AC has a good chance here to prove he is the best in the class against Triple Crown competition. Art Collector could reward his connections for allowing him to rest through the Kentucky Derby by taking home the Preakness Stakes. Labeled a major contender earlier in the year and before his Derby scratch, AC is on the radar of his competition including Bob Baffert and his two horses. “Art Collector, I think he’s a very good horse,” Baffert said of the colt. “I always worry about the horses I haven’t beaten yet.”
Excession (30-1) – This Steve Asmussen-trained colt loves the slop and will need biblical type rains, even more than the 7 inches that drenched Pimlico the week of Justify’s Preakness win in the way to the Triple Crown in 2018. Maybe not that much but he needs more than is in the weather forecast in Baltimore this weekend. He is also making his first start since having knee chip removed following a second place finish in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park all the way back in March.
Jesus’ Team (30-1) – This colt is running above his grade in this one. He finished 3rd in the Jim Dandy Stakes but has not fared well against the competition from the Preakness that he has already faced.
Liveyoubeastlife (30-1) – He ran a good second on the Jim Dandy but the Preakness is a whole new ballgame.