In horse racing, a jockey is only as good as his horse. Or is a horse only as good as his jockey? Whatever the case, it takes two to tango and that will be quite apparent during Saturday's Preakness as nine horses and jockeys look to make history.
Some bettors make the mistake of only looking at a horse or a jockey without examining the other side of the coin. Horses and jockeys work together to form an incredible vehicle, and they must work in lockstep. In order to produce a winning effort in a race like the Preakness, both elements need to be hitting on all cylinders.
Here are the three best horse-and-jockey combinations in the Preakness Stakes field. None of these tandems are guaranteed to win or even perform well, but the odds are definitely in their favor.
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||10-11|
|2||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||8-1|
|3||Titletown Five||Julien Leparoux ||D. Wayne Lukas||28-1|
|4||Departing||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Albert M. Stall Jr.||13-2|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||13-2|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||16-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||Mike Smith||D. Wayne Lukas||12-1|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||10-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr. ||10-1|
Odds courtesy of Bovada
Orb and Joel Rosario
There is no better place to start when naming the best Preakness combinations than the Kentucky Derby-winning team of Orb and jockey Joel Rosario. While Orb has deservedly received plenty of credit since the win, it's important not to forget Rosario's role. He had Orb under perfect control throughout the race as they laid back and made a late surge. Rosario clearly knew that the initial pace was unsustainable and it resulted in Orb flying past the field late.
Of course, Rosario couldn't have done it if not for Orb's physical tools. He had plenty left in the tank by the end of the race and seemed like he could have kept running forever. That is a great sign for Rosario as he can potentially make his move a little earlier in the Preakness. Rosario is fully aware of the horse he has on his hands as he compared him to a luxury car, according to Claire Novak of Blood-Horse.
Not only may Rosario be the best "driver" in the field, but he may have the best "ride" as well. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, Rosario won the Dubai World Cup this year as well, so he has an incredible amount of momentum behind him. He also happens to be on board the top three-year-old in the country and perhaps the world, so they will be a very difficult pairing to knock off.
Will Take Charge and Mike Smith
With a little better luck, Will Take Charge might have won the Kentucky Derby or at least finished in the money. He ended up finishing eighth, but he made a late charge and proved capable of hanging with the very best horses. Will Take Charge unfortunately had a nightmare trip that saw him get caught up in traffic at various points, but that is extremely unlikely to happen in the Preakness now that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will saddle him, according to Daily Racing Form.
While Jon Court is a good jockey, he didn't navigate the Derby field well and he doesn't quite measure up to a legend like Smith. Not only has he won all three Triple Crown races in his career, but Smith has won a number of Breeders' Cup races as well, so he knows how to excel under pressure. Will Take Charge may not be the best horse he has ever ridden, however, his Derby trip suggests that he has more in him than we have seen thus far.
Will Take Charge appears to be a closer much like Orb, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in direct competition down the stretch. The perception is that Orb is far superior as he is a 10-11 favorite, but he had the benefit of open space in the Kentucky Derby. With the playing field even in the Preakness, it will be interesting to see who triumphs.
Itsmyluckyday and John Velazquez
Itsmyluckyday entered the Kentucky Derby as a popular pick, but he struggled to keep up with the blistering pace that was initially set and finished 15th. While it was obviously a disappointing finish for the promising colt, there is reason for optimism in the Preakness. Elvis Trujillo is a solid jockey, but Itsmyluckyday should get a huge boost as Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will guide him on Saturday, according to Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union.
Entering the Kentucky Derby, Itsmyluckyday had finishes of second, first and first in his previous three races, respectively. All of those races were against top competition as well at Gulfstream Park. He is obviously a talented horse, but perhaps he just needed a new direction. Since Itsmyluckyday and Velazquez will be starting on the outside, it will be fairly easy to manage him and ensure that he doesn't tire himself out early like he did in the Kentucky Derby.
Itsmyluckyday is much better than his last race suggests, so hopefully Velazquez can harness his ability and turn it into a good finish. Itsmyluckyday is definitely in good hands and has a chance to challenge the top contenders.
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