When post positions were revealed for the 2013 Preakness Stakes, nothing changed in terms of who the horse to beat is at Pimlico Race Course. Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the even-money favorite to win the 138th running of the Triple Crown's second leg in Baltimore.
Thus, it's unfathomable to take Orb away from the top of the field's power rankings. That's in spite of Orb drawing the inside rail, which has historically been difficult to overcome (h/t David Grening of the Daily Racing Form):
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb5/15/2013, 10:12:08 PM
Here is an overview of all the competitors set to run in Saturday's marquee race, followed by a power ranking of the entire field.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of Preakness.com.
Post Positions and Complete Field
D. Wayne Lukas
Albert M. Stall Jr.
Brian Hernandez Jr.
D. Wayne Lukas
Will Take Charge
D. Wayne Lukas
|Bob Baffert || |
Eddie Plesa Jr.
|John Velazquez |
*Odds via Bovada as of 6 p.m. ET, May 16
9. Titletown Five
The longest shot in the field also occupies the lowest slot in the rankings. Titletown Five attempted to qualify for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs but only managed to finish in fourth place.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has two other horses in this race in Oxbow and Will Take Charge, who are much more realistic contenders and have two far superior jockeys—no disrespect to Julien Leparoux.
One fun fact is that Green Bay Packers greats Paul Hornung and Willie Davis own Titletown Five. However, don't expect another title in the form of a Preakness triumph from this team.
With favorable 9-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby (h/t KentuckyDerby.com), Eddie Plesa Jr.'s horse underwhelmed with a 15th-place effort. Itsmyluckyday will get an upgrade in the saddle with prolific jockey John Velazquez, but that's not a guarantee for success.
Velazquez was injured in a fall after winning the Wood Memorial Stakes aboard Verrazano, and the chipped radius bone in his right wrist had to be still bothering him just a few weeks later.
Though Verrazano suffered a gash of his own and finished 14th, he wasn't in contention before then. Whether that's attributable to Velazquez's health is debatable, but it's difficult to trust this tandem based on Itsmyluckyday's disappointing Run for the Roses.
Speaking of not living up to expectations, Goldencents came in a woeful 17th place at Churchill Downs with jockey Kevin Krigger getting the mount.
Krigger is seeking to become the first black jockey to win the Preakness since 1898, which would obviously be a landmark achievement. He did pull Goldencents back considerably after victory at the Derby wasn't possible, but falling that far short of expectations is a red flag.
The shorter track will serve a sprinter like Goldencents better at Pimlico. Having said that, it's safer at this point to wager on the other horses.
6. Will Take Charge
Mike Smith has captured all three jewels of the Triple Crown in his illustrious jockeying career but rode Palace Malice a bit too hard to begin the Kentucky Derby and faded rapidly from the early lead.
Will Take Charge, though, is a much more viable horse. Should similar tactics be used against a lighter field and on a course that isn't quite as long as Churchill Downs, there is the possibility that Will Take Charge ultimately lives up to his namesake.
5. Govenor Charlie
Not running in the Kentucky Derby gives Govenor Charlie the distinct advantage of rest heading to Baltimore. A foot bruise suffered during a key part of training caused the pullout, but it's a blessing in disguise in a sense for this race.
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert is never to be dismissed no matter the odds, but the 10-1 shot Govenor Charlie is being given suggests a mediocre run.
Govenor Charlie is the son of renowned sprinter Midnight Lute. Based on that portion of his pedigree alone, the record-setting winner of the Sunland Derby should be a pleasant surprise—especially with 2010 Preakness winner Martin Garcia getting the mount.
This is the best long shot to bet on at 16-1. Gary Stevens is getting the mount once again following a respectable sixth-place effort in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
The No. 6 starting post is especially significant, as a record 15 winners have begun there. Lukas was pleased with the development after Oxbow had gotten snubbed in previous draws (h/t Horse Racing Nation's Brian Zipse):
Brian Zipse @Zipseatthetrack
"Oxbow, for a change, got a decent post position, so that’s going to help there. I like what happened there very much.” ~D. Wayne Lukas5/16/2013, 12:37:00 PM
Stevens is a two-time winner at the Preakness, and Oxbow has the sprinter's speed to pull off a stunning upset down the final stretch. Slightly smaller size won't be as big of a factor at Pimlico, and Oxbow's increased room to roam will only help his cause.
Rosie Napravnik, like Goldencents' Krigger, is attempting to make her own slice of history. She would become the first female jockey to ever win the Preakness Stakes, and she's aboard the top Kentucky Derby finisher in the field aside from Orb.
Mylute sports a strong combination of strength and swiftness, which was on display on the murky Churchill Downs track less than two weeks ago. Speed has consistently improved for this colt over his 10 starts.
With only two prior victories, though, it's difficult to bet on Mylute to finish first, but he's a good across-the-board proposition or in other combination wagers.
The No. 3 favorite but second in terms of these rankings, Departing is another horse who will have rest heading into this race, like Govenor Charlie.
One benefit that Departing has is coming off of a triumphant performance at the Grade III Illinois Derby. Though that may not seem like the most formidable competition, bear in mind that Departing finished third at the Louisiana Derby, only behind Mylute and Revolutionary, who ran third in Louisville.
Departing is deservedly gaining traction as a legitimate contender, and it shouldn't be a surprise if he emerges with the second-lowest odds when the race commences on Saturday.
Joel Rosario has 137 wins in 2013 already (h/t Equibase.com), and his busy campaign will continue—hopefully for him and trainer Shug McGaughey, in a similarly successful fashion.
Orb is a cut above the rest of the field, as his top three challengers in the Kentucky Derby aren't even running in the Preakness. McGaughey would complete the career Triple Crown with this win, and there's little reason to believe it won't happen.
The last time Orb was doubted periodically as the morning-line favorite was at Churchill Downs, and those who did were sorry. At 10-11, ranking Orb No. 1 is a no-brainer.