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Preakness 2018: Top Contenders and Unheralded Horses in Field

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2018

Mike Smith rides Justify through the fourth turn and unto victory during the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/Associated Press

Kentucky Derby winner Justify is the top horse in the field for the 2018 edition of Preakness at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

Good Magic, the runner-up at Churchill Downs, is also one of the horses to watch, despite finishing two-and-a-half lengths behind the winner in Louisville. Of the more unheralded horses in the field, Kentucky runners Lone Sailor and Bravazo are worth keeping an eye on at the 143rd edition of Preakness.

       

Justify Still the Leading Contender

It's hard to look past Justify, though, especially after the way the powerful colt ended the Apollo Curse earlier this month. Naturally, the horse is a firm favourite among oddsmakers, per OddsShark's Mike Dempsey:

OddsShark @OddsShark

Odds to win the Preakness Stakes: Justify -200 Good Magic +450 Diamond King +1600 My Boy Jack +1600 Hofburg +1800 Runaway Ghost +1800 Telekinesis +2000 Complete list of odds and race analysis from @turfnsport: https://t.co/cyemwpS5ko https://t.co/1FFBIryfCl

In an ominous sign for the other horses at Pimlico, trainer Bob Baffert believes winning at Churchill Downs has taken nothing out of Justify, per the Baltimore Sun:

"He looks healthy. He didn't lose an ounce of weight, which is important. That's one thing about him. The next day (after the Derby) when I brought him out, he was so bright and full of energy, I was pretty impressed myself. Usually, all my Derby winners, it takes them about five days to really snap out of it. But he was pretty sharp the whole time."

A Justify at full speed and strength is bad news for Good Magic and the rest of the field. No horse provided a serious threat to Baffert's prized colt May 5, despite the field being deeper and more talented for the Run for the Roses.

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Good Magic in with a Chance

Getting closest to Justify in Kentucky may give Good Magic confidence about going further this time. Where the horse could have the edge is trainer Chad Brown.

A year ago, Brown's Cloud Computing won at Pimlico. He has been anxious for Good Magic to have a second chance at beating Justify, per Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun.

Good Magic can go one better after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.
Good Magic can go one better after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Walker also noted how Brown's horse "legitimately pushed Justify over the mud at Churchill Downs." On that occasion, the push brought out the best in Justify, leaving Good Magic ultimately unable to keep up.

Yet Brown's recent experience with winners on this track could make all the difference.

        

Bravazo and Lone Sailor Worth a Second Look

Like Good Magic, Bravazo is trained by an expert at winning in Baltimore. D. Wayne Lukas has trained six Preakness winners, per Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post.

The influence of Lukas wasn't enough for Bravazo to get closer than eight lengths behind Justify at Churchill Downs. Even so, a sixth-place finish offered a hint of this colt's quality.

Things are different for Lone Sailor, with the horse set to be ridden by a new jockey in Baltimore. Bonesteel reported Irad Ortiz Jr. will replace James Graham in the saddle.

Lone Sailor has the stamina and power for Pimlico.
Lone Sailor has the stamina and power for Pimlico.Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Lone Sailor finished eighth in Louisville, but the longer track at Pimlico will likely better suit a horse with the energy to stay in the mix early and the ability to produce a late surge.

Justify is the horse to beat in the second leg of the Triple Crown, but Good Magic, Lone Sailor and Bravazo all remain capable of springing a surprise.

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